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While it may be argued that Altona was the logical place for the station with its central location and the presence of the Farmers' Oil Company, some of the Gretna area farmers had, in fact, wanted to establish the co-op service in Gretna, but were prevented by a small group of influential merchants in the town." This probably was not the crucial factor in the station's eventual location in Altona, but the failure to establish a co-operative enterprise in Gretna before 1939 hurt Gret na's business prospects. By 1939 Altona was the undisputed co-opera tive business center in the area.
While the co-operative enterprises facilitated Rhineland's recov ery in the 1930's, they did not go unopposed. Merchants in all towns opposed the co-ops as detrimental to their business. This was par ticularly evident among non-Mennonite merchants. 34 It is interesting to note that co-operatives got their initial foothold in Altona, the town with the largest Mennonite population in the municipality. Some of those that opposed the co-operatives branded them communistic, citing their secular philosophy of mutual aid. 35 This was a particularly virulent charge at the time, with the recent flight of Russian Mennonites from Communist Russia. Some members of the Rhineland Agricultural So ciety, in fact, left the organization, because of its close link with co operatives.
The most concerted opposition to the co-operatives in Rhineland came from the merchants who saw it as a threat to private enterprise. When the Rhineland Consumers Co-operative opened for business in 1931, it immediately cut into the business of fuel dealers, garages and hardware stores, whose prices were considerably higher than those offered by the Co-op. When the co-operators opened a grocery store in Altona, merchants such as Sam Nitikman, Morris Goldberg, and Dave Loewen were in the forefront of the opposition, and predicted that the store would fail. 36 These merchants, however, did not have the power to keep the co-ops out of Altona. In Gretna and possibly other area towns, private merchants were able to keep the co-ops out until the end of the 1930's.37
That most of the opposition to co-operation came from private enterprise is born out by the experience of the credit unions which experienced little opposition. The credit union, it is argued, did not threaten anyone's business and therefore was more acceptable. Banks were unconcerned with the development of a credit union, since they did not cater primarily to the needs of ordinary people."
The Mennonite churches, while they did not promote the co operative movement, did not actively oppose it. The emigration of the most conservative Sommerfelder and Reinlaender Mennonites, com-