Fonds Volumes 3778-3781; 3933-3937; 3938-3960; 3309; 3420-3440; 4840-4841; 5508-5509 Microfilm 657-684; Microfiche 13-20, 22-24; Photograph Collection 348. - Alexander Rempel fonds

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Alexander Rempel fonds

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CA MHCA Volumes 3778-3781; 3933-3937; 3938-3960; 3309; 3420-3440; 4840-4841; 5508-5509 Microfilm 657-684; Microfiche 13-20, 22-24; Photograph Collection 348.

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  • 1908-1984, predominant 1929-1941, 1959-1984 (Creation)

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Physical description

6.2 meters of textual records
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Name of creator

Biographical history

Alexander (Sascha) Rempel was born on June 8, 1915, in Chortitza, South Russia, as the oldest child of Jacob Rempel and Maria Suderman. His father, Jacob A. Rempel (1883-1941), who had studied at the Evangelical Ministers' School (Predigerschule) in Basel, Switzerland and the University of Basil, was a teacher in the Chortitza Zentralschule in South Russia, when Sascha was born. For a short time during chaotic times of the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war, the family moved to the Sudermann family estate, where Alexander's mother died in 1918.

Jacob Rempel, Alexander's father, was called and elected as an Ältester (Bishop) with the ordanation being performed by Isaak G. Dyck on 2 May 1920. A little later, Jacob made his home base the village of Grünfeld in the Barotov-Schlachtin settlement. Here Jacob married his first wife's sister, Sophie Sudermann. Together they had six more children, two of whom died young due to starvation.

In September of 1929 the church was closed and the family need to re-locate. They went to Moscow with plans to emigrate but for unknown reasons they were not allowed to leave the Soviet Russia. In November 1929 Alexander's father, Jacob, was taken away and jailed while the family was ordered to return to Grünfeld. Jacob was released and imprisoned numerous times.

From 1934 to 1936, Alexander and Jacob, his father, lived in Ak Metchet in Central Asia. In 1936 they were both arrested, charged and sentenced to death. Jacob was charged jointly with other Mennonites, of attempting major acts of sabotage on behalf of Germany against the Soviet Union i.e. attempting to blow up railway bridges, etc. etc..., all concocted. Alexander was charged for providing economic aid to his father. At one point both were sentenced to be executed by shooting. Jacob's sentence was later commuted to 10 of prison, but he was nevertheless executed on 11 September 1941 in the city of Orel, south west of Moscow. Alexander survived severe interrogation and torture and eventually came to Germany in 1942. These events colored the rest of Alexander's life. Alexander had promised his father that his life would not be forgotten, and though he studied engineering in Berlin, he also painstakingly researched and collected the relevant materials from family, friends and colleague, in order to keep his promise. In 1963, he immigrated to Canada, and lived at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario until his sudden death in 1985.

He was an avid researcher who devoted much of his life to Mennonite studies, but unfortunately due to his illness and sudden death of a heart attach, little was completed or published. In 2005, the story was published under the title, Hope is our Deliverance: Aeltester Jacob Aron Rempel: The tragic experience of a Mennonite leader and his family in Stalin's Russia by Alexander Rempel and Amalie Enns.

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Custodial history

The records of this fonds were brought to the Heritage Centre from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario in several deposits -- six cartons of books delivered in July 1986 by Waldemar Janzen, a friend of the family, then some more boxes were received directly from Alexander's sister, Elenore (Lora) Janzen on May 22, 1987. In 1999, another donation consisting primarily of books collected by Alexander Rempel was made. In 2004 Elenore Janzen donated the research files related to the Chortitza Zentralschule. In 2010, Amalie Enns donated the Jacob A. Rempel documents and letters from the 1930s.

Scope and content

This fond consists of nine series. They include: 1) Linguistics; 2) Russian / Prussian Mennonite history; 3) World War Two history; 4) Education; 5) Anabaptist history (with a sub series on catechisms); 6) Theology; 7) Genealogy; 8) Russian history; 9) Philosophy and History. These series contain handwritten notes, manuscripts by the author, card indexes, photocopies, pictures, micro media, and a few original documents. The numerous photocopies and micro media are of books and articles, some of which are extremely rare. It is difficult to determine when the copies or notes were made: therefore, the creation date of the files are often [19-]. In many cases, the correspondence and manuscripts are the only way to date his research. In some cases, the date of publication is not known and an estimate was made. Most of the material is in German. Other languages present include Low German, French, Dutch, English, Russian, Latin, and Czechoslovakian. Some of the oldest materials are written in Gothic Old German script style, however, most of the material is not in Gothic.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Some of the material appeared to have been gone through by a friend or family member of Alexander Rempel, prior to arriving at the Heritage Centre. (See genealogy series description.) After the second donation was received, acting archivist Peter Rempel, made a preliminary inventory. During the summer of 1995 college student Conrad Stoesz went through the collection again creating file lists for a preliminary finding aid. Stoesz updated the the preliminary finding aid some more during the summer of 1998. The current arrangement and finding aid was completed in 2000 by Archivist Conrad Stoesz and with further updates done on June 18, 2003 and April 30, 2004. Updated by Alf Redekopp, Dec. 23, 2010.

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none to access

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Finding aids

Finding aid consists of a series description along with an inventory file list.

Online version of finding aid available at:,%20Alexander%20fonds.htm

Associated materials

Related material: Alexander Rempel submitted some articles to the newspaper Der Bote, and his obituary can also be found there. The Mennonite Historian also published an article by Peter Rempel entitled "Alexander Rempel (1915-1985): Reflections on his Life and Work", in 1986. Alexander Rempel also contributed an article about his father that can be found in Mennonitisches Lexikon, volume III, p. 470-474.

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Language of material note

High German, Low German, French, Dutch, English, Russian, Latin, and Czechoslovakian. Some of the oldest materials are written in Gothic Old German script style, however, most of the material is not in Gothic.

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  • English

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