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archival descriptions
Otto Klassen fonds
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125th Anniversary of Mennonites in Manitoba: 1874-1999

This film is of the celebration held at the Forks in Winnipeg on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Mennonites in Manitoba. In 1874 Russian Mennonites came down the Red River on river boats and landed at the Forks in Winnipeg to get supplies and then traveled back up the Red River and disembarked near current day Niverville, Manitoba to begin settling.

The celebration included a re-enactment of the river boat coming to the Forks with actors dressed in period costume. This event was planned by a special ad hock committee of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society (MMHS).

50 Year Freedom Jubilee: Praise God for Canada

This production was created on the occasion of the 50 year anniversary of the coming to Canada of Mennonite survivors of the horrors and terror of World War II in 1948. The production was intended as a souvenir video of the 50 year celebration of their freedom in Canada. Filmmaker Otto Klassen begins the production with scenes from the 1985 Mennonite Monument dedication to the 20th century victims of war, followed by a recording of the celebration which saw 900 people gather under a tent on August 15, 1998 at the Mennonite Village Museum to remember and give thanks.

Guest speakers included Peter J. Dyck, veteran Mennonite Central Committee worker telling the stories of his involvement in Berlin in 1948 and historian Marlene Epp who spoke of the contributions women made to the survival of roughly 13,000 Mennonites who emigrated to North and South America. Throughout the address by Epp, Klassen creates a collage of scenes of war using archival war footage acquired from the German archives.

The video also captures a second celebration event which took place the following day, August 16, 1998, in the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg which featured the Jubilee Singers led by Dr. John Martens, Dr. Harry Loewen, former Chair of Mennonite Studies, University of Winnipeg, Dr. Johanness Reimer of Germany as well as Peter J. Dyck and Marlene Epp. Politicians bringing greeting included MLA Jack Penner and MP David Iftody. Entire list of speakers: Dr. Peter Dyck, Agnes Dyck, Elvira Derksen, Dr. Marlene Epp, Dr. George K. Epp, Hon. Jake Epp, Rev. Gerhard Ens, Rev. Jake Harms, Hon. David Iftody, Rev. Hermann Lenzmann, Dr. Harry Loewen, Peter H. Peters, Hon. Jack Penner, Dr. Johannes Reimer, Viktor Sawatzky, Jacob R. Wiebe.

75 Years Mennonites in Mexico

  • CA MHCA Videocassettes nos. 198-203, 246-255; Vol. 5029:7 (textual).
  • Series
  • 1997-1998
  • Part of Otto Klassen fonds

This series of 3 videos and a German script present the 75 year history of the Canadian Mennonites who moved to Mexico beginning in 1922. The titles include Old Colony Mennonites Emigrate from Canada to Mexico (Part 1), Pioneers in Mexico: Canadian Mennonites Colonize in Mexico (Part 2), 75th Anniversary Celebration of Mennonites in Mexico 1922-1997(Part 3)

The Mennonites were promised control of their schools, language and way of life – freedoms which were being lost in Canada. Approximately 7000 of these Canadian Mennonites from the Old Colony and Sommerfeld groups from Manitoba and Saskatchewan migrated to Mexico between 1922 and 1926. Part one documents the historical background of these people and the actual migration. Part two document the development of these Canadians in Mexico as they continue to colonize. Part three is a report of the 75 year celebrations held in 1998. These productions were shown in many communities in Manitoba to raise money for the establishment of a museum/archives in Mexico in the Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Gespräch: Delegatenreise 1921

This video consists of a play depicting the Canadian Mennonite delegates from Manitoba and Saskatchewan who went to Mexico to investigate the possibility of finding an area where a large number of Mennonites from Canada could settle and retain their way of life which was being challenged and eroded in Canada.

Im Dienst Der Liebe (KM 81)

  • CA MHCA Film nos. 30 to 32. Videocassettes 196-197, 265.
  • Series
  • 1990
  • Part of Otto Klassen fonds

This film is about the leprosy mission hospital in Paraguay established by the Mennonites in 1951 known as Hospital Mennonita Km 81, located in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Mennonite Monument Video

This item consists of the worship service held on July 28, 1985 at the Mennonite Village Museum in Steinbach, Manitoba at the unveiling and dedication of the Mennonite Monument to the victims of war and terror in the 20th century. The service consisted of English and German language speeches and music. Participants in the event included Mennonite leaders, historians, politicians, ministers and others. Speakers include: Gerhard Ens, MP Jake Epp, Minister of Health and Welfare, MLA Victor Schroeder, Minister of Finance, Eugene Derksen, Gerhard I. Peters, Wilhelm Pauls, Hans Epp, Gerhard Lohrenz, George K. Epp, Heinrich Wiebe and Herman Lenzman.

Mennonites Conquer the Vistula Delta

This film presents the history of the persecuted Dutch Mennonites who found refuge in the Vistual Delta region of Poland and tells the story of their draining the marshes and developing a fertile agricultural region in the area. The film is narrated by Gerhard Ens.

Otto Klassen fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1970-1999

This fonds includes digital masters, optical and negative tracks, broadcast VHS and Beta master videocassettes, release prints in 16 mm film and VHS video format. The moving images contain some colour and some black and white scenes. Otto Klassen's productions are the result of extensive research in archives, both in Canada and Germany. These productions represent the first time that the story of the Mennonite people in Prussia, Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Paraguay have been told through moving images. Several productions were released in multiple languages -- English, German, Low German and Spanish. At least 11 separate titles or series are represented in this fonds. 1) The Great Trek 1939-1945, 2) Prairie Pioneers: The Mennonites of Manitoba 3) Mennonites Conquer the Vistula Delta 4) Mennonite Monument 5) 75 years Mennonites in Mexico 6) 50 year Freedom Jubilee: Praise God for Canada 7) Women of Courage: Stories of Sadness & Stories of Suvival 8) Gespräch: Delgatenreise 1921 9) Im Dienst Der Liebe (KM 81), 10) Frajoa Enn De Oost-resaew, "Three Short Plays" 11) 125th Anniversary of Mennonites in Manitoba: 1874-1999.

Klassen, Otto, 1927-

Prairie Pioneers: The Mennonites of Manitoba

This film covers the 100 year anniversary of Mennonites in Manitoba in the context of the Manitoba centennial as well the other centennial celebrations in Winkler, Altona, Steinbach, Emerson and Plum Coulee. Significant scenes include the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Steinbach in 1970, as well as a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. It includes short sequences showing the major Mennonite institutions includes Mennonite Collegiate Institute (Gretna), Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, Mennonite Brethren Bible College and College of Arts, Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Concordia Hospital and several of the large Winnipeg Mennonite churches. The film covers events such as community parades, a hymn sing at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg and a thanksgiving celebration at the Winnipeg Arena in 1975. Other significant persons seen on this film include Manitoba premier Edward Schreyer, City of Winnipeg mayor Steve Juba, and alderman John Klassen of was in charge of the City of Winnipeg centennial celebrations. The film is narrated by Dr. Al Reimer.

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