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Anwohner was the German name commonly used for the landless Mennonites of South Russia who settled in little shacks on the outskirts of prosperous villages eking out a meager living. The literal meaning of the word is "living adjacent" and it implied the same as "across the tracks." The problem of this Mennonite proletariat arose for the following reasons: families were usually large, government regulations prohibited the subdivision of standard farms, surplus land was either not available or had already been distributed, and additional industries had not been sufficiently developed to absorb this labor. By 1860 nearly two-thirds of the Molotschna families were landless or Anwohner. They were forced to become artisans, or farm hands, with a few acres of land for gardens, and had no voice in the conduct of secular government. The problem of the landless was gradually solved by making all surplus land available to them, by dividing farms, by establishing a mutual aid system through which daughter settlements were established, and the development of industries. Nevertheless, most of the settlements continued to have a surplus population living as Anwohner. The Alexanderwohl village may be typical. In 1874 40% of the population were landless. At that time the pressure was relieved by a large migration to North America.

See also Agriculture among the Mennonites of Russia and Industry

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Anwohner." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 29 Feb 2020.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1953). Anwohner. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 February 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 135-136. All rights reserved.

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