Ukraine

Languages: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian (regional language) 24%, Religions: 66% Orthodox, Greek Catholic Church 10%

Population: 44 million

Capital: Kiev

Mennonites in Ukraine

Number of Mennonite Congregations: 7

Number of baptized Mennonites 281 = 0,5% of the European Mennonites

Entrepeneur and Reformer

Author: Nataly Venger

Johann Cornies – a representative widely trusted by Mennonites, who made his career by working for the Russian government. The government supported Cornies as a promoter of reforms. His values differed from the values of religious leader J. Warkentin who insisted on keeping congregations isolated and refused cooperation with the  Russian elite. The public support received by Cornies was based on his success as an entrepreneur. He was involved in trading, sheep breeding and brewing and he owned a small businesses. The profits from his agricultural business he invested in the development of industry, a determining sector for the future success of the colonies.

 

Leader of settlements and of societies

Johann Cornies started his career in 1817 when the Guardianship Committee nominated him as leader of the new Danzig settlements. He then took over the colonies of emigrants from Wittenberg. From 1825 he was working on the ‘Nogan project’ which aimed to civilize the Nogay population. Cornies demonstrated wonderful administrative skills, tolerance and an ability to match the demands of the Russian government with the needs of a traditional society.

Being a leader of ‘The Forestry Society’ (1830) and ‘The Agricultural Society’ (1836) he managed to oversee many projects concerned with economic progress. ‘The Agricultural Society’ existed until 1871.

 

Innovations and Neu-Halbstadt

During the time in which the landless population grew, Johann proposed a new plan,  which devoted small land areas in the suburbs of the colonies to members of the congregations. He donated 100.000 rubles of his personal savings to the establishment of a new colony named Neu-Halbstadt.

Cornies was a private banker who lent money to Mennonite and German entrepreneurs, Russian landlords and politicians, and who made communities supply credit to young entrepreneurs. Johann organized a program in which Mennonite craftsmen taught craft skills to Bulgarian youth. He successfully reformed the education system.

 

Future oriented

Cornies believed that the goal of the Mennonite ideology was to keep the settlement together and to establish justice within the congregation. His beliefs were influenced by his pietistic values. Even though he was an authoritarian leader, he achieved positive changes within the colony. He was certain that the future of the colonies in a modernized Russia depended upon the market developments within the settlement. Thus most of his reforms were focused on future success. The results of his projects were positive and evident in the decade that followed.

‘A man with a mission’

Author: Nataly Venger

Jacob Hoeppner was a Mennonite entrepreneur in Polish Prussia who played an active role in arranging the resettlement of the Mennonites to the Russian Empire. He was one of the first individuals who believed in the possibility and the benefit of Mennonite emigration. With his attitude he inspired other, less decisive representatives of the congregation. His determination and his support for one of the main projects of resettlement started a new age in the history of the European Mennonites.   

Hoeppner was an entrepreneur who rented a small store and tavern in Danzig. George von Trappe, the Russian government emissary who happened to be one of Hoeppner’s clients, was impressed by his business skills. He shared information about Catherine II's Manifests and about the possibilities of the Mennonites’ emigration. When living conditions for Mennonites in Polish Prussia deteriorated under the rule of Emperor Frederick II, the Danzig congregation encouraged Hoeppner and his colleague Johann Bartsch to visit Russia. The goal of the visit was to clarify the terms of emigration and to find suitable lands for settlement.    

In the fall of 1786, Hoeppner and Bartsch left for Russia. They approved a place for settlement near Beryslav. In the spring of 1787, as a result of the negotiations with statesman G. Potemkin,  'Privileges’ was written. The document was signed by Catherine II in 1788.

‘Privileges’ guaranteed the emigrants favorable living conditions. It allowed for religious expression and self-governance and encouraged the adoption of human rights and economic rationality. Mennonites were promised lands, credits and the right to run businesses. Through signing this agreement, the deputies secured their own future as well. According to the document, they themselves had the right to inherit mills that had to be built with state funding and to own stores, breweries and vinegar businesses.   

 

The first group of emigrants went to Russia in 1787–1788.  As they progressed towards Beryslav, the Russian government changed the location of the Mennonite settlement because of threats coming from the Ottoman Empire. The new Chortitza lands were not as fertile as in Beryslav and the Mennonites accused Hoeppner and Bartsch of a fraud. Hoeppner was excluded from the congregation and put into prison. But when the new emperor Alexander I came to power, Hoeppner was accepted back into the congregation. He spent his last years in the Kronsweide colony.

According to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach (Canada) a memorial was put on Hoeppner’s grave in 1890. During the 1960-70’s it was moved from Ukraine to Canada as a remembrance to a new stage in European Mennonite history.

 

Buildings and constructions

Author: Svietlana Bobileva
Translator: Katerina Revunenko 

The Mennonite mentality is based on rationalism. Colonies consisted of villages built closely together. The settlements, connected by roads, were established close to the banks of small rivers. They were built according to officially approved plans which had been adapted to the landscape. Gradually, the colonies developed their infrastructure: craftsmen's workshops, factories, shops, churches and schools.

 

Well maintained and neat

The Mennonite villages were laid out along a single street, the main street, which had a hard surface. There were ditches to drain rainwater and stone paved sidewalks alongside the road. The street looked well maintained and neat. All colonies had large green spaces and gardens. Flowers grew in front gardens. A prayer house/church and a school were located in the central part of the settlement. The school was often a beautiful two-storey building with large windows, comfortable stairs and tiled floors.

 

Material

There were half-timbered, adobe and brick houses. The chimneys were fixed in the attic’s floor for better heating and convection of warm air. In chimneys, Mennonites traditionally arranged a smoking place. The gables of houses were 9 metres high and made of brick. Roofs were gabled, tiled, covered with metal or with shingles. The floors were mostly painted. The housewives washed and scraped the unpainted floors. Every house had a cellar – rectangular or arched in shape. Walls and floors were tiled and made of bricks. Sometimes the Mennonites had rammed earth floors.

 

Arranging yards and houses

The yards were 40 metres wide and 100–120 metres long. Farmyards were separated by fences  which were bleached twice a year. The mostly one-storeyd buildings,  9 to 18 metres wide, faced the main street. All the houses had two entrances. The front door faced the yard. Another one led through a corridor to a barn and then to the second door, a few metres further from the main entrance. In some houses four rooms were located around the hearth which was in the centre of the building. Houses had four areas inside the building: communal areas and two living and cooking areas. Sliding beds (‘shlopani’), sideboards, couches, wooden sofas, hanging double-wing cabinets and  chests are among the traditional furniture.

 

Wells

The wells were located in the yards and in the stables. If a village didn’t have good water, the Mennonites arranged pools covered with a wooden lid which were filled with filtered rain or distilled water. Wells were also installed on the roadsides.

 

Work

Author: Svietlana Bobileva
Translator: Katerina Revunenko

Mennonite colonies in the Russian Empire were situated in a zone of risky agriculture. Lack of rains and extreme droughts sometimes converted fields into a pitiful sight. In good  years however, rye and wheat reached waist height. The Mennonites harvested with minimal losses. They carefully prepared agricultural tools and machines. All the equipment had to be ready by Midsummer Day (June, 24). On that day lobogreykas (mowers), wagons loaded with pitchforks, rakes, food and water moved to the fields. The Mennonites and their employees approached the sloping wheat in rows and folded it into big piles. The work required some skill and physical strength because the machines worked non-stop with only a meal break.

 

Camping in the fields

Harvesting took the whole day. To avoid wasting time, the Mennonites camped in the field. However, some wagons returned to the village for the night. They took some water and food for the next day. Such schedules made sure  that harvesting took only about 6–8 days.

 

Threshing

Meanwhile, other people stayed in the village to prepare for threshing. They  used ‘garbos’ – big wagons. These were used to take compressed wheat to a place where threshing stones were moved by two horses walking in circles. Short sticks (‘langvids’), connecting the front and rear wheels, were replaced with long ones. The Mennonites also fixed 1.5 metre high ladders on the both sides. Grain-cleaning machines were turned by hand. Threshing took 8–10 days and always had the risk of the weather turning bad hanging over it.

 

‘One day feeds a year’

Gradually, technological progress influenced the Mennonite colonies. Over time the Mennonites started using threshing machines. These were quite expensive, so the Mennonites often rented them for 1–2 days. In order to cope with a large amount of work in a short time, the owners hired 10–15 employees. They were the Ukrainians from nearby villages. They had to work hard: from 3– 4 am until 10–11 pm. However, the work was well paid and the Mennonites fed their employees properly. So there were no conflicts because everybody understood that ‘a day feeds a year’. Harvest time was a difficult but important time of the year. It gave the Mennonites hope for the next year and filled their lives with great joy.

 

Photo: John A. Lapp, C. Arnold Snyder eds.: Testing Faith and Tradition. Global Mennonite History Series: Europe. (Good Books, PA, 2006).

Public Charity

Author: Nataly Venger

Social projects run by the Mennonites were an example for all of Russian society on how to solve social problems in a civilized way. Providing unprecedented services for the rehabilitation of unprotected social groups, the Mennonites introduced new standards of life, that indicated the ethical maturity, humanity and economic status of their communities.

 

Serving the community

The Mennonites in Russia were an economically prosperous ethnic and religious group. According to Mennonite ethics, wealth was considered a responsibility. The money had to ‘act’ and be used for useful things. The concept of charity had a social content, related to the goal of serving the community. The financial means of the congregation were used in the running of the institutions that were called  ‘institutions of public charity’ in Russia.

 

Schools, hospitals and nursing homes

The activity of the institutions was related to the social rehabilitation of the community members who needed support from the congregation. Because of a high level of intermarriage in Mennonite society, a considerable number of people were suffering from mental illnesses. By 1914 a few establishments that were important for the community had been founded. They were: ‘The School for the Deaf and Mute’ in Tiege, the hospital ‘Bethania’ for mentally ill patients and a nursing home. The running of these institutions was financially supported by the richest people of the communities. Like ‘Bethania’, the ‘School for Deaf and Mute’ was 50% paid for by private donations.

 

Donations

The idea for the establishment of ‘Bethania’ was brought up by the Ekaterinoslav congregation, which consisted of the largest Mennonite dynasties of industrialists and public figures (the Thiessens, Toews, Fasts, Ezaus and Bergmans). A charitable foundation was set up to start the project. Donations were anonymous, and the hospital fund soon reached 262.000 rubles. For people in need treatment was free of charge.

 

Mennonites and (non) Mennonites

The hospital was located in Alt-Kronsweide (Chortytza). It opened in March 1911, and it had treated 53 patients by December 1912. Although most patients were Mennonites, members of other ethnic groups were also given access to treatment. ‘Bethania’ was run by a Council, led by the famous entrepreneurs J. Suderman and J. Lepp. The fund  reached 93.514 rubles and the budget reached 37.956 rubles in 1911–1913. A year's care for one patient cost 300 rubles. Fifteen patients got free treatment. Another medical building with a laundry, and a steam boiler was built in 1915.

 

Photo: John A. Lapp, C. Arnold Snyder eds.: Testing Faith and Tradition. A Global Mennonite History: Europe. (Good Books, PA, 2006).

 

The Great Patriotic War (1941–1945)

Author: Svietlana Bobileva
Translator: Katerina Revunenko 

Political oppression was rife in the 1930's Soviet Union. Stalin’s regime supported NKVD (political police) activity, initiated a campaign against ‘the Fascists’ – German speaking population, abolished national regions and worked out plans for the deportation of the German–Mennonite population in 1939. Arrests and physical assault on the clergy and teachers undermined the Mennonites and their spiritual, national and cultural identity. This affected the Mennonites’ attitude towards those in power.

 

Mennonites and the authorities

The war between Germany and the USSR broke out in June of 1941. Some  Mennonite youth representatives volunteered for the Red Army. Some just waited for the end of the struggle between the warring parties. However, it was almost impossible to stay neutral and  uninvolved. Some politicians and  Communist Party activists were exiled to the East of the Soviet Union. The law ‘About the German population in the Ukrainian SSR’ was established in August 1941. According to that law anti-Soviet elements had to be arrested and male German speaking people (16–60 years old) had to be called up to ‘build battalions’. The German–Mennonites from the Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhe, Stalin (now Donetzk), Voroshilovgrad (Lugansk) provinces and the Crimea region had to be evicted. However, the Wehrmacht army advance did not allow for fulfillment of  these plans.

 

Between Bolshevism and Nazism

About 163.000 Mennonites and ethnic Germans lived in Ukraine before the war. The aim of the Fascist authorities was to use the human potential of the occupied territories for their own purposes, to rely on the local German speaking population. In order to do that, they provided congregations with material support and pretended to restore the ethnic schools and religious life. At first they got some result. However, the Mennonites soon became disappointed because the collective farms, organized by Stalin, were not disbanded and  instead of Bolshevist ideas, Nazi-ideology was being taught at schools.  The Mennonites also couldn't put up with the Nazis’ racism, where the local non-German population was regarded as subhuman.

 

Strangers in their own land

The Nazis failed to divide the local multinational population. History has many examples of friendly relationship between the Mennonites and their Ukrainian neighbors. However, the Nazi propaganda influenced the Mennonites psychologically. During the occupation they found themselves ‘strangers in their own land’. However, their return to the Soviet Union shows that they did not feel responsible for the Nazis' atrocities.

Colonies

Author: Svietlana Bobileva
Translator: Katerina Revunenko 

Catherine the Great invited the Mennonites to Russia to develop the new lands of the empire. Chose for being skillful farmers they were given land, and money for travel and adjustment. They were exempt from military service and got some civic and self-government rights.

 

Colonies in Ekaterinoslav,  Alexandrovsk and Molochansk

The first 228 Mennonite families arrived in the Ekaterinoslav province  from Prussia. They established eight colonies: Chortitza,  Einlage, Rosenthal,  Kronsweide, Neuendorf, Shoenhorst, Neuenburg and the Insel Chortitza settlement. The next immigration group (118 families) arrived in the Novomoskovsk and Alexandrovsk area in 1793–1796. At the beginning of the 19th century, 150 Mennonite families were settled in the Tavria province (1804) where they set up their villages along the eastern bank of the Molotchna River. In 1804–1806 another 365 Mennonite families settled in this district.  During the first decades of the century the Mennonites founded 27 colonies in Molotchna: Halbstadt, Tiegenhagen, Schoenau, Fischau, Lindenau, Lichtenau, Muensterbeg, Altonau, Tiege, Orlovo, Blumenort, Muntau–Ladekop, Mariental, Rudnerweide, Franzthal,  Pastva, Grossweide and Blumstein.

 

In 1835 five more Bergtal colonies (145 families) settled in the Alexandrovsk area. In 1852 they were united into the third Mariapol Mennonite District.   When in 1836–1866  Doukhobors,  Russian sectarians, left for the Caucasus, the representatives of the Gnadenfeld Old-Flemish congregation  from Prussia took those vacated land, founding Gnadenfeld Mennonite Volost in the Molochansk Mennonite District.

 

Samara and Volhynia

Mennonites  from Danzig, Marienburg and Elbing settled in the Samara province from the 1850’s. By 1874 there were 16 colonies. Some Mennonite settlements were located in the Kiev province (Mikhalin village) and in Volhynia (Karlsweide, Swiss Mennonites settlements). By 1870 the total number of Danzig and Prussian Mennonites, who had  arrived in Russia, amounted to 2300 families.

 

New migration due to land problems

Economic development and population growth caused land problems. ‘Inheritance Law’ (1866) allowed fragmentation of land holdings but could not solve the lack of  land. However, the Mennonites bought the nobility’s lands after 1861, when serfdom had been abolished . Some new groups of colonies were established in new parts of Russia. At the beginning of the 20th century the total Mennonite population in the Russian Empire was 104.000. The Mennonites mostly lived in the Ekaterinoslav, Tavria and Samara provinces. The largest Mennonite colonies were: Chortitza (1800 people), Rosenthal (1226), Neuendorf (1121), Osterwick (3100), Einlage (1258) (in Ekaterinoslav province); Halbstadt (915) and Waldheim (946) (in the Tavria province).

 

Photo: Wally Kroeker, An Introduction to Russian Mennonites: A story of flights and resettlements to homelands in the Ukraine, the Chaco, the North American Midwest, Germany and beyond. (Good Books, PA, 2005).

 

Mennonite Brethren Church

Author: Nataly  Venger

The Mennonite communities in the Russian Empire formed a dynamic social system.  The Russian modernization which caused social transformation in congregations led to a shift in their religious views and convinced them to update the rules of congregational life. Along with economic and social modernization, Russian Mennonite colonies underwent a 'reformation' that led to a more thoughtful understanding of justice.    

 

 Schisms

By the middle of the 19th century, about half of the Mennonite families didn't own any  land. They were deprived of participating in self-government, but had compulsory duties similar to other landowners. Among the people who did not possess land there were some who were engaged in sectors other than agriculture, and who wanted to have equal rights. Their protests led to new schism in the colonies and to the establishment of the Mennonite Brethren Church in the 1850’s. It united followers of pietism, members of young congregations and entrepreneurs (who represented the biggest part of the new church). The Mennonite Brethren Church first proclaimed its existence in January  1860 in the Molotschna settlement. The new congregation offered a new way of salvation based on criticism towards the former beliefs. Thus, the movement of Brethren Mennonites had a rebellious character.

 

Influence and Missionary work

The Mennonite Brethren movement soon became popular among so called new-Mennonites who were open to innovations. The first Mennonite Brethren Church conference occurred in 1872. Confession of faith was written in 1873. Their settlements were established in Kuban, Zagradovka and in Mariupol. The church conducted active missionary work and had their periodical:  ‘Friedensstimme’.

 

Friezen’s ‘The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia’ (1789-1910)

In 1885 Mennonite Brethren celebrated the 25th anniversary of their church, which by then consisted of 7 settlements and 1800 members. In the anniversary year, one of the leaders of the settlement, P.M. Friezen, was assigned to write a history of the Brethren congregations. His book was published in 1911 and presented the history of Mennonite colonies as a whole. By 1917 the Mennonite Brethren movement counted 40 congregations with 7000 members.

 

United to save identity

History shows us that the Mennonite Brethren Church did not become a separate religious denomination. Growing Russian nationalism forced the Mennonites to unite again. Thus, we can say that Russian nationalism, which revived the ‘idea of persecution’,  brought congregations together. The formation of the Mennonite Brethren Church led to the growth of self-awareness and to the beginning of the concept of the Mennonites' mission in this world.

Russian Mennonites and their education system

Author: Svietlana Bobileva
Translator: Katerina Revunenko 

School and education had an important place in the Mennonite colony's life. Schooling provided knowledge, but was also a way to preserve the faith. The Mennonite elders were responsible for the education. Getting an education was a duty for school age children and congregations kept the schools under their control.

 

Reading, writing and counting

The Mennonite education system went through stages of development. The first stage (late1800-1820’s) was determined by financial difficulties. At that time the only objectives of education were to teach children reading, writing and counting skills. The next phase started at the second quarter of the 19th century. It was defined by Johann Cornies’ activity. Cornies founded four-grades Central Teacher Training school in Orlovo and then in the Halbstadt  and Chortitze colonies. In 1843 he was entrusted with managing the Mennonite schools. He intended to lessen the dominance of preachers in schools, started school reform and provided schools with some financial support. Cornies introduced teachers' conferences and opened Gnadenfeld Reading Club and a library. 

 

Teaching Russian: Russification

In 1866, the Guardian Committee introduced Russian as a teaching language in the Mennonite schools. Later, according to 1890-1892  laws, the ethnic schools were placed under guidance of the Ministry of National Education. Every school got a Russian language teacher. The state used language policy as a way of Russification. In order to get more qualified Russian teachers, 2-year teaching courses were started in Chortitza in 1889.

 

Outside influences on education

In April 1905, freedom of conscience was proclaimed in the Empire. Some Mennonite schools were reorganized and some new central schools were founded. After the Civil War (1920) the process of ethnic revival was continuing but it had a controversial character. The Odessa Pedagogical Institute was set up to train teachers for ethnic schools, including Mennonite schools. However, antireligious propaganda was intensified by the Soviet power. The atheistic state spread their ideology among students and adults. The Communist Pioneer and Komzomol organizations were established. They were supposed to influence the young generation. However, those organizations were unable to fulfill their mission. 

 

When the Fascists came to power in Germany the Mennonite German speaking schools experienced oppression conducted by NKVD (Commissariat of Internal Affairs). Odessa Institute’s professors and teachers were accused of cooperation with the Nazis. Some of them were short or exiled.  German language was completely banned in schools in 1938. Ethnic Mennonite schools ceased to exist.

 

Enthusiastic Entrepreneurs

Author: Nataly Venger

The Mennonites in Russia were not only successful farmers, but also talented  entrepreneurs. The Mennonite colonies in the Ekaterinoslav province  became the main production centers in the empire when it came to developing a machine-building industry. ‘Lepp and Wallmann’ was the most prominent Mennonite machine-building company. The factory was established in 1850 by Peter Lepp – the founder of an entrepreneurial dynasty – and was at the height of its success under the guidance of his grandson – Johann Lepp, who inherited the enterprise in 1879 and ran it till 1919.

 

Lepps-Wallmanns Dynasty

In 1880 Andreas Wallmann, a rich farmer, became the Lepps’ partner. After 1880 the company was called ‘Lepp and Wallmann’. In 1903 it became a joint-stock company. The shareholders were  the 11 representatives of the Lepps-Wallmanns dynasty. They ran three machine-building factories in the Ekaterinoslav province. By 1903, the  value of personal and real estate of the firm was estimated to be 1,15 million rubles. The capital of the company grew to 1,2 million rubles (1903–1913) and 2,4 million rubles (1914–1918).

 

Entrepreneurial Success and Awards

In the beginning the factory produced the simplest farm equipment: mowers, winnowing-machines and reapers. In 1874, it released the first ‘Lepp’s Booker’. In the 1880’s the factory started producing machines that were important for industrialization: steam engines, boilers, oil presses and equipment for sawmills. In 1860–1912 the factory participated in agricultural exhibitions and was awarded with 33 medals and diplomas.

 

Business and WW1

During the First World War, the company was forced to produce weapons. For the (pacifist) Mennonite-entrepreneurs this was the only way to save their property under the conditions of unity-German laws.

 

Importance of the Mennonite-run Factories

Lepps-Wallmanns contributed greatly to the development of the machine-building industry in the Russian Empire. Famous entrepreneurs such as A. Koop and C. Hildebrandt got their first  experience at P. Lepp’s factory. By 1900, the Mennonites from the Ekaterinoslav province had produced more than 58% of the agricultural equipment in that area. In the Taurida province every third machine-building factory belonged to the Mennonites. In 1911, every fifth agricultural machinery factory in Novo-Russia was owned by a Mennonite entrepreneur. These figures can be seen as a reflection of the entrepreneurial success of this ethnic and religious group. The Mennonite factories were always using the latest technologies and competed successfully with foreign companies, providing consumers with cheap but high quality equipment. This way they contributed to the advancement of modernization.

 

Photo: Rudy P. Friesen, Building on the Past: Mennonite Architecture, Landscape and Settlements in Russia/Ukraine (Winnipeg, Canada 2004).

From monarchists to democrats

Author: Nataly Venger

The Mennonites were invited to the Russian Empire by the Empress Catherine the Great. How did the monarchy change its attitude towards the Mennonites and why did it happen?

 

Privileges

The Mennonite colonization was started by Catherine II. It was one of the methods of colonizing new lands: increasing the population to improve the economy of the empire. In the Manifests written by the Empress, new settlers were promised additional benefits. The active emigration policy for the Mennonites allowed them great economic prospects. ‘The Mennonite Privileges’ were signed by the Empress in 1788. Interestingly, other ethnic groups and the Russian population were not given these benefits.

 

Moral

Paul I (1796–1801), Alexander I (1801–1825) and Nicholas I (1825–1855) also supported the Mennonites. Paul I gifted the Mennonites with a ‘Charter of Privileges’ regarding their moral behavior as an example for other social groups. Alexander I established new colonization rules relying on wealthy immigrants. He ordered to gather all the former laws into “Colonies’ Statues”. The Monarch funded construction of churches in the villages Orloff and Rudnerweide. The settlement Alexandrwohl was named in honor of Alexander who visited Steinbach and Tiege. Nicholas’ II ideology was reflected in the slogan ‘Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality’. Even though Mennonites were Protestants, they supported the idea of a ‘monarch as father'. They demonstrated their devotion to the monarchy. In 1937 Nicholas II also supported the ‘Privileges’.

 

Change of status

The modernization and unification conducted by Alexander II started a new chapter in the history of settlements. In 1871–1874 Mennonites lost their ‘colonist’ status and were drawn into alternative military service. Nevertheless, reforms did not stop the development of colonies, mostly because Alexander II did not support nationalists. Mennonites kept the idea of ‘economic messianism’ that determined their connection with the monarchy. A new settlement was named in honor of Alexander.

 

From monarchists towards democrats

Alexander III (1881–1894) and Nicholas I (1894–1917) were influenced by nationalistic sentiments. Following the ideology of nationalism, they equated the Russian nation with Orthodoxy and were against Protestants. Nicholas II supported the anti-German legislation of 1914–1918. For a long time the Mennonites supported the monarchy. Yet democratic processes engaged settlers in dialogue with the government. These processes were caused by the revolution of 1905–1907 and by Russian nationalism. It changed the Mennonites' attitude from supporters of the monarchy to supporters of democracy and parliamentarism.