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The Schoenbrunn Chronicles


The exhausted band of Mennonite refugees arriving in the "green hell" of western Paraguay in 1930 could not help but be dismayed. It seemed they had barely escaped the horrors of Stalin's gulag only to perish, after all, in the arid wilderness of the Chaco. Fortunately, the faith and determination that took these Dutch-German settlers to Russia more than a century earlier had remained strong. The pioneering instinct had become part of their collective identity. Surrounded by the strange, unfamiliar landscape of the Chaco, the newcomers somehow found within themselves the resources to survive.

This book of stories and experiences, written by the residents of a village planted on the very edge of civilization, was compiled to mark the 75th anniversary of the settlement. Heartfelt accounts, chronicling both humourous and tragic experiences, give insight into the multi-faceted life of the settlers. Readers will relate to the joys and sorrows of the past and follow the development of the village.

This, then, is the story of those families who settled in the village of Schoenbrunn, No. 8, in the Mennonite Colony of Fernheim, Paraguay.