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Letters From Home cover

  • eBook Edition
    • 978-1-03-917736-9
    • epub, pdf files
  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-917734-5
    • 7.0 x 10.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 296 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-917735-2
    • 7.0 x 10.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 296 pages
  • Keywords
    • Mennonite history,
    • Russian Mennonites,
    • Historical letters,
    • Family legacy,
    • Molotschna Mennonite Colony,
    • Soviet Russia,
    • Mennonites Russia to Canada

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Letters From Home
The Elizabeth and Heinrich Thiessen Story
by Sandra Froese Callahan

War, revolution, and the consolidation of Soviet power during the 1920s prompted 21,000 Mennonites to leave the Soviet Union for Canada. Among them were Isaac and John Thiessen. Left behind was their beloved family: three siblings and parents, Elizabeth and Heinrich, who were tortured and starved under Stalin’s rule. Letters from Home provides a rare, intimate portrait of the Russian Mennonite experience during the Holodomor, documenting in detail this horrific and much-debated period of human history. Between 1925 and 1934, Elizabeth and Heinrich wrote letters from Molotschna Mennonite Colony in Russia to Isaac and his wife, Anna, in Leamington, Canada. Serendipitously, these letters were rescued from extinction by Anna, painstakingly transcribed by Marie Hildebrandt Huebert, and translated into English by grandson Otto Tiessen. They were then gathered into this vital historical manuscript by Otto’s wife Faye and by Sandra Froese Callahan, Elizabeth and Heinrich’s great-granddaughter. Beyond historical documentation, beyond politics, dogma, and deliberation, these letters profoundly express the private, heartbreaking realities of one family’s struggle to survive, characterized by familial love, religious faith, and the descent, day by day, into desperation and starvation.

Sandra Callahan is the great-granddaughter of Elizabeth and Heinrich Thiessen. She lives in Toronto with her spouse, Tom Callahan. She has three children and two grandchildren.


Sandra Froese Callahan
Otto Tiessen

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