ASSOCIATION OF MENNONITE BRETHREN CHURCHES OF UKRAINE
Colony’s creation history and the list of villages founded by Mennonites
Khortytsia colony stretched along Dniepr; for the most part, the villages were situated on the west shore of the river, across from the town of Alexandrovsk (now Zaporozhye). This was the first Mennonite colony, founded in Novorossiya of that time. The first group of settlers enumerated 228 mennonite families from Flanders and Friesland; they migrated from Danzig in Jule of 1789. Each family got 10 tithes of land.
The beginning of the mennonites’ new life was not simple. During sea-voyages, most of the belongings kept in baskets were stolen and replaced with stones. Other possessions were spoilt by dampness. The government did not fulfill its promises neither of financial aid, nor of providing wood for house construction; whereas most of the settlers were poor artisans who had never worked in agriculture, and those who had, quickly realized that dry soil requires a very different approach to farming. These first settlers founded their new households near the Great Oak, and this was how the development of Khortytsia village commenced. Some started to build houses on far-thrown sections, just as it had been done in Danzig. However, before long, the people realized how many advantages the safe community life has, and they migrated to villages. The first eight villages were founded in 1790.
Two new villages appeared in 1797 – Shenwise and Kronsharten. Descendants of Friesland founded them. These were the only villages in Khortytsia colony, situated on the east side of Dnepr. Shenwise was located slightly south of Alexandrovsk, and Kronsharten – north-west from other territory of Khortytsia. By the end of 1824, eight more villages were established, which culminated the evolvement of this colony. The municipal council (volost) was located in the village of Khortytsia. It performed the civil management of the colony.
Gradually, more reliable brick houses replaced the temporary ones. The first houses were simple and ascetic enough, but later on, Mennonites constructed buildings that were more luxurious. A typical peasant house was a brick building with several arch windows overlooking the main street.
A colony such as this would resemble outsiders to a typical German settlement. This was exactly how the baron August von Haxthausen described it while travelling Khortytsia:
“…Soon we reached… Rosental, belonging to the great German Mennonite commune in the area of Khortytsia. Everything around was so German that it made us feel as if we were in West Prussia, near Vistula. Not only the people, their manners, language, clothes, houses and furniture were German, but also every plate, every box and even the livestock and pets – a Pomeranian dog and Poodle, a cow, a goat and everything else. The colonists were even able to make environment somewhat German. If a painter drew the local landscapes, he could easily present them as German ones. The fields are divided and treated in the German manner, courtyards and pastures are surrounded by German fences. Everything is German: villages with their farmsteads, vegetable gardens, plants, vegetables, but most of all – the potatoes.” Despite the initial hardships, the settlements kept growing. The population increased twofold from 1820 to 1850, from 4000 to 8000 people. The main occupation primarily was sheep breeding, which was later replaced with grain cultivation. In the beginning of 20th c, 65 tithes of the land cost 14 000 rubles. Gradually, large factories and mills were being founded, whose owners built luxurious houses for themselves. Industrial buildings, too, looked daintily. By 1917, the size of Khortytsia colony grew from 33000 to 150000 tithes of land. Thanks to well-developed industry, it turned progressively into the riches and main Mennonite settlement in Russia.
Some time after the Civil war, the private land was collectivized, and the factories nationalized. The village of Noikhorst, destroyed during the Civil war, was rebuilt in 1927 a kilometer south from the old one. In 1928, a new village of Rosenbakh appeared two kilometers further to the south.
Khortytsky district became the center of ambitious plans of soviet government concerning upgrade of the manufacture and social life through the usage of water resources of Dniepr for producing energy. A gigantic Dnieper Hydroelectric Station was built between 1927 and 1932. This project had a large impact on the development of Khortytsia region. Hundreds of thousands of workers arrived here to construct the Station, including a number of Mennonites.
During the construction, many territories were flooded, including the Mennonite village of Ainlahe. At first, the object was called Днепрострой (Dneprostroi) (from Dniepr-building, which meant the construction works on facilities on Dniepr river), and after the works were over, the dam was called Днепрогэс (Dnieprohes) (from Dniepr-hydro-electric-station). Most of the Mennonites left the region. The rest left the region with German military troops in 1943.
The list of settlements in Khortytsia colony:
The village / also known as/ name of today
Ainlahe (1790) – Kichkas – Noi-Kichkas Kichkas
Blumenhart (1824) – Blumenpark-Kapustianka – doesn’t exist
Burwalde (1803) – Baburka - Baburka
Inzel Khortytsia (1790) – Kamp – the island of Khortytsia
Kronsweide (1790) – Vladimirovka – Vladimirovka
Kronsharten (1797) – Polovitsa – doesn’t exist
Kronstal’ (1809) – Dolinskoe - Dolinskoe
Nether Khortytsia (1803) – Lower Khortytsia - Lower Khortytsia
Noienburh (1790) - Malashevka - Malashevka
Noiendorf (1790) – Shirokaia - Shirokaia
Noienhorst (1824) – Ternovataia - Ternovataia
Нойостервик (1812) - Павловка - Долинское
Rosenhart (1824) – Rosenpark - Novoslobodka
Rosental (1790) – Kantserovka – Upper Khortytsia
Khortytsia (1790) – Khortytsia – Upper Khortytsia
Shenwise (1797) – Shenwise – Moscow part of Zaporozhye
Shoneberh (1816) – Smolianaia – Smoliane
Shenkhorst (1790) - Vodianaia Ruchaevka - Ainlohe