Diary of Anna Baerg: 1916 - 1924
ed. Gerald Peters, CMU Press, 1985.
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I don’t know many people who are open about what they write in their diary or journal. What is written is usually very personal and a tool for self reflection. To get a glimpse into any diary is a window into someone’s most personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. And so, it is a pleasure when this kind of opportunity if offered up to us - to get a glimpse into the personal life of a Mennonite girl who lived through the Russian Revolution and emigrated to Canada in the early 20th century.
When reading this diary, one is brought into the daily experience of Anna Baerg. She lived in the Moloschna Mennonite Colony in Russia and writes of her experience as the Russian Revolution began. She continues writing as they move to Anexanderkrone and eventually to Canada.
I was drawn into Anna’s many different experiences. Some entries deal with the mundane parts of life, but many of her memories are powerful, moving and shocking. She experienced a lot of pain, fear, death, and disappointment. Through it all, Anna’s Mennonite faith was unwavering. To hear of her faith through her hardship and relocation gave me hope in my own journey.
For anyone studying Mennonite history in School, this gives a significant personal touch to the lives and experiences we read about in textbooks.
“And whether or not they are, as you say, ‘stupid Russians,’ Anna Baerg, you have no right to hate them. They are people too, and as such, God has placed them all without exception on the same level as you.” (Dec. 22, 1927, p.7)
“In the last bloodbath we lost twenty-four men. What sad news for those personal affected. May God comfort them, and may we think of them too, for it is a loss that affects us all.” (Feb. 9, 1919, p.35)
“We wander, we wander
From one place to another
And barely do we stop and stay
Fate drives us and our loves away.” (p.75)
“The first Sunday in our new place. I don’t say ‘in our new home.’ We aren't at home anywhere. Hardly have we set down roots when we are displaced again.” (Sept. 16, 1923, p.115)