Mennonite Passenger lists for Refugee Transport to Paraguay in 1930

Compiled by Ron Isaak

The Mennonites who left the Soviet Union in 1929 should probably be regarded as people whose journey began as emigrants but ended in a nightmare as refugees. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) raised about $100,000 (US) for their resettlement in South America. Ultimately 5,769 did find new homes in the following countries: Brazil - 2,533; Paraguay - 1,572; Canada - 1,344; Argentina - 6; Mexico - 4; USA - 4; Germany - 306. (from “Refugees” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopaedia Online:

Ship Lists have been located for 4 ships from the German refugee camp in Moelln that transported some 1,435 people to Paraguay. Reference materials and the discrepancy in total given above suggest that there was a 5th Transport but that list has not yet been located.

These ship lists are found in the Mennonite Central Committee Archives Collection (IX) (who have kindly granted permission to post the lists on the site). Within the MCC Collection, these lists are located in the Harold S. Bender files, in the section on Russian Relief and Paraguayan Immigration (Catalogue # IX-3-1). The four Paraguayan Transports lists are found in  Box 2, File 2 entitled "Transport Lists and Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1930". Harold S. Bender was personally involved in assisting this emigration, 1929-30, on behalf of Mennonite Central Committee. An inventory of the MCC files for this section is available upon request.

The columns are as follows:

Dorf: It appears that the refugee camp at Moelln was arranged in villages or “dorf’s” and passengers are listed as being from a particular refugee village.

Lfd #: The (original) list number for the individual arranged by village (dorf)

Transport Family Number: Each family has been given a number (not on originals). The first number indicates the Transport on which they sailed and the second number is the family number (i.e. 3.61 indicates family 61 who sailed on Transport 3). In some cases additional individuals are included with family units but the connection is not always obvious.

Heimat, Kries, Dorf, Post: These indicate the location in Imperial Russia from which the family originated. No changes have been made from the original hand written or typed Transport lists even where it appears to be in error.