Arkadak and Zentral were latecomers in the large family of Mennonite settlements established in the Russian Empire since 1789. Their founding in 1908-1910 involved them almost immediately in the cataclysm which would engulf Russia from the First World War, the ensuing Revolutions of 1917 and the drastic overturns that followed, right up to the 1940s, when the traditional Mennonite settlements of European Russia were destroyed and the inhabitants who survived relocated en masse to “special” settlements and labour camps in northern and eastern Russian regions.
Details of how these two settlements in particular fared during these years have been awaiting the prodigious labour of this volume. No earlier studies of single settlements in the larger Russian Mennonite community have attempted so seriously to discover the fate of individuals and families and depict[ed] their life together in the brief decades of their existence before the total scattering which befell them in 1941.
This story brings the actual names, dates and personal accounts of numerous individuals and families, whose lives were chained to the seemingly uncontrollable historical forces which swept over the entire Soviet nation under the brutal rule of Lenin and Stalin in the first half of the twentieth century.
–Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein