Readers write: November 7, 2016 issue

November 2, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 22

Philpott deserves better from us

Re: “Put not your trust in ‘princesses’ ” letter, Sept. 26, page 10.

I am irritated when the press and the public berate our government ministers for spending money on hotel rooms and taxis.

I have travelled for my work and, in my experience, it gets old very quickly. I have gone to cities for my work and never left the hotel where we had our meetings. I have been on flights where I tried to work on my laptop, only to have the person in front of me lean his seat back so I couldn’t work, not to mention having the person next to me snoop on my spreadsheets.

The press and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation went after Minister of Health Jane Philpott for the money she spent on taxis/limos to get around in Toronto. She is in charge of a federal ministry with a budget of nearly $4 billion and more than 10,000 employees. I don’t want her working on sensitive documents in coach class when she is on an airplane or in dirty old taxis.

I was also annoyed when former cabinet minister Bev Oda was condemned for the infamous $16 orange juice. I can remember after a day of travel arriving at a hotel late in the evening craving something more than just water, but with no convenience store in sight I drank a cola from the room’s bar fridge at a cost of $10. When work and meetings fill the day, saving money on orange juice isn’t exactly the primary focus.

I firmly believe that, as Christians and citizens, it is our duty to treat our elected government leaders with respect and dignity, and to give them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

Ernie Engbrecht, Lethbridge, Alta.


Ukrainian survivors rebut ‘Aryan’ claims

Re: “Becoming Aryan,” July 4, page 12.

As Second World War Mennonite refugees from Ukraine, we would like to offer more information on the dissertation outlined in Ben Goossen’s Viewpoint column. We find his research to be imbalanced, as it includes some historical facts and details but ignores other relevant information.

Yes, Mennonites in Ukraine made choices such as retreating with the German army and, for the most part, becoming German citizens from 1943 to 1944. The historical context of these decisions is, however, not included. The entire backdrop of a World War with opposing totalitarian regimes forcing survivalist decisions is not referenced.

The choices we made in Ukraine were not motivated by Aryan, National Socialist or racist theories, but, rather, were based on the Stalinist extermination of Mennonites from 1937 to 1940. This oppression and persecution was not unlike that which our religious group faced in earlier historic times.

Further, we confirm that we had not heard of Aryanism and other racial theories until well after the conclusion of the war. Many of us remember Litzmannstadt. We were X-rayed for tuberculosis purposes, but we cannot recall any blood work done there. It was a simple and relatively quick process.

Goossen’s research has been based upon previously written primary sources. However, oral history is central to the multifaceted complexities of any historic topic such as this. He does not cite any personal interviews conducted with those who actually lived through the upheaval in Ukraine when decisions were made.

Therefore, we would invite Mr. Goossen to travel to Leamington to hear our history and relevant facts.

Johanna Dyck, Leamington, Ont.
On behalf of Second World War Mennonite refugees and survivors.

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Thank you, Johanna Dyck, for your letter of rebuttal. My mom, a friend of yours for many years, told us of the years living under Stalin's rule in Russia. She told us her story of leaving Russia with the German Army. Before that event she told us that my Oma, her and her sisters watched as Russian soldiers took my Opa at gunpoint and put him into a wagon. They took him for his pacifist religious convictions as a Mennonite. They watched outside as the wagon pulled away. An arm thrust out of the barred window as Opa cried out goodbye over and over as they responded in kind until the wagon was out of sight. That was her last memory of her father, my Opa.
When given the opportunity to leave, because they were German-speaking people, with the German Army they gladly and fearfully took that opportunity and joined the Great Trek. Their motivation had absolutely nothing to do with being Aryan, nothing to do with socialism or racism. It had everything to do with escaping the tyranny of Stalinist Russia. They were not given "privileges." The Trek was a harrowing ordeal both from Russia to Poland and then from Poland to Germany. The documentary/drama "And When They Shall Ask" tells the story of the Trek quite well. Yes, Mr Goosen, come and hear the relevant stories from eye-witness accounts.

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