Braun, Heinrich Johann (1895-1983)
Heinrich Johann Braun: estate manager and member of the Selbstschutz; born 17 October 1895 to Johann and Gertrude Braun in Hierschau, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia. He was the second of four children born to his mother and father but the seventh of fifteen children in the family. In 1920, Heinrich moved to Yugoslavia and later to Henderson, Nebraska, USA. In 1929, he moved to Canada and married Katharina Kroeker on 15 April of that year. The couple had three children, all of whom survived childhood. After Katharina’s death, Heinrich married Margaret Schroeder in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, on 11 October 1953. Heinrich spent his last years at the Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he died on 28 May 1983.
When Heinrich was four years old, his father died and several of the children were sent to foster homes. Heinrich and his two younger sisters, however, stayed with their mother, who later remarried and had six more children. Heinrich studied at the village school for seven years, but he was forced to leave school and help manage the estate because of his stepfather’s poor health. In 1915, he began 22 months of alternative forestry service (Forsteidienst) in Anadol, Ukraine; he finally obtained a medical leave because of his deteriorating health, and he was able to return to Hierschau.
On his return home, Heinrich discovered that villagers in Hierschau had organized a branch of the Selbstschutz to defend themselves against attacks from bandits. Heinrich joined and was eventually named head of the group, but he was forced to flee when his life was threatened. He later returned home and joined the White (pro-tsarist) Army, but he had to flee again, this time to a ship heading into the Black Sea.
After several months of sailing, Braun and his companions landed in Yugoslavia, where they found work and accommodations with farmers in the region. After learning that it would be dangerous for them to return home, Heinrich and two friends immigrated to the United States, where they settled in Henderson, Nebraska, and found work on farms nearby. In 1924, Heinrich was baptized and joined the Henderson Mennonite Brethren Church.
Heinrich's siblings immigrated to Canada in October 1926, living first near Rosthern, Saskatchewan before moving to Namaka, Alberta. Heinrich visited his family in Canada, where he met Katharina "Tina" Kroeker from Bruderfeld, Saskatchewan. They were married on 15 April 1929 and settled on a farm in the Bruderfeld area. The couple had two boys and a girl.
In 1949, Heinrich and Tina Braun decided to move to Manitoba, and they purchased a farm near Alexander, close to the Assiniboine River. Heinrich also built a fish trap on the river, allowing the family to eat fish regularly. They continued to farm until Tina died on 3 January 1953 after a ten-year struggle with cancer.
On 11 October 1953, Heinrich married Margaret Schroeder in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, and continued to live on the farm in Alexander. Heinrich retired in 1959, after which the Brauns moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where they joined the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church. Margaret died of cancer on 29 June 1972. Heinrich later moved into a seniors’ residence in Boissevain, Manitoba and then to the Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, where he died on 28 May 1983. His funeral was on 1 June at the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church.
Although Heinrich Johann Braun did not always follow the precepts of his ancestors, he remained dedicated to his church and his community. Throughout the struggles of his life, he tried to live faithfully and to be an example for his family and his community.
Braun, Heinrich. Interview by author.
Goertzen, Mrs. Peter K. Personal letter.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.05 ed. Fresno, CA:, 2010: #73332.
Huebert, Helmut. Hierschau: An Example of Russian Mennonite Life. Winnipeg, MB: Springfield Publishers, 1986: 259-266.
Huebert, Katharina. Interview by author.
Mennonitische Rundschau (29 June 1983): 27.
Zionsbote (7 February 1940): 11-12.
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MLA style: Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. "Braun, Heinrich Johann (1895-1983)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2011. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/braun_heinrich_johann_1895_1983.
APA style: Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. (January 2011). Braun, Heinrich Johann (1895-1983). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/braun_heinrich_johann_1895_1983.