Johann Peter Klassen (May 27, 1868 - May 25, 1947) was a Russian Mennonite poet and writer who emigrated to Canada in 1923, but wrote primarily in the German language|.
Klassen, a leading elder and writer of the Russian and Canadian Mennonites, was born May 27, 1868 (O.S. May 15) in Neu-Schönwiese near Alexandrovsk (Zaporizhia), Ukraine (then part of Russia). He was the 3rd of 4 children of Peter Abram Klassen (22 October 1825 - 13 February 1905) and Aganetha (Schultz) Klassen (1 April 1832 - 7 December 1920). His father had 4 children from his first marriage to Anna Janzen (1828-1863.
After completing the Chortitza Zentralschule, Johann Klassen served as village schoolteacher for five years. He served the Kronsweide Mennonite congregation as preacher from 1904 and as elder from 1907 until his immigration to Canada in 1923, though he lived in Schonwiese.
Johann married Katharina Wieler (February 26, 1870, Nikolaifeld Yazykovo, South Russia - August 31, 1909, Neu Schönwiese, Chortitza Settlement, South Russia) on 27 September 1891 in Franzfeld, Yazykovo, South Russia. She was the daughter of Abraham Wieler (January 23, 1841 - January 31, 1907) and Helena (Lepp) Wieler (January 14, 1848 - May 29, 1911). Johann and Katharina had 8 children: Peter, Helena, Aganeta, Abram, Johann, Käthe, Heinrich, and Kornelius.
After Katharina's death, Johann remarried on May 8, 1911, in Chortitza Settlement to Katharina Dyck (died December 21, 1953, Winnipeg, Manitoba). Johann and his 2nd wife Katharina had 2 sons, Victor and Eduard.
In 1928 he founded the Schonwiese (First Mennonite) church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, serving as its elder until his retirement in 1939.
Johann died in Vancouver, British Columbia on 25 May 1947/ He is buried in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Klassen was a prolific writer, chiefly of poems. Mennonite author J.H. Janzen called him "the most productive and most natural of [the Russo-Canadian Mennonite] poets," adding that "he writes mostly for existing melodies, so his poems at the moment they appear are already songs .... An inexhaustible and unconquerable joy speaks out of all his poems..., even though he has suffered much from an infirmity."
- Dunkle Tage. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House ; Winnipeg, MB: Rundschau Publishing House, 1923.
- Krümlein. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House / Winnipeg, MB: Rundschau Publishing House, [1927?]
- Wegeblumen. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House / Winnipeg, MB: Rundschau Publishing House, [1927?]
- Brocken. Winnipeg, MB: privately published, 1932.
- Aehrenlese. Winnipeg, MB: Druck von G.A. Giesbrecht, [194-?].
- Meine Garbe. Vancouver: privately published, [1946?]
- Roggenbrot. Vancouver: privately published, 1946.
- Nohoaksel. Yarrow, BC: Columbia Press, 1946.
- Der Zwillingsbruder von "Meine Garbe". Yarrow, BC: Columbia Press, 1946.
- Reiseskizzen über die Auswanderung im Jahre 1923 (memoir). Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House / Winnipeg, MB: Rundschau Publishing House, 1924.
- Miska, John. Ethnic and Native Canadian Literature: A bibliography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.
- GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006.
- Janzen, Jacob H. "The Literature of the Russo-Canadian Mennonites." Mennonite Life 1 (January 1946): 23 f.
- Rempel, J. G. Fünfzig Jahre Konferenzbestrebungen 1902-1952. [Winnipeg?] : Konferenz der Mennoniten in Canada, : I, 183 f.
- Bender, Harold S. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Klassen, Johann Peter (1868-1947)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2007. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2008
- Klassen, Katherine Schellenberg and Johann Peter Klassen. Two Journeys of Faith. Windsor Ontario Canada: Cranberry Tree Press,2007.
- Klassen, Johann Peter (1868-1947) at the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
- Johann Peter Klassen Webcite
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