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Russian Mennonites {{#invoke:main|main}}

The "Russian Mennonites" (German: "Russlandmennoniten")<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> today are of German language, tradition and ethnicity. They are descents from Dutch Anabaptists, who came from the Netherland and started around 1530 to settle around Danzig and in West Prussia, where they lived for about 250 years. During that time they mixed with German Mennonites from different regions. Starting 1791 they established colonies in the south west of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). Their ethno-language is Plautdietsch, a German dialect of the East Low German group, with some Dutch admixture. Today the majority of traditional "Russian" Mennonites uses Standard German in church and for reading and writing. The term "Russian Mennonite" is considered by some to be a misnomer because their original ethnic ancestry and present day culture is not from Russia.

In 1768 Catherine the Great of Russia acquired a great deal of land north of the Black Sea (in present-day Ukraine) following a war with the Ottoman Empire and the takeover of their vassal, the Crimean Khanate. Russian government officials invited Mennonites living in Prussia to farm the Ukrainian steppes depopulated by Tatar raids in exchange for religious freedom and military exemption. Over the years the Mennonite farmers were very successful.

Between 1874 and 1880 some 16,000 Mennonites of approximately 45,000 left Russia. About nine thousand departed for the United States (mainly Kansas and Nebraska) and seven thousand for Canada (mainly Manitoba). In the 1920s Russian Mennonites from Canada started to migrate to Latin America (Mexico and Paraguay), soon followed by Mennonite refugees from the Soviet Union. Further migrations of these Mennonites led to settlements in Brasil, Uruguay, Belize, Bolivia and Argentina. Today the majority of "Russian" Mennonites live in Latin America

By the beginning of the 20th century, the Mennonites in Russia owned large agricultural estates and some had become successful as industrial entrepreneurs in the cities, employing wage labor. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War (1917–1921), all of these farms (whose owners were called Kulaks) and enterprises were expropriated by local peasants or the Soviet government. Beyond expropriation, Mennonites suffered severe persecution during the course of the Civil War, at the hands of workers, the Bolsheviks and, particularly, the communist-anarchists of Nestor Makhno, who considered the Mennonites to be privileged foreigners of the upper class and targeted them. During expropriation, hundreds of Mennonite men, women and children were murdered in these attacks.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> After the Ukrainian–Soviet War and the takeover of Ukraine by the Russian Bolsheviks, people who openly practiced religion were in many cases imprisoned by the Soviet government. This led to a wave of Mennonite emigration to the Americas (U.S., Canada and Paraguay).

When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 during World War II, many in the Mennonite community perceived them as liberators from the communist regime under which they had suffered. When the tide of war turned, many of the Mennonites fled with the German army back to Germany where they were accepted as Volksdeutsche. The Soviet government believed that the Mennonites had "collectively collaborated" with the Germans. After the war, many of the Mennonites in the Soviet Union were forcibly relocated to Siberia and Kazakhstan, and many were sent to gulags, as part of the Soviet program of mass internal deportations of various ethnic groups whose loyalty was seen as questionable. Many German-Russian Mennonites who lived to the east (not in Ukraine) were deported to Siberia before the German army's invasion, and were also often placed in labor camps. In the decades that followed, as the Soviet regime became less brutal, a number of Mennonites returned to Ukraine and Western Russia where they had formerly lived. In the 1990s the governments of Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine gave these people the opportunity to emigrate, and the vast majority emigrated to Germany. The Russian Mennonite immigrants in Germany from the 1990s outnumber the pre-1989 community of Mennonites by three to one.

By 2015 the majority of Russian Mennonites lives in Latin America, while ten thousands live in Germany and Canada.

The world's most conservative Mennonites (in terms of culture and technology) are the Mennonites affiliated with the Lower and Upper Barton Creek Colonies in Belize. Lower Barton is inhabited by Plautdietsch speaking Russian Mennonites, whereas Upper Barton Creek is mainly inhabited by Pennsylvania German speaking Mennonites from North America. Both groups do not use motors, paint, or compressed air.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


Mennonite sections
Intro  Radical Reformation  Fragmentation and variation  Russian Mennonites  Jakob Ammann and the Amish schisms  North America  Theology  Worship, doctrine, and tradition  Membership  See also  Notes  Further reading  External links  

Russian Mennonites
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