5 Questions with Mennonite History Blogger Ed Wall

From his home in Nelson B.C., Ed Wall writes a blog entitled Gerhard’s Journey, which tells two stories: one is basically a judgier history of the Mennonites than we are used to seeing, and the other follows his dad’s life from southern Ukraine to the Gulag to Nazi Germany and to Canada. To read more, visit https://gerhardsjourney.com/

1) Who is Gerhard?

Gerhard was my father, who survived a lot of difficult times, more than his fair share, and came out the other side a relatively normal, gentle man.

2) What made you start this blog?

This blog is mostly for my family, my brothers and sisters and my extended family. It’s amazing how quickly our histories get lost and I felt a blog would be the quickest and cheapest (I guess I still have some Mennonite blood after all) method of disseminating the story to the people who might be the most interested. We’re always being warned how permanent things are on the internet, so there it is.

3) Can you give us an overview of what your blog is about?

I wanted to tell Gerhard’s story and get closer to the reality of it, to capture the context of the time. But in order to do that I had to cope with what is a Mennonite, what is their story and how does it relate to Gerhard. My family includes people from various cultural backgrounds so it was obvious I’d have to go back 500 years. So it’s Gerhard and the Mennonites on parallel paths.

4) What’s one of the most shocking things you’ve uncovered in your research?

There was so much I was unaware of, I was shocked frequently. The cruelty of Russian Mennonites to their own people and their Russian and Ukrainian neighbours is just a start. Their willing participation in wars. Their collaboration with and perpetration of the Holocaust. The MCC “rescuing” unqualified Mennonites. Canadian Mennonites as Nazi enthusiasts. I’m still shocked.

5) Have any of your posts generated pushback from your readers?

Here’s the surprise. I’ve had nothing but encouragement from readers so far. I think many people are hearing about bad Mennonites for the first time in their lives, and they want to know more. Of course pushback is also welcome.