Refugee Camps

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Refugee Camps (Flüchtlingslager, later called Mennonite Homes, Mennonitenheime), shelters for the remnants of Mennonite refugees from Russia, located at Mölln, Wandsbeck, and Altona on the Elbe, established in 1929. About 16,000 Mennonites and other Russians of German descent at that time left their homes under terrible pressure of the Soviet government to go to Moscow and from there to Canada and the United States. The refugees who managed to escape at all made their way via Germany. Here they were temporarily lodged in refugee camps at Hammerstein, 4,000 persons; Prenslau, 1,500 persons; and Mölln. They were cared for in the best possible manner under the direction of the German government committee in charge of aid to Germans escaping from Russia and the German relief committee Brüder in Not. They enjoyed frequent visits by German Mennonite preachers. Special services were rendered by Mayor and Mrs. Wolff in Mölln, Johann P. Braun, and B. H. Unruh.

In April 1930 the Prenslau camp was dissolved, and at the end of the year the Hammerstein camp also. The remaining refugees stayed in Mölln. On 1 February 1931, acting on a resolution passed by the Mennonite World Relief Conference, the refugee camp was turned into a Mennonite home. After eighteen months, when the lease on the building at Mölln expired, the home was moved to Wandsbeck; later another building was rented in Altona, which sheltered 50 persons. Nearly all the inmates of the Altona home soon left for America. The few who remained were provided for elsewhere. On 1 May 1936, the Mennonite Home was closed, terminating an important phase of the work of Brüder in Not.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III: 106.

Mennonitische Blätter (1930): 7; (1931): 5, 7, 14, 41; (1932): 91; (1934): 27.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1959

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Neff, Christian. "Refugee Camps." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 7 Jul 2020.

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Neff, Christian. (1959). Refugee Camps. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 July 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 270. All rights reserved.

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