No statehood ambitions

Apr 25, 2016 by

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Regarding “Leg­acy of a Mennonite State” by Ben Goossen (April 11): The headline seems inappropriate and misleading.

What legacy or what Mennonite state is he referring to? Did Har­old S. Bender really mean a political state, as the article implies?

The very thought seems ridiculous. Mennonites often bargained for special privileges over the centuries, including in the U.S. and Canada, but did they seek independence or sovereignty from their country of residence?

In Paraguay, Menno Colony was established by Canadians, and much has been written as to their motivations to migrate. I really don’t believe a Mennonite state was one of them.

The second colony, Fernheim, was established to provide a homeland for refugees displaced by the Russian revolution and World War I. They brought the skills of forming civil government to look after the social welfare of their group. Again, I doubt that there were statehood ambitions.

The third colony, Neuland, was intended for the refugees of World War II, made heimatlos by the Treaty of Potsdam.

My mother and her family of four young children were signed up to make the pilgrimage to Para­guay. She knew the Chaco was not the greatest place to raise her family, but after living in Denmark behind barbed wire, suffering malnutrition and living in cold army barracks with 24 people to a room, Para­guay seemed tempting.

We had our meager belongings packed.

What I object to most and find offensive is being called Hitler’s remnants. We were refugees and survivors. Does anyone think this group had statehood in mind?

Then there is the comparison of Mennonite migrations to Zionism. Can anyone give one example of Mennonites trying to reclaim ancestral lands? Yes, Mennonites have migrated to many lands in search of special privileges and to form new colonies. But how do these migrations relate to Zionism?

I find the tone of this article disturbing and unacceptable.

Joachim (Joe) Friesen
Towanda, Kan.

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