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Rosenfeld in 1916.

Credit: A. J. Thiessen

Russlaender Immigration 1923-1930

World War I also had momentous effects in Russia, where the upheavals of war would precipitate a revolution against the Tsarist regime. The new communist government which emerged was not favourably disposed to religious groups, foreign colonies within Rus­ sia, or prosperous individual landowners. The Mennonites, who had remained in Russia at the time of the migration to North America in 1874, had become very prosperous in their old homeland and fit all three of the unfavourable categories listed above. These circumstances, along with the ravages of civil war and famine, eventually led to the emigration of 20,000 Mennonites to Canada. For those that were able to leave and for many more that could not, the Russia they had known was a lost world. Economic devastation, physical violence, disease and arbitrary policies poisoned the social and moral atmosphere of the Mennonite colonies and "destroyed the Mennonite sense of identifica­ tion with Russia". 31 To them, Russia was a "Lost Fatherland". Those Russian Mennonite emigres who eventually settled in the R.M. of Rhineland in the 1920's, brought with them this sense of a lost Com­ monwealth," and tried to recreate it in Manitoba.

The 40,000 Mennonites who had chosen to remain in Russia during the 1870's, had by 1914 grown to a population of 120,000 with 50 settlements and 440 villages encompassing over 3,000,000 acres of land." They had become affluent and boasted large private estates,

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