Collection 00/MS.139 - Walter Quiring Papers 1932-1950

Identity area

Reference code

US BCMLA 00/MS.139


Walter Quiring Papers 1932-1950


  • 1932-1950 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.45 Cubic Feet

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Walter Quiring was born Jakob Quiring in the Village of Friedensliebe, Ukraine on July 7, 1893.  He fled the Soviet Union for Germany in 1921 with his wife, Maria Friesen, and son, Manfred.

He received a PhD from the University of Munich in 1928 and taught at the Schlossschule at Salem on Bodensee from 1927-1934.  During that time, he changed his first name to Walter.

From 1934 to 1936, Quiring conducted research on Mennonite colonies in Paraguay and Brazil.  Upon his return to Germany, he served as a department leader in the Deutsche Auslandinstitut in Stuttgart.

He was drafted into the German army in 1941 as a translator and journalist and ended the war as a British prisoner.  In 1950, he emigrated to Canada.  There he edited various German language publications, including "Mennonitische Welt" (1950-1953) and "Der Bote" (1955-1963). 

From 1963 to 1965, he served as Professor of German and Slavic languages at United College, Winnepeg. 

Quiring's publications include:  "Deutsche erschliessen den Chaco" (1936), "Russlanddeutsche suchen eine Heimat" (1938), "Im Schweisse deines Angesichts" (1953), "Mennonites in Canada" (1961), and "Als ihre Zeit erfuellt war" (1964).

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

text from Gameo entry:

Benjamin Heinrich Unruh: outstanding Russian Mennonite teacher and later emigration leader; b. at Timir-Bulat (German, Philippstal), Crimea, Russia, on 17 September 1881, the son of Heinrich Benjamin Unruh and Elisabeth (Wall) Unruh, (an older brother was Abraham H. Unruh; see additional information for further information regarding Benjamin's family). His first wife was Frieda Hege (1880-1946); of this marriage eight children were born. His second wife was Paula Hotel (1911-1998). Benjamin died in a hospital in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on 12 May 1959.

His father was the elder of the Mennonite (Kirchliche Mennoniten) Church at Karassan, Crimea, but Benjamin was baptized a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church at Spat at the age of 18. Benjamin attended the Orloff Zentralschule, Molotschna, followed by the pedagogical course at Halbstadt. He passed the teachers' examination at the Russian secondary school at Simferopol, and in 1899 the Russian state examination at Kharkov. His education was crowned by attendance at two higher schools in Basel, Switzerland, followed by the University 1900-7, and the Predigerseminar, parallel in the earlier years. He received the Licentiate in theology, which was equivalent to the doctor's degree, in Church History at Basel, and the honorary Doctor of Theology at the University of Heidelberg in 1937. He also served for a number of years as lecturer in Russian language and literature at the Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule.

Unruh's career in Russia was that of teacher, serving at the Halbstadt Kommerzschule, where he taught German and Religion. He wrote a Bibelkunde for the Mennonite schools of Russia that caused some controversy in Mennonite circles there. In 1920 he was appointed a member of the Studienkommission chosen by the Mennonites of Russia to seek out emigration possibilities in foreign countries. As such he spent most of 1920 in western Europe and North America. After his return to Europe in November 1920 he settled in Karlsruhe, Germany, living most of the time in the suburb of Rüppurr.

From 1920 to the end of his active days, about 1955, Unruh served the interests of his Russian Mennonite brethren in emigration and resettlement, working in this respect directly as commissioner for the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization for the immigration to Canada 1921-25 and later, and for the Mennonite Central Committee in immigration to Paraguay 1930-33. He long continued a close relationship with the new settlements in both countries by correspondence and the writing of articles in the German Mennonite press. In Germany he was a member of numerous organizations dealing with German refugees from Russia; e.g., Brüder in Not 1930 ff., and Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland. In his varied service in this field he became widely known and highly regarded and rendered extraordinary service. Although not an ordained minister (he refused ordination unless he could be ordained by all branches of the Mennonites in Russia), and he never transferred his membership to a Mennonite congregation in Germany, he was an able speaker and preacher and was a well-known figure at Mennonite conferences in Germany.

Unruh was the author not only of numerous articles in the German Mennonite press of Germany and Canada but of a major scholarly work, Die niederlandisch - niederdeutschen Hintergründe der mennonitischen Ostwanderungen im 16., 18. und 19. Jahrhutidert (Karlsruhe-Rüppurr, 1955). His "Fügung und Fuhrung im Mennonitischen Welt-Hilfswerk 1920-1933, Streiflichter in personlicher und dienstlicher Rückschau," completed in 1958, has been deposited in manuscript with the Mennonite Central Committee at Akron, Pennsylvania, and the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

purchased from Quiring by Cornelius Krahn in 1971 or 1972

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Part I is a manuscript entitled “Gott hört uns nicht mehr”.  This appears to be a first-person, historical novel about Mennonites in the “Gulag” in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.  Previously, this item was cataloged in the MLA's library, accession #17547, acquired in 1972.       

Part II is a manuscript entitled “Wenn Gott die Weiche stellt”.  This is another historical novel, about Mennonite refugees from the Soviet Union.  This item was also cataloged in the MLA's library collection, accession #17462, acquired in 1972.       

Part III is a collection of source documents and notes entitled “Material zur Geschichte der Mennoniten in Brasilien”.  Most of the material covers the late 1940s and early 1950s.  As one can see, not all of the material is about Brazil.  These papers were at the Mennonite Church USA Archives–Goshen until 2011; the North Newton archives had photocopies.  The arrangement of the material here corresponds as closely as possible to Quiring's own outline for it.  Folder 22 is a manuscript by Johann Sjouke Postma entitled “Fernheim, Fernes Heim?”.  Folders 26-29 are not part of Quiring's outline.  The MLA has 909 individually numbered pages in this section.       

Part IV is a rough draft entitled “Witmarsum am Krauel”.  This is a more polished draft rather than a collection of documents as in Part III.  These are arranged according to Quiring's outline.  Folder 45 is not part of Quiring's outline and just contains notes, sources, and bibliography.       

Part V is entitled “Material zur Geschichte der Auflösung der Ansiedlung Witmarsum in Santa Catarina”.  This is again a collection of source documents and notes, from the late 1940s and early 1950s.  These items are photographic copies; that is, copies on photographic paper, not xerographic copies.  The present location of the originals [1989] is unknown.  The arrangement is according to Quiring's outline, but Roman numeral XIX from his outline, “Verschiedenes,” is missing. These deteriorating pages have been scanned [2011], in folder archives/ms_139.       

Part VI is a draft entitled “Canadische Mennoniten 1875-1975".  The termination date of 1975 seems somewhat strange since the manuscript was acquired by the MLA in 1972 and was cataloged as part of the MLA's library collection, accession #17461.  The manuscript may have been modified since 1972.  This is once again a draft rather than a collection of documents.  These are original materials, not photocopies.  The message of this rather rough draft is a bitter denunciation of contemporary Canadian Mennonitism for being different from the Mennonitism of Quiring's childhood.  The contents bear only a slight resemblance to Quiring's accompanying outline and may not be in original order.       

Part VII consists of two folders of miscellaneous drafts of articles by Quiring and several of his writings that had earlier been cataloged in the MLA library holdings.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


some papers were at Goshen archives until 2011

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

This material is open to the public.

Conditions governing reproduction

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. Copyright owned by the Mennonite Church USA Archives.

Language of material

  • English
  • German

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Existence and location of originals

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Notes area


Other Information:

Researchers will note that the pages in this collection are numbered.  The numbering system was largely honored in processing the collection.  Where it could not be honored, photocopies or notes have been inserted to maintain original order.

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  • English



Accession area