Walter Ratliff’s excellent book discusses the journey Helena took
Helena Graewe Warkentin (1865-1942, #88939) shares her amazing story about how she travelled across deserts and mountains in a wagon train to Central Asia in 1880-1881.
Dimitri and Agathe with children (in birth order):
Anna, Tina, Daniel, Willy, Liselotte and Peter in Romania, ca. 1950
My dad’s aunt Agathe Graewe wrote from Jena, Germany after the city was bombed in 1945. The family later wrote from another sort of war zone, after they were forced to move to communist Romania. I’ve also included my dad’s story of their legendary romance.
Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) and his wife, possibly Katharina Teske (1857-1918)
I was thrilled to find records that filled out the family tree of my great-grandmother, Katharina Teske Plett. Translated letters from Russia and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s are shared below, along with Teske and Plett family trees.
John was sketched by an artist* in 1948.
My uncle John Boleak (1925-2008) was a charming man who made everyone laugh. He also survived five years of captivity in Russia.
At the casket of Johann H. Wiens, 1962 (see below for names)
When searching for my dad’s war buddy, Johann Wiens, I learned about another man with the same name who was my dad’s uncle. It was news to my dad as well! This Johann married my dad’s aunt Anna Plett, who sadly died before my father was born, but left descendants. Anna and Johann found peace with God when bandits raged in Russia.
Isaak Boleac and Hilda Balkon, about 1953
My cousin Esther recently discovered a treasure: a letter written by her father about his family and their life before coming to Canada. Isaak Boleac (1927-2007) was one of my dad’s three cousins who were our only relatives in Vancouver when I was growing up. Isaak tells the story of an outsider being embraced by Russian Mennonites, then enduring through much upheaval.
Jakob working in a Russian Gulag
In the last chapter of my uncle Jakob Plett’s story, Fleeing to Germany in 1943, the family had just been transported to Kilometer 15, Vologda, Russia. Their new home in 1945 was a slave labour camp (Gulag).
Margaret and Peter at their wedding in 1990
Margaret Lammert (1921-1997) [#1340893] was my father’s second wife. He is now happily married to his third wife, Nola, but it’s good to take a few moments to remember those who have gone before us.
Maria Plett Wiens (1888-1980) #476149
My father told me the story of how his aunt Maria Plett survived a shooting that killed her husband, Peter Wiens, in post-war East Berlin.
Camel caravans were common in 1881 Tashkent
Photo: 1977 Ethiopia © Mennonite Heritage Archives by Eric Rempel and John Wieler
In 1880-81, Mennonite migrants travelled over mountains, through deserts on camels, and by covered wagons to Central Asia. Their perilous journey is shared in these letters to the Rundschau.
Irene Plett is a writer, poet and animal lover living in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.