Collection MHC20 - Schroeder-Fast Letters from Ukraine Collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Schroeder-Fast Letters from Ukraine Collection

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  • Textual record

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Dates of creation area


  • 1930-1988, predominantly 1930-1934 (Collection)
    Fast, David J., 1899-1979
  • 1930-1988, predominantly 1930-1934 (Collection)
    Fast, Agatha (Schroeder), 1903-1996
  • 1930-1988, predominantly 1930-1934 (Creation)
    Johann and Helene (Warkentin) Fast Family
  • 1930-1988, predominantly 1930-1934 (Creation)
    Peter and Katharina Schroeder family

Physical description area

Physical description

4 cm of textual records
1 CD with 3 pdf files (4545 kb)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Johann Gerhard Fast, born April 25, 1860, in Petershagen, Molotschna (Russia), and Helene Warkentin, born Jan. 25, 1859, in Rueckenau, Molotschna, were married on the Warkentin parental estate of Gruenhof, in the Schoenfeld district, Ekaterinoslav province, Feb. 10, 1883. Helene inherited the larger part of the estate. The couple settled in Gruenhof where their family of six sons was born: Jakob (Jasch), Johann (Hans), Gerhard, Heinrich, David, and Peter. In 1898 Johann was elected minister of the Schoenfeld congregation. He had a preference for village life, and a keen business sense. In 1907 he sold the property in Gruenhof and bought two farms, with numerous large buildings, in Memrik. They were spared the trauma of the Stalinist era: Johann died June 16, 1915, from a series of strokes, and Helene from typhoid fever, Jan. 11, 1920.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Peter Schroeder was born Oct. 4, 1859 on the estate of Neuteich, Taschtchenak, Melitopol district, which had been purchased by his ancestor, David Schroeder (1776-1834). Here Peter was taught by Hermann Janzen and later married his daughter, Katharina, on June 1, 1889. She was born in Ohrloff, Molotschna, Mar. 25, 1862, and trained as a teacher. The couple moved to Shelannaja near the Memrik colony, where Peter’s mother had purchased a Russian nobleman’s large estate in 1884. Here their six children were born: Peter (Petja), Margarethe (Grete), Katharina (Katja), Anna (Njuta), Agnes, and Agatha (Hasha). Following the Revolution of 1917, the family was driven off the estate and moved to Memrik the next year. Identified as a kulak (wealthy landowner) under the Stalin regime harassment intensified, including a brief imprisonment, and the couple took up residence with their son Petja and his wife Susi in Dolinovka, the Kuban, November,

Custodial history

Agatha (Schroeder) Fast carefully preserved the letters in a tin box, brought from Russia, used to store a married woman’s head covering (Haube). In this box the letters were kept and travelled with the Fasts from their first place of residence in Manitoba, Glenlea (1930 – 1931), to the farm in Chortitz (Randolph, 1931 – 1962), to their retirement home in Steinbach (1962 – 1982), and to Winnipeg (1982 – till her death in 1996). Then the letters were in the home of her daughter in Altona (1996–1998), when her son Peter Fast acquired them, and worked at the translation.

Scope and content

This collection consists of 50 letters written by members of the Peter Schroeder and Johann Fast families from 1930-1988. These are letters which the David and Agatha Fast family of Manitoba received from members of the family who were left behind in the Soviet Union when they emigrated in 1929-1930. Of the 50 letters, 42 were written between 1930-1934, and the remaining 8, scattered widely over the period from 1939-1988. They convey the experiences of the terrifying Stalinist years and convey glimpses into how life unfolded for the family.
There is also one CD with a digital copy of the publication We must Adapt (Wir Muessen Uns Schicken): The Schroeder-Fast Letters 1930-1938: Learning to Live in Stalinist Russia (2nd Edition), 2012.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Victor and Rudy Fast delivered the publication on 7 May 2012. Peter Fast and his sister Margaret delivered the original letters on 27 August 2012.


Described by Alf Redekopp, March 2013.

Language of material

  • German

Script of material

  • Gothic

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Digital images for each letter in jpg format.

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Finding aids

Translations of the letters were published in We must Adapt (Wir Muessen Uns Schicken): The Schroeder-Fast Letters 1930-1938: Learning to Live in Stalinist Russia (2nd Edition), 2012. This publication gives the political and economic context for each letter, greatly enhancing the understanding of their meaning.

Associated materials

David J. Fast fonds (Vol. 2106:7).

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General note

Acc. No. 2012-072

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  • Box: Volume 5680