PHOTO OF ONE OF THE MENNONITE FAMILIES CONTEMPLATING A RETURN (photo from Reuters)
Many Mennonites fled Europe for the more welcoming atmosphere in Russia during the late 1780s. The persecution in Europe had become unbearable, while Russian promised to welcome the pacifist Mennonites. The welcome lasted about a century before the Russian government decided they could not continue to let the Mennonites avoid compulsory military service. So the Mennonites largely left the Ukraine beginning in the 1870s settling in the Plains of the United States and Canada. Others later left Canada and settled in Mexico where they have thrived. The Mennonites are in some ways victims of their own success, the communities are now so populous that available arable land south of the border is becoming scarce. So now almost 150 years after the Mennonites started leaving Russia in large numbers, some are interested in moving back, lured by cheap farmland and historical ties. Click here to read more.