Biography of Dr. Hans P. Werner
Office: 3A41 Ashdown Hall
Phone: (204) 786-9352
Fax: (204) 774-4134
Executive Director, D.F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, Inc.
Hans Werner was born in Saskatchewan to immigrant parents who came to Canada after World War II. His family moved to Manitoba when he was still an infant settling in Steinbach where his father worked as an auto mechanic. Hans attended high school in Steinbach and at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna and completed an Engineering degree at the University of Manitoba. In 1972 he married Diana Suderman and after completing his degree joined her family on a potato and cattle farm in the Winkler area. Hans and Diana raised a family of three children while living in the West Reserve Mennonite village of Schanzenfeld. An awakened interest in history resulted in a return to academic studies and he completed a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree at the University of Winnipeg, a Master of Arts from the Joint Masters program of the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg and finally a Ph.D. in History in 2002.
Hans's dissertation examined the integration of Mennonite and other Protestant immigrants who came to Winnipeg, Canada from the Soviet Union via Germany in the 1950s and those who came to Bielefeld, Germany in the 1970s and 80s. Research for the dissertation included a number of trips to Germany. The pursuit of graduate studies was made possible by a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship and a German Canadian Studies Fellowship. The dissertation was recently awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award and is currently being reviewed for publication by McGill-Queen's University Press.
Hans has served as Interim Chair of German Canadian Studies and member of the History Department at the University of Winnipeg. He has been active in the Steinbach Village Museum Board and the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. Diana and Hans live in Winnipeg and are members of the Bethel Mennonite Church.
B.Sc. (Engineering) University of Manitoba
B.A. (Honours) University of Winnipeg
Ph.D. University of Manitoba
- Mennonite Immigrants: 1870s
The history of Russian Mennonite immigrants to Canada in the 1870s and their subsequent scattering in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Mexico, Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay.
- Canadian Immigration History
The story of Canada's immigrant peoples, particularly those who came during the Great Transformation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and those who came after World War II
- Comparative Migration History
The study of transnationalism and diasporic communities. People who maintain identities and connections, whether real or imagined to more than one nation state.
- The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 2013); available April 2013.
John Werner was a survivor. Born in the Soviet Union just after the Bolshevik Revolution, he was named Hans and grew up in a German-speaking Mennonite community in Siberia. As a young man in Stalinist Russia, he became Ivan and fought as a Red Army soldier in the Second World War. Captured by Germans, he was resettled in occupied Poland where he became Johann, was naturalized and drafted into Hitler’s German army where he served until captured and placed in an American POW camp. He was eventually released and then immigrated to Canada where he became John. The Constructed Mennonite is a unique account of a life shaped by Stalinism, Nazism, migration, famine, and war. It investigates the tenuous spaces where individual experiences inform and become public history; it studies the ways in which memory shapes identity, and reveals how context and audience shape autobiographical narratives.
- Living Between Worlds: A History of the City of Winkler,
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Books are available for purchase & pick-up at the:
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- “Peoplehoods of the Past: Mennonites and the
Ethnic Boundary,” Journal of Mennonite Studies 23
- “’Feeling at Home’: Soviet Mennonites
in Bielefeld, Germany, 1950-1990,” Journal of Mennonite
Studies 20 (2002): 155-178.
- “Sacred, Secular and Material: The Thought
of J.J. Siemens.” Journal of Mennonite Studies 17 (1999): 194-210.
- “‘Kinder, Küche, Kirche’: Re-creating Identities in Postwar Canada.” In A Chorus of Voices: German-Canadian Identities, eds. Angelika E. Sauer and Matthias Zimmer, 209-226. New York: Peter Lang, 1998.
- “Volksdeutsche, DP's, Germans: The Official Identity of Post War Ethnic German Immigrants.” in 1945 in Canada and Germany: Viewing the Past through the Present, Hans Braun and Wolfgang Kloss, eds., 23-26. Kiel: I&f Verlag, 1996.