Omsk (Siberia, Russia)
Omsk, a city in the Omsk Region, Siberia, located at the confluence of the Irtysh and Ob rivers, a significant railroad center on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, was founded in 1716 and was formerly the capital of Western Siberia and of Akmolinsk province. With the expansion of Siberian trade it became the meeting place of European businessmen and Asiatics seeking an outlet for their products.
Omsk became the gateway of the Mennonites into Siberia. Contrary to their tradition in European Russia, the first Mennonites in Siberia settled in the city of Omsk. Peter J. Wiens, the first Mennonite known to have settled in Siberia, started a business there in 1897, maintaining a general store and a store for farm machinery in Mokraya. In addition he farmed some land. Later he also established a branch of his farm implement store in the city of Slavgorod. His business in Omsk grew rapidly and he built a large two-story building on the Vtoroy Vsvos in Mokraya. All of his property was confiscated during the Revolution of 1917.
In 1902 Johann P. Isaak and his brother bought some land south of Omsk in Kulomzino on the Irtysh River. Later, when Novo-Omsk, the railroad station of Omsk, located a few miles south, was established here, he sold some of his farmland very favorably. A. A. Lepp sold his mill at Barvenkovo in the Ukraine and came to Kulomzino, where he purchased land from Johann P. Isaak on which he built a five-story steam-driven flour mill. Later he sold the mill and built a factory. One of the Mennonites who found their way to Omsk was a banker, Jakob Hildebrand, the son-in-law of P. J. Wiens. Dr. Johann Isaak was an oculist there (1914-1920). Some Mennonites found employment in Russian and foreign business enterprises. Jakob Epp of Ivanovka worked in Omsk after the Revolution of 1917 and represented the Mennonites there. In 1911 the Mennonites established a Zentralschule in Kulomzino (see Omsk Mennonite Zentralschule).
Omsk was also of significance for the Mennonite settlers in Siberia as the center for agents trying to serve land-hungry Europeans. In this respect Omsk was the gateway for the Mennonites looking for cheap land in Siberia. Some of the land agents tried to take advantage of the inexperienced land seekers (Hildebrand: 28).
During and after World War II Omsk very likely became the residence of Mennonites in exile and dispersion. Numerous letters came from the city indicating this. Aganetha Klassen wrote from Omsk that she and her family, formerly of Nieder-Chortitza, were living in the city (Bote, 15 April 1955: 7). Peter Barg, formerly of the province of Ufa, also reported that he and his family were living in the city of Omsk (Mennonitische Rundschau, 24 February 1954: 5, 8).
Fast, Gerhard. In den Steppen Sibiriens. Rosthern, SK: J. Heese, 1957.
Hildebrand, John J. Sibirien. Winnipeg, 1952.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 57. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius. "Omsk (Siberia, Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O565.html.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Omsk (Siberia, Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O565.html.