By Elaine Enns
* This article appeared in Rock! Paper! Scissors! Tools for Anarchist + Christian Thought and Action (Vol I, No. 3). Check out the entire issue for more passionate and in depth writing like this.
Exactly one hundred years ago as I write, during Christmas 1918, in the community of Osterwick, Ukraine, my maternal grandmother Margreta survived a two-week home invasion—one episode in what one historian called “a continuous climate of violence, plundering, rape, mass killing and extensive bloodbaths” endured by Mennonites (and others) during the Russian Civil War from 1917-1921. The men of the house had fled into the forest while thirteen-year-old Margreta and her older sister and girl cousins had been hidden in the attic. My great-grandmother Anna fed and bandaged the wounds of rough, demanding peasant soldiers in the rooms below, trying to respond to violence with courage and hospitality. It is difficult to believe that she escaped sexual violation, as claimed by family stories passed down; my studies with descendants of other Mennonite women who experienced similar depredations suggests their stories were lost, silenced, or suppressed. Still, Anna’s non-violent actions may have warded off the worst. Some months later, for example, her sister and three relatives were brutally murdered in their basement, and Margreta would lose more family members and friends in the following years. So my grandmother experienced severe trauma yet also witnessed her mother’s profound trust in God and in her religious tradition of nonresistance.
Click HERE to read the rest of Elaine’s piece at Rock! Paper! Scissors!
Elaine Enns, DMin, a Canadian Mennonite, is an educator, writer, facilitator and trainer in conflict transformation. She focuses on how restorative justice applies to historical violations, including issues of intergenerational trauma and healing. Elaine has been working in the field of restorative justice since 1989. For the first 15 years of her career, she was part of the pioneering generation of contemporary restorative justice practitioners whose focus was on the Criminal Justice System. Elaine facilitated victim-offender dialogues, provided training and worked to apply restorative justice principles and theory to conflict issues in schools, communities and churches. Born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, she lives in Oak View, CA, where she is co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (www.bcm-net.org).