The Silence Echoes: Memoirs of Trauma and Tears (Mennonite reflections)

Mennonites of Dutch/German ancestry began emigrating from Prussia and settling in the Ukraine in 1789, following invitations and guarantees granted by Catherine II of Russia. One hundred years later, the Mennonites in Russia had prospered. They now numbered some 70,000 persons living in progressive settlements, leading the way in farming and manufacturing. The Mennonites who settled in Russia kept their language, their religion, and their culture intact. But as the nineteenth century drew to a close, Mennonite community identity was increasingly seen as a threat. There was first a drive for "russification" under the Czars; there then was increasing suspicion of all things German with the outbreak of the First World War; and finally the Bolshevik Revolution brought Christianity and prosperity into question. The Second World War and its brutal Stalinist aftermath succeeded in destroying life in the Mennonite colonies. The first person accounts translated here tell the stories of people who almost miraculously survived successive waves of revolution, civil war, assassination, economic and political purges, and arbitrary arrest and banishment. The stories of these survivors are just now beginning to be published, in both German and Russian. Sarah Dyck's selection and skillful translation of these memoirs opens a rare window through which English readers can begin to grasp the reality of life in the Soviet empire for those judged to be "enemies of the People." These stories provide graphic and personal documentation of a land and a people in turmoil. (Description from book’s web site.)

Dyck, Sarah
Pandora Press, 1997