This was the final Mennonite monument that I designed. It is located in a park in the section of Zaporozhe known as Chortiza. This was the central location for the cultural lives of the Mennonites who lived in South Russia (now Ukraine) during the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. During the nineteen thirties, the Mennonites who remained in this part of the world were purged. The men, typically, were shot, and the women and children dispersed to far eastern parts of the Soviet Union. This monument has as its guiding image that of a mantle piece, with family pictures on it. In this case though, only the profiles remain. The people have been ‘disappeared’. This was the case for those unfortunate people who did not have a chance to be properly remembered.
This is the first monument that I designed for Ukraine. It is situated at a mass grave site where all of the inhabitants of the village of Eichenfeld were buried, after they had be killed during a one night massacre, in the period of anarchy that followed the Russian revolution. Because of the suddenness and unexpectedness of their death, and the absence of survivors, they were denied the dignity of a proper burial. My guiding image for this monument is that of a coffin set out for viewing, resting on short supports, tilted upwards at the head-end. It becomes the ‘viewing’ that these people should have had. One of the images includes the local stone workers who actually made the monument.
Most of the Mennonites who left the Molotschna region of South Russia left from this train station in Lichtenau. They left either voluntarily, ahead of the trouble that was to come, or involuntarily, for dispersal to the gulags. My father passed through here, as a young boy with his parents, on his way to Canada. I felt that a memorial bench would work well here, firstly because there was no outdoor seating and secondly, because travel inevitably involves waiting. It's a place to sit and remember the past.
The town of Molochansk was the administrative centre of the area known as the Molotschna, where most of the Dutch Mennonites lived while in Russia (Ukraine). These Mennonites accomplished many things, both administratively and culturally. This monument recognizes their achievements. The symbolism is that of a threshing stone (acknowledging their agrarian focus), here placed upright on a plinth.