© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated April 26, 2013)

  • Rempel, Herman, 1915-2008

    Retrieval numbers: Volume 5497 and 5684

    Title: Herman Rempel fonds
    Dates: 1943-1946, 1979-2009
    Extent: 11 cm of textual records
    Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives

    Historical note

    Herman Rempel: teacher, civil servant, social activist and Low German expert. Herman Rempel was born January 10, 1915 as the oldest child of Peter W. Rempel (1889-1974) and Maria Wiebe (1891-1978). Herman grew up in Edenburg, northeast of Gretna helping on the family farm and attending school. He attended the high school at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute where he graduated in 1936. He attended teachers training in Winnipeg and took summer classes at the University of Manitoba.

    Herman's first teaching position was in the Mennonite community of Kronsgart, northwest of Plum Coulee, Manitoba where he was in charge of 52 students in grades one to eight. He taught school from 1937 to 1943. On August 6, 1942 Herman married Helen Hamm (1916-2007) in the Morden Bergthaler Mennonite church. Together they had three children.

    In January 1943 Herman received the call to report for duty in the Second World War. Looking for some adventure and feeling uncertain about the conscientious objector option he joined the armed forces. He served as a signalman, a decision he later regretted.

    Herman went on to a career as a postal officer and the manager of the Canada Manpower Centre in Morden. He received the Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, having shown “more than ordinary diligence in the performance of official duties.” He was also active in several Mennonite churches and the cooperative and credit union movements. Herman was an active supporter of the New Democratic Party, running in the federal election in 1984 as the NDP candidate for Lisgar. He lost to the Progressive Conservative candidate Jack Murta.

    After retirement in 1979 Rempel became known as an amateur linguist, producing three editions of a Low German dictionary Kjenn Jie noch Plautdietsch? Rempel's system of writing Low German shows influences of the English language whereas some other Low German orthographies are patterned on German spellings. Rempel died at his home in Morden on October 11, 2008.

    Scope and content note

    This fonds consists of a transcription of Rempel's war diary, autobiography, published and unpublished Low German stories and poems including a partial translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress . The material captures Low German stories, prose, and proverbs and provides context for Rempel's life experience.

    Index terms

    Subject terms

  • Plautdietsch
  • Low German


  • Rempel, Herman, 1915-2008

    Adjunct descriptive data

    Finding aids

    Inventory File list available

    Related material in this repository

    Friends of Plautdietsch Scriptures fonds.  Herman's brothers, George Rempel and Arthur Remple war time documents regarding conscientious objectors.  Volume 5684 file.7.


    Custodial history

    In 1995 Herman Rempel sent a carton of Low German books and resources to Vernon Wiebe, Hillsboro, Kansas, who had started a small publishing business that wanted to prepare low German educational materials for the Old Colony Mennonites living in Mexico. Vernon Wiebe was informally coordinating a group which became known as "Friends of Low German Scriptures", which included Tony Enns, who had recently begun a position with Mennonite Central Committee Canada in the area of Kandier Concerns, dealing with concerns surrounding Mennonites living in Mexico who migrated there from Canada in the early 20th century. After Vernon Wiebe died in 1996, Tony became a coordinator of the Friends of Plautdietsch Scriptures, and acquired the Herman Rempel materials.  A second deposit of materials came from Rempel's nephew Roy Rempel who copied and compiled the writings of Herman Rempel for deposit.


    Mainly Low German, some English.


    Arranged and described by Alf Redekopp, December 10, 2010. updated by Conrad Stoesz April 26, 2013.

    Restrictions on access

    No restrictions to access

    Immediate source of acquisition

    Tony Enns of Winnipeg and Roy Rempel of Morden.

    Other notes

    Acc. No. 2010-083, 2013-040

    Volume 5497 (Acc. No. 2010-083)
    1. Memo: Herman Rempel, Morden to Vernon Wiebe, Hillsboro re. contents of carton containing Low German materials. – July 1995. [Note: The published works were transferred to the CMU Library, December 2010].
    2. De Piljareis / Herman Rempel. This is a partial translation of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, famous allegory in English literature from English to Plautdietsch. John Bunyan (1628-1688) originally wrote this story while in prison in England.
    3. Plautdietsche Spprejchwead onn Rädesoate / Herman Rempel
    4. [Untitled manuscript]. This typescript manuscript in Plautdietsch consists of 4 chapters and totals 29 pages. It begins “Daut wea em Joa 1829 opp en med-Somma Fastinjsdach donn saut doa en Maun…”
    5. Low German contributions published in the Mennonitische Post / compiled by Herman Rempel with the intent of editing and publishing them as a book. (
    6. De Schullenbott. A Low German play written by Unruh.
    7. Book: Waed Buiak: Low German to English Dictionary by Herman Rempel (1979). This book presumably was Herman’s personal copy and contains many annotations in the margins.
    8. Book: Kjenn jie noch Plautsdietsch? A Mennonite Low German Dictionary (Revised Edition) by Herman Rempel (1979, 1984). This book presumably was Herman’s personal copy and contains additional mimeographed pages fastened into the inside front cover.
  • Volume 5684 (Acc. No. 2013-040)


         1. 82 poems, stories, saying, proverbs and riddles. – 1981-1995.

         2. The Story of my Life and 16 poems, stories saying, proverbs and riddles. – 1990-2009.

         3. Openboarinj Fonn Johauniss (the biblical book of Revelation translated into low German), and six poems, stories, sayings. – 1992-2001.

         4. 14 articles on family and Mennonite history. – 1977.

         5. The War diary of Herman Rempel 1943-1946, edited by Melanie R. Bueckert. – 2009.

         6. Low German word lists, and 27 stories, sayings, poems, and riddles. -- 1985-2001