The Russlandmennonitische Studienkommission was a committee of three Mennonite leaders of the Ukraine, from the Molotschna settlement, appointed in 1919 after the terrible experiences of the Mennonites of Russia in World War I, the Revolution, and their aftermath, apparently by the Allgemeiner Mennonitischer Kongress. The primary purpose of the Commission was to report to Western Europe and to America on conditions among the Mennonites in Russia and to study settlement possibilities abroad. The members were A. A. Friesen, chairman, B. H. Unruh, secretary (both teachers in the Kommerzschule in Halbstadt), and C. H. Warkentin, a merchant. Johann Esau, former mayor of Ekaterinoslav, then living in Berlin, Germany, offered to join the group. Friesen and Unruh, together with H. H. Epp of Chortitza, had been sent to Germany in the summer of 1918 as a commission to study the possibilities of repatriation to Germany, where they learned that such a plan was impossible.
The Studienkommission members left Russia 1 January 1920, via Constantinople, and after spending some time in Germany and Holland consulting Mennonite leaders there, reached New York on 13 June. Their urging led to the founding of the Mennonite Central Committee at Elkhart, Indiana, in July, and the Canadian Central Committee at Rosthern, Saskatchewan, on 18 October 1920 (became the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization 17 May 1922). As the only preacher in the group, Unruh was sent on a deputation tour of Mennonite churches in the United States and Canada (accompanied for a time by Esau, who soon returned to Berlin, to settle later in California), while Friesen studied settlement possibilities in the western states and provinces and in Mexico. Unruh returned to Europe on 1 November 1920, while Friesen and Warkentin stayed in Canada. Unruh then set up in Karlsruhe a permanent office for Russian Mennonite emigration matters, where he lived until his death in 1959.
The formation in December 1920 of the Dutch Mennonite Algemene Kommissie voor buitenlandsche Nooden at Rotterdam was due in part to a proposal by Unruh. A. A. Friesen was for many years secretary of the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization. His files, with much material on the Studienkommission and the immigration of the Russian Mennonites, are now in the Mennonite Library and Archives, North Newton, Kansas. Unruh's files have been lost, but his unpublished manuscript "Fügung und Führung" (copies at Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, Indiana) contains much information on the same area.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1128. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Russlandmennonitische Studienkommission." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/russlandmennonitische_studienkommission.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Russlandmennonitische Studienkommission. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/russlandmennonitische_studienkommission.