Fonds - Otto Klassen fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Otto Klassen fonds

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1970-1999 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

25 film reels : 5 hr., 47 min.
29 videocassettes : ca. 21hr. 35 min.
5 cm of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Otto Klassen was born April 7, 1927 in Schoeneberg, Ukraine to Bernhard Klassen and Katharina Derksen. He came to Germany in 1944. In 1947 he moved to Paraguay, settling in the Volendam Mennonite settlement. He married Kaethe Bergen in Paraguay in 1949. The family immigrated to Canada in 1955 and settled in Winnipeg where Otto established his own company, O. Klassen Masonry Ltd.

Otto Klassen received his first camera in 1944 and was also involved with filmmaking at that time. It was in Canada after 1955 that Klassen was inspired by Walt Disney, that he decided to pursue his filmmaking interest. He purchased his first professional 16 mm camera in 1967. He received much advise and encouragement from chief film editor of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) at that time.

Otto Klassen has become well known as a professional cameraman and independent film producer. His documentary films and videos are about Mennonite history, life, events and celebrations.

Custodial history

The material in this fonds was created by Otto Klassen and most of it was donated to the archives by Klassen. One donation was made by MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) and other materials have come in sporadically.

Scope and content

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.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Described by Alf Redekopp December 2002.

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No restrictions to access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Some restrictions to copying excerpts apply.

Finding aids

Finding aid consists of series descriptions and a file list.

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

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Language of material note

English, High German, Low German, and Spanish.

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  • English

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