Annotated Bibliography on Mennonite Colonies in Paraguay

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Electronic Resources

Annotated Bibliography

General Sources

  • Bender, Harold S. "With the Mennonite Refugee Colonies in Brazil and Paraguay." Mennonite Quarterly Review 13, no. 1 (January 2009): 59-70.
In this article Bender offers a first person account of his experiences with Mennonite refugees in Brazil and Paraguay who had fled from Russia.
  • Fretz, Joseph Winfield. Immigrant Group Settlements in Paraguay: A Study in the Sociology of Colonization. North Newton, KS: Bethel College, 1962.
  • Fretz, Joseph Winfield. Pilgrims in Paraguay: The Story of Mennonite Colonization in Paraguay. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1953.
In these two works Joseph Fretz describes Mennonite Colonies in South America, especially in Paraguay. While dated, these books offer insight into Mennonite Colony life in Paraguay in the mid-twentieth century. Fretz gives describes the various aspects of colony life (emigration/immigration, population, way of life) up through the 1950s.
  • Klassen, Peter P. and Gunther H. Schmitt (translator) The Mennonites in Paraguay: Volume 1, Kingdom of God and Kingdom of this World. Steinbach, MB: Mennonitische Post, 2003.
In Mennonites in Paraguay: Volume 1 Klassen presents an excellent history of Mennonite immigrant groups in Paraguay. Klassen outlines the history of several Mennonite colonies (Menno Colony, Fernheim Colony, Friesland Colony, Primavera Hutterian settlement, Neuland and Volendam Colonies, Sommerfeld and Bergthal Colonies, Tres Palmas Colony, Mexican immigrant colonies, and Amish/Old Mennonite Colonies) in great detail and place their histories within the context of broader immigration history in Paraguay.
  • Kliewer, Fritz. "The Mennonites of Paraguay." Mennonite Quarterly Review 11, no. 1 (January 1937): 92-97.
This is a copy of Fritz Kliewer's presentation to Mennonites at the third Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam in 1936. In this address he describes the history of Mennonites in Paraguay and their current (1936) socio-economic condition.
  • Krause, Annemarie Elisabeth. Mennonite settlement in the Paraguayan Chaco. Dissertation for University of Chicago. 1952. (Mennonite Historical Library).
In this dissertation Krause gives an overview of the Mennonite Colonies in the Paraguayan Chaco. She gives a history of their settlement in the Chaco as well as current (1952) descriptions of their agricultural practices and economic conditions.
  • Quiring, Walter. "The colonization of the German Mennonites from Russia in the Paraguayan Chaco." Mennonite Quartlerly Review 8, no. 2 (April 1934): 62-72.
In this article, translated from German, Quiring describes Russian Mennonite immigration to the Paraguayan Chaco in the early 1930s.
  • Ratzlaff, Gerhard. The Trans-Chaco Highway: How it Came to Be. Newton, KS: Verney Unruh, 2000.
Ratzlaff describes the creation of the Trans-Chaco Highway and its effect on Mennonite Colonies in the Paraguayan Chaco.
  • Stoesz, Edgar. Like a Mustard Seed: Mennonites in Paraguay. Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Harold Press, 2008.
In Like a Mustard Seed Edgar Stoesz attempts to tell the story of Paraguayan Mennonite Churches, how they gathered, how they prospered, and how they give back. Stoesz includes chapters on Menno, Fernheim, Friesland, Neuland, Volendam, Sommerfeld, and Bergthal Colonies, as well as chapters on Mexican and Siss and Amish Colonies. In addition Stoesz discusses several other issues that relate directly to the colonies such as, cooperatives, the Paraguayan Trans-Chaco Roadway, credit, and scientific agriculture.
  • Thiessen, John D. Mennonite and Nazi? Attitude Among Mennonite Colonists in Latin America. Kitchener, Onatario: Pandora Press, 1999.
Thiessen's book describes the somewhat disturbing trend of Mennonite support for Nazi Germany during WWII. Since many Mennonite Colonies were made up of Russian Mennonites who had German heritage and escaped Russia during the Russian Revolution via Germany, they were predisposed to favor Germany over Russia during WWII. Moreover, since the Fernheim Colony was still in the midst of economic hardship, most would have left the Chaco for the colonies they had left behind in Russia if they were given the opportunity. Many felt a German victory would be the only way they could safely return to Russia. Nazism became a particularly divisive issue for the Fernheim community.
  • Warkentin, J.W. "Carving a Home out of the Primeval Forest." Mennonite Quarterly Review 24, no. 2 (April 1950): 142-148.
In this article Warkentin gives a first person account of his experience helping a group of some 2,300 Mennonite immigrants, coming from Europe after WWII, settle in the Paraguayan Chaco.

Fernheim Colony

This is the official website of the Fernheim Colony. Written in Spanish this website describes the Colony's history as well as its activities as an agricultural cooperative. The site allows readers to contact the cooperative and see a list of local events. While the site focuses primarily on the cooperative's work the history section is a lucid account of the colony's story.
This article on the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online gives a detailed overview of how Mennonites first came to Fernheim and what they have been doing since.
This article from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia explains the relationship between the Fernheim Colony and Filadelfia. Since 1931, Filadelfia has been the center for Fernheim’s economy as well as its social services.
  • Harvey, Reuben. The Russian Mennonites and Indians of Colonia Ferheim [Sic]: They Were Left to Die, 1930. Filadelfia, Fernheim Colony, Paraguay: Harvey, 1982.
Reuben Harvey attempts to describe what life was like for Russian Mennonites as well as Indians in Fernheim colony. Though he includes some historical background and government policies, most of the book focuses on his experience visiting Amish friends, then moving to Paraguay to help build houses from 1970-1981. He has included many pictures, as well as personal narratives from people living there. The book is self-published, and Harvey’s writing style is blunt and littered with personal opinion; however, understood as a primary source it is a useful summary of life in the Chaco.

Friesland Colony

This is the official website for the Friesland Colony. This site relays contact information and description about the colony's history, cooperative, location, and administration. All the content is presented in Spanish.
This is an encyclopedia article on the Friesland Colony that gives a general description of the colony's history.

Menno Colony

This is an encyclopedia article that offers general description about the Menno Colony in Paraguay as well as a bibliography of selected sources.
  • Faust, John B. "The Mennonite Colony in Paraguay." Mennonite Quarterly Review 3, no. 3 (July 1929): 183-189.
Faust wrote this article just a year after the first Mennonite settlers arrived in the Paraguayan Chaco from Canada. Faust offers description of the Menno Colony, including population and agricultural experiences.
  • Peters, Jacob. "Mennonites in Mexico and Paraguay: A Comparative Analysis of the Colony Social System." Journal of Mennonite Studies 6 (1988): 198-214.
In this article Jacob Peters conducts a comparative study of the Manitoba-Swift Mennonite Colony in Mexico and the Menno Colony in Paraguay, studying the differences in their development from 1920-1970. He attempts to explain why the Menno Colony established a planned cooperative, while the Manitoba-Swift Colony did not. Peters concludes that difficult economic circumstances in Paraguay forced the Menno Colony to form cooperatives, while favorable economic circumstances in Mexico allowed individual household farming. Similarly, Peters suggests that differentiation between Mennonite groups in Paraguay also pushed the Menno Colony to form its own distinct cooperative.
  • Quiring, Walter. "The Canadian Mennonite immigration into the Paraguayan Chaco, 1926-27." Mennonite Quarterly Review 8, no. 1 (January 1934): 32-34.
In this article, translated from German, Quiring discusses the journey of Canadian Mennonite immigrants to the Paraguayan Chaco and the establishment of the Menno Colony.

Neuland Colony

This is the official website for the Neuland Colony. With options for viewing in English, German, and Spanish, this website give a broad overview about the Neuland Colony including, contact information and information about history, location, culture, languages, administration, services, and tourism.
This encyclopedia article gives a general description of Neuland Colony's history.

Primavera Hutterian Settlement

  • Burn, Maureen. Outcast but not Forsaken: True Stories from a Paraguayan Leper Colony. Rifton, NY: Plough Publishing House, 1986.
In Outcast but not Forsaken Burn tells the story of a Leper Colony at the Primavera Hutterian settlement that existed from 1941 to 1961.

Archives and Libraries

This is the home page for the Fernheim Colony Archives. The site provides contact information for the archives, based in Filadelfia. Also provided on the site is an index of the Mennoblatt, a monthly periodical published in Filadelfia by the Fernheim Colony.
The archives began in 1978 in Filadelfia and now (2009) have an extensive collection. The archivist and curator is Gundolf Niebuhr. For more information contact: gundolfn@gmail.com.
For more information about the Mennoblatt see: Kliewer, Fritz. "Menno-Blatt." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M463621.html (3 June 2009).
  • Friesland Colony Archives
The archives opened in 2001. Beate Penner is the director of the archives and the curator of the museum in Centro, Friesland. For more information contact: beatepenner@tigo.com.py.
  • Menno Colony Archives and Museum
Currently the Geschichtskomitee von Menno is in charge of the archives and museum. Uwe Friesen is the president of the committee. Walter Ratzlaff is in charge of the archives and museum. For more information contact: gekome@chaconet.com.py.
  • Neuland Colony Archives
Located in the colony capital, Neu-Halbstadt, the Neuland Colony Archives were still relatively new in 2009. Johann Gossen is in archivist. For more information contact: jmgossen@hotmail.com.

External Links

Fernheim Colony Official Website

Fernheim Colony Archives

Friesland Colony Official Website

Neuland Colony Official Website