Wiebe, Peter P. (1900-1937?)

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Peter Peter Wiebe: bookkeeper and choir conductor; born 19 March 1900 to Peter Peter and Aganetha (Klassen) Wiebe, probably in Chortitza, Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, South Russia. He was the second of four children in the family. On 11 March 1923, he married Elisabeth Loewen, daughter of Jakob and Susanna Loewen of Chortitza. The couple had five children. Peter was arrested by the Narodnyy komissariat vnutrennikh del (NKVD), the Soviet Union's secret police, on 15 December 1937, was taken away, together with at least eight other men, and was never seen again.

In his early years, Peter likely attended elementary school and Zentralschule in his village. Following this schooling, Peter might also have had training as a bookkeeper, since he eventually took up this occupation and obtained work in a business owned by relatives. During World War I, Peter completed his military service in the Sanitätsdienst as an orderly in the medical corps. His father had owned a store in Chortitza but was shot and killed, likely in 1919, when bandits led by Nestor Makhno overran the village and committed a number of atrocities.

In addition to his work as a bookkeeper, Wiebe served as a conductor of the Chortitza Allianz Gemeinde choir at the church where his uncle, Abram Klassen, was a senior conductor and a minister. Presumably, Peter eventually became the lead conductor. One of the singers in the choir was Elisabeth Loewen, daughter of Jakob and Susanna Loewen of Chortitza, who sometimes did solo work for the group. She and Peter became acquainted, likely through the choir, and they eventually married in 1923 in Chortitza. After their marriage, they worked extensively in the church, helping in a variety of areas. Until they were able to buy their own house, they lived with Elisabeth’s parents. Peter and Elisabeth had five children, born between 1924 and 1936, all of whom survived childhood.

On 15 December 1937, Wiebe was arrested without warning during Stalin’s purge, possibly just to fill a quota, as the family knew of no reason for the arrest. Three NKVD officers, accompanied by a Russian neighbor who acted as a witness, pounded on the door and were admitted into the house. They then rifled through the family’s belongings until they found a letter from Peter’s relatives in Canada, which they considered to be evidence of spying, and they arrested Peter. As he stood at the door, he quoted his favorite Bible verse before being taken away, together with at least eight other men. He was never seen again, but Elisabeth later heard that he had died soon after his arrest. In 1943, Elisabeth and her children left their home and escaped to Poland and later to East Friesland. They next moved to Canada, landing in Quebec on 18 August 1948 before moving west to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Peter Peter Wiebe was a dedicated musician and church worker whose help with the Chortitza choir and other programs in the church enhanced congregational life for many people. Despite the tragic end to his life, he was an example of faithfulness for the people around him.


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GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.06 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2011: #321266, 383004.

Kroeker, N. J. First Mennonite Villages in Russia: 1789-1943. Vancouver, BC: self-published, 1981: 124, 215.

Obituary. "Elizabeth Wiebe." Die Mennonitische Rundschau (31 January 1990): 25.

"Verzeichnis der Ermordeten Mennoniten in den Jahren 1921, 20, 19, 18, 17 in der Alt-Kolonie." Die Mennonitische Rundschau (19 July 1922): 5.

Wiebe, Paul, personal and family information.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Helmut T. Huebert
Date Published March 2011

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MLA style

Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. "Wiebe, Peter P. (1900-1937?)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2011. Web. 10 Jul 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wiebe,_Peter_P._(1900-1937%3F)&oldid=96836.

APA style

Huebert, Susan and Helmut T. Huebert. (March 2011). Wiebe, Peter P. (1900-1937?). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wiebe,_Peter_P._(1900-1937%3F)&oldid=96836.

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