Bergmann, Hermann A. (1850-1919)
Hermann Abram Bergmann: politician and estate owner; born 12 June 1850 in Dirschau, Gross Werder, Prussia, to Abraham C. Bergmann (30 August 1823 - 1864) and Susanna (Friesen) Bergmann (b. 4 September 1818). He was the third of four children in the family, of whom only he and his younger brother Abram survived childhood. The family immigrated to Russia in 1862 and settled onto an estate beside the village of Solenoye near the Chortitza Mennonite Settlement. On 17 August 1872, he married Helena Heinrichs (12 May 1853, Korneyevka Chutor, Ekaterinoslav, South Russia - 1927, Fiske, Saskatchewan, Canada) on the Bergmannstal estate. Helena was the daughter of Julius K. Heinrichs (10 February 1833 - 16 October 1894) and Susanna (Janzen) Heinrichs (28 October 1832 - 1 September 1859). Hermann and Helena had 11 children, six of whom survived childhood: Hermann, Julius, Abram, Helena, Anganetha, and Heinrich.
Hermann was only 12 years old when he and his family moved from Prussia to Russia. His father died soon after their arrival, and his mother later married a man named Warkentin, who ensured that his stepsons would receive a good education by sending them to study with the teacher Heinrich Franz in Taurida. In 1872, Hermann married Helena Heinrichs on his family’s estate. The couple had 11 children, three of whom were murdered at about the same time as Hermann and another five of whom died as children.
With the inheritance they received from their father and additional land purchases, Hermann and his brother established their estates near each other. Hermann raised sheep, as well as running a brick factory, a windmill, and a steam mill. In addition, he became involved in various community activities, assisting the peasants in purchasing land, as well as serving as director of the Ekaterinoslav orphanage and helping to oversee the high school in Sursko-Litovsk.
Bergman provided food for the poor during years of famine, and in 1892, he was appointed an official government supervisor of famine relief. When the local Orthodox church in Solenoye needed repairs, Hermann helped build a fence and beautify the building in exchange for an agreement that the village would close the local bar for six years. He was also the director of the Peasants’ Small-Credit Bank. His work became so well known in the community that an 1889 article in a publication of the Ekaterinoslav Orthodox Church praised Hermann’s philanthropic work among the peasants of Solenoye. During the First World War, Hermann and his sons funded a hospital in Ekaterinoslav, in addition to working on many other projects. In 1905, the family moved from the Bergmannstal estate into Ekaterinoslav.
In addition to his work in community organizations, Bergmann was elected to the governing committee of Ekaterinoslav (the zemstvo) in 1890; even after he was elected to the Duma (the national assembly) in 1907, he remained an honorary member of the Ekaterinoslav committee. He was a member of four Duma committees and helped Mennonites deal with issues of land expropriation, language, and alternative service. Although he rarely spoke out publicly, Hermann lobbied for changes in policies on religious questions, cost of living, schooling, and other issues. However, in the anarchy that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917, Hermann and other wealthy landowners received threats against their lives. Near the end of January 1919, Hermann, together with several others, attempted to flee the area but was caught and imprisoned. Hermann was murdered on 3 February 1919 in Balki along with sons Julius and Abram. His body was later recovered and buried. Hermann's eldest son Hermann was also murdered in 1919.
Hermann Abram Bergmann was a dedicated politician and philanthropist who used his wealth to benefit the community where he lived. Despite the tragic end to his life, he had a profound impact on his family and the other people he encountered in his work, church, and home life.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.02 ed. Fresno, CA:, 2010: #311360.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 164.
Huebert, Helmut T. Mennonite Estates in Imperial Russia. Winnipeg, MB: Springfield Publishers, 2005: 281-285.
Rempel, David G. and Cornelia Rempel Carlson. A Mennonite Family in Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, 1789-1923. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.
Hermann A. Bergmann was a wealthy Mennonite landlord in southern Russia. Born in West Prussia, he had come to the Ukraine with his parents when he was 12 years old. The father bought a large estate near the village of Solyonoye in the province of Ekaterinoslav. Subsequent purchases by Hermann enlarged the estate to approximately 30,000 acres. Having now joined the ranks of the landed gentry, which class had a virtual monopoly of all important positions in the rural (zemstvo) agencies of government, local political offices of one sort or another fell almost automatically to Hermann Bergmann. For a number of years he was, first, a member of the Ekaterinoslav county governing committee and subsequently a member of this county's assembly. In addition to the above positions, he held other offices at one time or another. Among these the notable ones were that of director of a small-loans society, overseer of the Ekaterinoslav orphanage, and member of the board of directors of the Mennonite high school at Nikolaipol. In 1905 the Bergmann family moved from its estate Bergmannstal, to take up residence in the city of Ekaterinoslav.
Politically Bergmann belonged to the Octobrist Party, which was virtually the only party satisfied with the Manifesto "On the Perfecting of the Order of the State," issued by Nicholas II on 30 October 1905. As implemented by subsequent decrees, this Manifesto established a bicameral legislature—the Council of State and the Duma, the upper and lower legislative chambers respectively. Members of the Duma were elected by a council of electors composed of two colleges of electors chosen respectively by the peasants and by the gentry. When despite this indirect mode of election, the First and Second Dumas (sessions opened on 10 May 1906, and 5 March 1907) manifested a degree of independence, the government decided to reduce to insignificance the voting power of the broad masses of the Russian people. By a most brazen method of gerrymandering and a peculiar "curial" system of representation, the percentage of peasant representation in subsequent Dumas was reduced from 39 to 19 per cent and that of the gentry increased from 25 to 51 per cent, i.e., where one peasant deputy in 1906 represented about 800,000 peasants, in 1912 he represented 1,700,000 peasants, while a gentry deputy, having in the former year represented 28,000 voters, represented 15,000 voters in 1912. It was to these last two Dumas (Third, 1907-1912; Fourth, 1912-1917), from which "the people's face" was virtually banned, that Hermann Bergmann and another Mennonite large landowner, Peter Schroeder, were elected. During the winter of 1918-1919, when anarchy reigned supreme throughout most of southern Russia, Bergmann, with several close relatives, was brutally murdered by bandits toward the end of January.
John G. Rempel, Mennonite Encyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 280.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 280. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. "Bergmann, Hermann A. (1850-1919)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2010. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4593.html.
APA style: Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. (September 2010). Bergmann, Hermann A. (1850-1919). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4593.html.