© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated April 26, 2013)
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.
This fonds consists of a transcription of Rempel's war diary, autobiography, published and unpublished Low German stories and poems including a partial translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress .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.
Inventory File list available
Friends of Plautdietsch Scriptures fonds. Herman's brothers, George Rempel and Arthur Remple war time documents regarding conscientious objectors. Volume 5684 file.7.
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.
No restrictions to access
Tony Enns of Winnipeg and Roy Rempel of Morden.
Acc. No. 2010-083, 2013-040
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