Mennonites seek to come to terms with Nazi collaboration

Source: Religion News Service

FILADELFIA, Paraguay (RNS) Violence tore through this close-knit, traditionally pacifist community on the night of March 11, 1944. All the more remarkable, its perpetrators and victims were all Mennonites. And they all belonged to rival Nazi factions.

Since the end of the Second World War, Mennonite-Nazi collaboration has largely been ignored, forgotten or intentionally repressed. In Paraguay, members of Mennonite congregations were forbidden from discussing the matter.

In Paraguay and beyond, the Nazi episode has been taboo for adherents of this Christian denomination that was founded in 16th-century Europe on principles of nonviolence and nonparticipation in politics.

Not until the 1980s, when an international search for Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele brought unwanted attention to the German-speaking Mennonite colony of Fernheim in Paraguay’s remote Gran Chaco, did that taboo begin to weaken.

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