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Artur Laser fonds
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CA MHCA Volume 5429
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1992-2007, predominant 1992 (Creation)
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2 cm of textual records
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Name of creator
Artur Laser was born on 13 February 1925 in the village of Sorotschin, Shitomir, Ukraine (Volynia). His family settled in the village of Tiegerweide in the Mennonite Molotschna settlement in 1933, where he attended the first 4 years of his elementary schooling, followed by classes in Rueckenau for Grades 5, 6 and 7. By age 15 in 1940 he worked as a full labourer in the local collective farm. From 1941-1946 he worked in a concentration camp at Solikamsk, first as a labourer, then a locksmith, and finally as a repair locksmith, once the entire armament manufacturing was in full operation. After 1945 a paper mill was also built at Solikamsk where he worked as a repair locksmith for 18 years. He married Helen Lieder on 3 August 1948. They lived in the city of Solikamsk-Borowsk from 1948-1964, and then moved to Ergana, Usbekistan.
After Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, Artur Laser started actively identifying with the German Baptist and Mennonite Christians who often met privately in homes. He was baptized in 1955 by a Jacob Goerzen and continued to identify with the Baptist congregation, both during a period of the church being unregistered and during a time of being registered with the Soviet authorities.
During the Second World War, he and his father lost contact with his mother and siblings. In 1956 Artur heard that his mother and siblings had survived the war and were living in Winnipeg, Canada. Artur and his wife joine them when they emigrated from the USSR in 1973. Artur became a Canadian citizen in 1978.
Artur Laser worked for Monarch Industry in Winnipeg for a short period in 1973-74, and then at Washtronics. He retired in 1990 at the age of 65, and spent significant time in the subsequent years writing his memoirs.
The material is this fonds was initially sent to Michael Miller, Director and Bibliographer, The Libraries Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND around 2007. Mr. Miller delivered them to the Mennonite Heritage Centre on 7 August 2009.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of the memoirs of Artur Laser, a German Baptist Christian, who moved into a Mennonite community as a child, lived and went to school in Tiegerweide and Rueckenau, Molotschna, was commandeered to work in a Russian concentration camp in 1940, and who continued to meet and live among German-speaking Baptists and Mennonites, as religious life began to re-organize after Stalin's death. The memoirs provide political background against which many experiences are described from 1933 up until he immigrated to Canada in 1973. The memoirs includes notes on each change of Soviet leadership from Stalin through to Gorbechev, and how it affected religious and social life in the Soviet Union.
Immediate source of acquisition
Arranged and described by Alf Redekopp, August 2009.
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Online version of finding aid available at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives/holdings/papers/Laser,%20Artur%20fonds.htm
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