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Bargen Letter Collection
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Bargen Letter Collection

  • Collection
  • 1930-1977, 2004

The collection consists of letters written by Mennonites in the Soviet Union before and after the Second World War. They were written by family and friends of Franz Bargen (1894-1976) and his wife Liese (Regehr) Bargen (1897-1976), who immigrated to Canada in 1930.

This collection of letters is divided into two sections -- over 500 letters written between 1930-1938 and almost 800 letters written between 1939-1977, the post-World War II period. There is also one file containing the travel documents for Franz and Liese Bargen when they immigrated to Canada in 1930, as well as a Canadian naturalization document from 1945.

The letters written between 1930 and 1938 present the experiences of over 30 families -- relatives of Franz and Liese Bargen. The first letters originate in Sagradovka, the Mennonite settlement in Ukraine from which families were sent into forced labour camps. Letters between family members in exile and those outside the camps were the the lifeline for many prisoners during this time of terror, brought on by Joseph Stalin's policies. The writers of the letters knew the risks of making contact with "the West" -- prison or execution, yet they continued writing, and letters got through in various circuitous and covert ways. The Bargen family responded with letters, money and packages, knowing that much material would not reach its destination.

Bargen, Franz, 1894-1976

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