In memory of Johann Isaak Friesen
Speech by Walter Friesen to the dedication of the Tribute to Liberty Site Dedication.
My father was born in South Russia, now the Ukraine, in a Mennonite village about half way between Zaporozhe and Odessa. The Mennonite community had moved to Russia in the late 1700s and was well established and highly productive in the Russian economy. Most were farmers, industrialists, and educators. This was also a close knit community of Anabaptist Christians. After the Russian revolution the communists implemented policies that would strip people of the means to survive with a strategy of removing all leaders, teachers, ministers, etc from the communities. Most of those removed were never seen again. The communists also removed all grain and horses from the communities, thus the remaining people had no food, or means of growing food, and many died of starvation, diseases that set in, or were killed outright by the communists. My uncle, as a young boy, was one those that had to go through the villages and count those that had died. My grandfather did not live to come to Canada.
This memorial is very important to ensure that through the passage of time, these events are not forgotten, and that future generations will identify with the evils that were perpetrated by the communists. The acts continue in communist countries to this day. Canada is a wonderful country and I am very thankful that my parents were allowed to come here as they fled from the terrors of communism.