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.
Peter Wiens and Maria Plett, 1913, when grieving her brother Peter Plett.
Maria Plett was born on 17 Dec. 1888 in Alexanderfeld, Sagradovka, Kherson Oblast, South Russia (now in Ukraine). She was the sixth of ten children of Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) and Katharina Teske (1857-1918).
On 1 April 1910, she married teacher Peter Wiens (1884-1945). He was born in the forestry camp of Neu-Berdjansk to minister Bernhard Abraham Wiens (1854-1922) and Katharina Huebert (1854-1908). He received three years of secondary education and two years of teacher training. Peter enjoyed new experiences in different locations. From 1906, a few years before they married, until 1943, he lived in Landskrone, Friedensfeld, Rosenhof, Alexanderhof, Samara, Nikolaifeld, Steinfeld, Gnadenfeld, Schoenau, Rosenort, Kleefeld, Blumenort, Simonsfeld, and Apostolovo.
The family grew until 1930, when their last daughter was born. They had ten children, three of whom died in early childhood.
They fled Russia for Poland with the others on 23 Oct. 1943. In 1945, they lived in East Berlin. Maria often hosted Russian officers, who enjoyed the borscht soup that she made with beef that they supplied. The Russians would chat with her husband, who spoke Russian fluently, as he taught the language.
But one day she didn’t recognize the officer who came in the door. He sat across the table from her husband, took out his pistol and shot him in the head. Then he shot her. The bullet went right through her body, above her breast. She was bleeding badly and pretended to be dead.
Her daughter Marie (1930-2008) escaped through a window. The shooter pursued the teenager, but a neighbour helped to hide her.
Both women survived, and arrived in Canada on June 11, 1948, settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Below is Maria’s obituary, published in Der Bote 1980 Apr 23 p. 6, translated with the help of Google.
Maria Wiens, née Plett, died on 7 March  at the age of 91 years 2 months and 7 days at Donwood Manor, Winnipeg. Since her family is widely dispersed, the funeral service couldn’t be held until March 13th. It took place at First Mennonite Church at 11:00 in the morning. Pastor John Neufeld gave the funeral address based on Psalm 23 and Revelation 7: 9-17. The sister's mortal body was buried in the Glen Eden cemetery.
I, Maria Wiens, was born on 17 Dec. 1888 in Alexanderfeld, Village No. 1 of Sagradovka. My parents were Heinrich and Katharina Plett. My mother was born a Teske. My father was a teacher.
In 1908 I was baptized by elder Franz Martens and became a member of the Nikolaifeld Mennonite Church.
On February 23, 1910, I married Peter Wiens, a teacher, in my home village. We had ten children. Three died in early childhood. In 1945, a son died at the age of 25 in Germany. The oldest son is missing. One son and one daughter live in Russia with their families. Of the other married children, a daughter lives in the U.S.A., a son in Germany, and a son in B.C.
My husband was shot by the Russians in Germany in 1945.
In 1948, I came to Canada with my youngest daughter [Marie]. Here [in Winnipeg, Manitoba], I was allowed to work at the children's hospital for ten years and retired at the age of 70.
I am grateful to the heavenly Father for my reasonable health until now. I hope for a reunion with all my loved ones in the homeland above.
That is as far as our mother wrote.
In recent years she was in Donwood Manor, where she was called home on March 7th. She leaves behind five children: Heinrich and Liese in Russia, Herbert in Germany, Marie in the U.S.A., Bernhard in B.C., also 11 grandchildren and a sister, Susanne, in Germany.
We grant her heavenly peace.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
One of my favourite psalms, Psalm 23 was read at Maria’s funeral. I selected two verses, but the whole passage can be read on Wikipedia.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing....
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.