2. Different People
Catholic and Mennonite families lived side by side but not together. Mennonites were "Protestants" and the difference of religion was an unbridgeable gap. Mixed marriages were prohibited from each side. Moreover, the lack of knowledge about the Mennonite religion generated much misunderstanding. For most Catholic Poles, the Mennonites were lost souls consumed by heresy. Everything was subject to reprobation, in particular their practice of the holy sacraments, their refusal to honour the Saints and especially their lack of veneration for the Blessed Virgin Mary. For their part, the Mennonites had a despondent look upon the Catholic religion they considered archaic. From their perpective, obedience to a distant pontiff, omnipotent clergy, rituals in incomprehensible Latin, devotional practices, and many local traditions generated obscurantism and ignorance. However, the two communities showed a distant and mutual respect and there was no attempt to proselytise on either side.
The church of the wider Kazun Community was a "Gotteshaus" (House of the Lord) that looked like any other wooden house, with no particular external religious signs. This was a visual sacrilege for devout Catholics who took great pride in decorating all their churches and small family chapels (Kapliczka). Mennonite children were baptized in their teen’s years and such a late sacrament was a serious neglect for the Catholics. Mennonites families were buried in a separate graveyards. Their tombstones in Kazun and Secymin displayed mysterious letters and cabalistic signs. The Mennonite cemetery was considered as some kind of evil playground by elder locals who crossed themselves whenever passing by.
Catholic and Mennonite children did not attend the same schools. Before 1918, there was no compulsory schooling for Catholic children living in this part of Poland under the Russian rule. The few who went to Russian-speaking schools sometimes had to walk several kilometres. Most of young Mennonites enjoyed an early home schooling. As a result, they had excellent literacy and numeracy capacities. Their community school was organized in the church building and they were lucky to escape the Russian-speaking education system. Their teacher had reportedly high standards and strict discipline requirements.
Photo credit: Holland.org
Mennonites Deutsch Kazun
Mennonici Kazuń Niemiecki
Holendrzy - Olędrzy
This series is a reminiscence of the Mennonite Community in the Kazun-Secymin area with no historical pretentions. Mennonite People were Polish subjects and Polish citizens as any other members of the Polish population. However, for a better understanding, we use the words “Catholics”, “Poles” or “Polish farmers” to designate the native local population.
"Aules haft en Enj, bloss ne Worscht nijch.
Dee haft twee Enja".
Everything has an end, except a sausage.
It has two ends.