John Werner was a survivor. Born in the Soviet Union just after the Bolshevik Revolution, he was named Hans and grew up in a German-speaking Mennonite community in Siberia. As a young man in Stalinist Russia, he became Ivan and fought as a Red Army soldier in the Second World War. Captured by Germans, he was resettled in occupied Poland where he became Johann, was naturalized and drafted into Hitler s German army where he served until captured and placed in an American POW camp. He was eventually released and then immigrated to Canada where he became John. " The Constructed Mennonite "is a unique account of a life shaped by Stalinism, Nazism, migration, famine, and war. It investigates the tenuous spaces where individual experiences inform and become public history; it studies the ways in which memory shapes identity, and reveals how context and audience shape autobiographical narratives. "
The Constructed Mennonite
University of Manitoba Press
History, Memory, and the Second World War
Mind, Body & Spirit