Bergmann, Kornelius Peter (1872-1937)
Kornelius Peter Bergmann: teacher and writer; born 25 February 1872 in Ladekopp, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia to Peter and Elisabeth (Toews) Bergmann. He was the eldest of six children in the family. On 30 May 1899, he married Ida Staschau, daughter of a widow from Germany. The couple had no children of their own, but they took care of an adopted daughter for a time. He was involved in the Mennonite Brethren Church as a preacher, although he never became a member. Kornelius was arrested in 1936 and banished to Siberia, where he died on 17 December 1937.
Kornelius grew up in Ladekopp, where he attended school. He taught at the Neuhof Estate in the Brodsky region and then in the Molotschna village of Schönau. He attended the St. Petersburg Teachers’ Institute for three years, and during that time he met Ida Staschau, whom he later married. Upon his graduation from the institute in St. Petersburg, he became a teacher of German at the Halbstadt Zentralschule, working there from 1899 to 1906 and teaching pedagogical courses at the same time. He was known as an enthusiastic teacher who instilled a love of learning in his students.
In addition to teaching, Bergmann wrote extensively for various Mennonite periodicals and other publications, often under the pseudonym C. Orosander. His articles in Friedensstimme, Botschafter, Odessär Zeitung, and similar periodicals dealt mainly with the problems in the Mennonite communities. He was often sharply critical about the wrongs he observed, but his articles showed his deep concern for the community. He had a strong interest in nature, especially birds, and would collect specimens of various animals. In 1906, he published a treatise on animal rights called Volkstittlichkeit und Tierschutz. He also worked for the Molotschna Teachers’ Society and wrote a textbook for aspiring teachers.
In 1906, Kornelius and Ida travelled to Germany, where Kornelius studied Philosophy at the University of Jena. After a year, Kornelius suffered a “nervous breakdown,” from which he never fully recovered, and which made public ministry impossible for at least 15 years. Kornelius and Ida returned to Ladekopp, where his wife and relatives took care of him, even carrying him around on a stretcher when he appeared to be severely disabled. With time there seemed to be a gradual improvement in his condition, and by 1916, he was able to walk short distances again.
After his mother’s death in 1907, Bergmann and his wife moved, together with his father, to Rückenau to be closer to a brother, Abram. Kornelius and Ida lived there until about 1930, when they moved to Melitopol, just southwest of the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement.
Although he never returned to the teaching profession, Kornelius Bergmann preached on occasion. He also made it his mission to distribute tracts and New Testaments in 35 different languages, and he also visited many people who had been imprisoned. He was opposed to the emigration of teachers and ministers from Russia in the 1920s, believing that they were needed in the community.
In 1936, Kornelius Bergmann was arrested and imprisoned in Melitopol. His wife reported that Kornelius was at peace during that time, also encouraging and strengthening many others who were in prison. Kornelius was banished to Siberia in 1937, and on 17 December 1937, he died there as a result of the poor food and terrible conditions.
Kornelius Peter Bergmann was a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher and writer with a deep concern for his community. Although he remained somewhat aloof from mainstream Mennonite life, he was an important influence on his family and the community around him.
Bergmann Family documents, letters, manuscripts
Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: 602-603.
Penner, Michael. Of Russian Roots and Canadian Migration: The Illustrated Story of the Abram P. Bergmann and Katharina Wiens Family and Ancestry, 2nd ed. New Westminster, BC: MBGP Publications, 2003: 48-63.
Toews, Aron A. Mennonite Martyrs: People Who Suffered for Their Faith 1920-1940, translated by John B. Toews. Winnipeg, MB: Kindred Press, 1990: 24-27.
Toews, Aron A. Mennonitische Märtyrer: der jüngsten Vergangenheit und der Gegenwart, 2 vols. North Clearbrook, BC: Selbstverlag des Vefassers, 1949-1954: v. I, 110-113.
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MLA style: Huebert, Helmut T. and Susan Huebert. "Bergmann, Kornelius Peter (1872-1937)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2009. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/bergmann_kornelius_peter_1872_1937.
APA style: Huebert, Helmut T. and Susan Huebert. (December 2009). Bergmann, Kornelius Peter (1872-1937). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/bergmann_kornelius_peter_1872_1937.