Remember Us: Letters from Stalin's
Gulag (1930-37): Volume One: The Regehr
Book review by Jon Fear
Siemens, Ruth Derksen. Remember Us: Letters from Stalin's Gulag (1930-37): Volume One: The Regehr Family. Pandora Press, Kitchener, Ontario, 2008.
Ruth Derksen Siemens reads from her new book
Remember Us: Letters from Stalin’s Gulag
during a book launch and film premiere last
Saturday at Bakerview Church. The event was
hosted by the Mennonite Historical Society of
BC and also featured the release of the film
Through the Red Gate: Voices from Stalin’s
Life under Joseph Stalin was a bleak experience for
Mennonites trapped in Russia. Those who were able
to escape to Canada occasionally received letters
that were somehow secreted out of their former homeland
by those who remained and continued to suffer.
Ruth Derksen Siemens, a University of British Columbia
professor and a first-generation Canadian of Russian
Mennonite descent, tells their story in her book Remember
Us: Letters from Stalin's Gulag (1930-37), produced
by Pandora Press of Kitchener.
Her book is a guide to translations of 131 letters
written in a Russia prison camp by nine-year-old Lena
Regehr, her older siblings and her parents, Jasch
and Maria Regehr.
Peter Bargen, a son of the recipients of those letters
in Carylyle, Sask., discovered them in a family member's
attic in Canada in 1989. In total, 463 letters were
found and in future volumes Derksen Siemens plans
to describe the stories told by other families who
were "caught in Stalin's snare."
The book and a documentary DVD that is called Through
The Red Gate. A portion of the profits will go to
the Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia
and to the Mennonite Archives in Winnipeg.
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael