Watch this video and marvel at the Grace that has been shared.
Dear CLWR family,
In March of 1946, representatives of North American Lutheran churches gathered in Ottawa to discuss a pressing challenge of the time: providing support for the millions of Europeans displaced by the Second World War. The outcome was the creation of Canadian Lutheran World Relief. Canadian Lutheran World Relief is now in its 75th year of service on behalf of Lutherans from coast to coast to coast. We are proud of CLWR’s long history of growth and adaptation as an organization. CLWR has continually adapted its efforts in response to shifting contexts, and especially to the voices of our partners. CLWR has always tried to exemplify the spirit of semper reformanda — always reforming — that has guided our faith tradition as Lutherans. Today, facing the prospect of a post-COVID world, we are united in our belief that we must not cease to learn, grow, and reform.
Inspired by God’s love for the world, CLWR challenges and responds to the injustices which cause human suffering and poverty. We are committed to working alongside our partners to build resilience through a continual shared learning approach. As an international relief and development agency of the Lutheran communicates, CLWR provides opportunities for Canadians to respond to national and international needs.
The need experienced by our global partners has never been greater or more urgent, and the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting those who already face hunger and poverty, with millions more being pushed into extreme poverty. In this context, particularly with ongoing restrictions, we are grateful for your continued support, compassion and generosity.
On September 26th, CLWR’s Board of Directors made the decision to transition We Care, CLWR’s long-standing and beloved commodity shipment program, with the intent that the shipping component of the program will be fully closed by the end of 2021. While many of us feel a deep, personal connection to this aspect of We Care, the decision was made with the unanimous support of everyone involved.
Despite some sadness in making this change, we are united in confidence that this decision affirms CLWR’s most deeply-held values, including responsible stewardship, shared learning and honouring the voices of those we are called to serve. We are encouraged and optimistic at the commitment everyone at CLWR has shown to being the most responsible and effective organization we can on behalf of you, the Lutherans in Canada.
While earlier in the program’s history, We Care filled a vital gap of needed items, in the world we now face, many of you have expressed growing concern about the climate impacts of shipping supplies from Canada, especially when they are available for purchase much closer to the regions where we work.
The We Care program, in its decades of operation, has provided comfort and care to tens of thousands of people. To the faithful people of Synod, an incredible community of faithful, loyal volunteers, pastors, lay leaders, youth groups, and Sunday schools: we are inspired by you. Your generosity has wrapped warm quilts around those who have lost their homes, put supplies in otherwise empty school classrooms, and given young mothers the very first set of clothing their new babies will ever wear.
You have made such a difference. You have our deep thanks. And we also want to say you are needed now — as much as ever.
As this work evolves, we will count on your continued partnership in the Synod, and we
pledge to continue in our commitment to do everything we can to be faithful and responsible partners in this ministry.
At least 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes in the last year. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment, and freedom of movement.
At a time when 1 per cent of the world’s population have fled their homes as a result of conflict or persecution, our work together in support of displaced people and refugees is more important than ever before (UNHCR Ottawa2021).
The deeply disturbing news about the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border has moved us to respond. Working with the ACT Alliance, CLWR has become engaged in a new endeavor to bring assistance to the injustices of so many fleeing Central America. CLWR would become the first Canadian Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) to work directly with the United Nations Refugee Agency, (UNHCR) to bring a vulnerable single mother with children to Canada from the US-Mexico border. We will need your assistance, generosity and engagement as we work to respond to the injustices at the border. Thank you for all the care and love you have shown newcomers to Canada. Your ability to welcome strangers continues to inspire us. Thank-you.
In the Palestinian Territories, unemployment is a main cause of poverty. Women have even fewer opportunities than men to find employment, which exacerbates existing economic and social barriers, compounding the challenges they already face. For women with disabilities, the situation is even more difficult.
To address these challenges, Gender-Responsive and Inclusive Technical and Vocational Education and Training (GRIT) is a new project from Canadian Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran World Federation that provides women in Palestinian Territories better access to technical and vocational training programs suited to their specific needs, so they can secure jobs and gain financial independence.
GRIT is a six-year (2019-2025), 10 million dollar project funded by Global Affairs Canada, as part of the Government of Canada’s 400 million dollar investment in support of the G7 Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries, with contributions from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation.
CLWR has signed the Anti-Racism Framework of the international cooperation sector and to join the more than fifty Canadian agencies and organizations that have already done so. The framework aims at addressing systemic racism in the international cooperation sector – a sector that by its self-definition aims to contribute to building a better and fairer world. The framework urges us to address the sector’s legacy of racial bias, and to redress global interventions that have denied peoples and institutions from historically disadvantaged countries their right to self-determination in the name of economic and social progress.
As Lutherans, as people of faith, we are called to semper reformanda. We are delighted to celebrate with the Eastern Synod at your Synod convention. Thank-you Bishop Michael for your unwavering support. Thank-you to all Eastern Synod pastors, lay leaders and congregations for your faithful partnership.
We celebrate together, as it is only through partnership that CLWR has been able to celebrate a long history of growth, challenging and responding to injustice. Seventy-five years bringing hope, compassion, and love to so many in this world. Our deepest gratitude for your partnership, and we invite you into deepened engagement this year and look forward to the journey together.
Karin Achtelstetter, Executive Director
CLWR regularly communicates to constituent churches through Reports to the National and Synodical Bodies. These Reports are in the Minute Books of each gathering. CLWR Communicates it's own story through it's Annual Report and Website:
Canadian Lutheran World Relief was organized in 1946 to aid the people of war ravaged Europe. Active mainly in Germany and Austria, the organization distributed parcels of food, clothing and other necessities among the needy.
When in May , 1947, changes in Canadian immigration policy made it possible for Canadian relatives of refugees in Displaced Person camps in German or Austria to bring to Canada their families, the organization became primarily involved in immigration work. In co-operation with German Baptists, Mennonites and Catholics through the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees.
Canadian Lutheran World Relief helped to bring to Canada "Volksdeutsch" and other refugees in German D. P. Camps.
It extended loans to immigrants, advised them on conditions here and helped them find employment.
When in 1950 it became possible for "Reichsdeutsch" to emigrate to Canada, similar aid was extended to these.
By April, 1953, Canadian Lutheran World Relief, in co-operation with other church groups working through CCCRR had brought some 30,000 immigrants from Europe to Canada, most of them German speaking.
By 1967 Canadian Lutheran World Relief had assisted over 22, 000 Lutherans in coming to Canada and had extended 3,500,000 in loans to immigrants for fares.
The return to prosperity in Germany and Austria in the 1960's greatly curtailed the immigration work of Canadian Lutheran World Relief. Simultaneously, the organization's relief work greatly expanded.
It's Hong Kong work, which began in 1952, in 1969 assisted, among other things, of service to some 20,000 hot snacks daily to children.
In 1968 some 197,000 pounds of clothing were shipped to Arab refugees in the Middle East.
The agency became extensively involved in relief work in Indonesia and India.
Called into life by the desire to aid the people in the homelands from where many of Canada's Lutherans originated, Canadian Lutheran World Relief today serves the needy in all areas of the World.
The records microfilmed in 1982 do not include all files of Canadian Lutheran World Relief which are held by the Public Archives of Canada. Only those records were microfilmed of which Canadian Lutheran World Relief requested copies to meet their ongoing reference and operational requirements, namely:
Financial Records, 1946-1978
Account books listing receipts and disbursements of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, 1946-1960, and the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees, 1947-1961. Also included are lists of Canadian Lutheran World Relief Transportation Loans and Records of Repayment, 1951-1972. Canadian Lutheran World Relief personal files on loans and records of repayment (in alphabetical order by name of immigrant), 1949-1970, as well as other financial records documenting the work of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, 1947-1978, and the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees, 1947-1962.
Minutes and Reports, 1947-1970
Minutes and Reports of Canadian Lutheran World Relief Executive and Committee meetings, 1947-1955, 1963-1969, and of Annual meetings of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, 1948-1955, 1964, 1966-1970. Also included are minutes and reports of meetings of the National Committee for Canada, Lutheran World Federation, 1948-1955, 1957, 1959, 1962, 1965, and of meetings of the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees, 1947, 1948, 1951.
General Correspondence of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, 1946-1970, and of the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees, 1947, 1949-1959. Also included is correspondence by subject relating to the immigrant work of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, 1947-1961, as well as correspondence organized under the different relief projects carried out by Canadian Lutheran World Relief 1947-19709.6-1976
Library and Archives Canada will "pull" the originals of documents if requests are made in sufficient time to retrieve them from the vaults.
“Refugee Stories: The Immigration and Resettlement of Germans in Western Canada, 1947-1960” is a research project being undertaken by Kyle Jantzen, Professor of History, Ambrose University, along with Ambrose university students and members of various German-Canadian communities in Calgary and throughout Alberta. It combines scholarly research and oral history interviews to discover the history and memory of the emigration of ethnic Germans from various Eastern European countries—along with Germans from Germany—and their immigration to and resettlement in Canada during the fifteen years after the end of the Second World War.
“Refugee Stories” is supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) Alberta Synod, the Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) Alberta-BC Synod, and the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta, among others. It is funded in part by Canadian Lutheran World Relief, the University of Winnipeg’s Chair in German-Canadian Studies, and Ambrose University.
CANADIAN LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF – HISTORY
The “most active, best funded and well connected” relief organization dedicated to helping ethnic Germans immigrate to Canada after the Second World War was the Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). Between 1951 and 1957, it assisted some 18,500 refugees, almost all German Lutherans. This was more than all other Canadian relief agencies combined during this period—indeed, more than any other voluntary agency in the world between 1952 and 1954, accounting for 13 percent of Canada’s intact of German immigrants. These statistics make clear just how influential CLWR was on the postwar ethnic German immigration landscape. For this reason, no exploration into ethnic German immigration to Canada would be complete without examining this agency.
Founded on March 14, 1946, the CLWR’s “principal purpose was to address the urgent need to supply material relief to the occupied zones of Germany and Austria.” Its key leaders were President Dr. Rex Schneider, Executive Secretary Reverend Clifton L. Monk, and Treasurer T.O.F. Herzer. Monk guided the administration of the relief and resettlement operations, while Herzer was most active in the day-to-day leadership. As Monk explained, “long before the end of the war, Lutheran Churches on this continent were initiating major financial campaigns for needs already present and expected to increase drastically.” Astonishingly, he added that “in 1946 we were the only relief agency of Canada or the United States permitted to operate in the British Zone of Germany.” In other words, the responsibility of providing food and clothing for hundreds of thousands of Germans was in the hands of this fledgling Canadian organization. In a retrospective report about this work, Monk proudly recalled CLWR’s great success in collecting food and clothing and in raising funds. By May 28, 1947, CLWR had facilitated the shipment of 142,403 pounds of used clothing to war-ravaged Europe.
As early as 1947, however, CLWR leaders realized that aid was not a long-term solution and that efforts should be directed toward resettling ethnic Germans in Canada. As Lutheran churchman and scholar Norman Threinen noted, “the work of the CLWR … is what its first president called ‘helping the needy and homeless to find new homes and help themselves.’” Unfortunately, this task was complicated by the limitations of the International Refugee Organization (IRO), which was established in 1946 to assist refugees and Displaced Persons (DPs) and resettle those who “for valid reasons” could not return to their countries of origin. Most ethnic Germans “had no rights under the IRO. They were denied access to IRO camps. They could not leave Germany or cross an international boundary. They were not entitled to the same food rations of the eligible D.P.’s.” Nonetheless, thousands of these ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe (those the Hitler government referred to as Volksdeutsche) were eligible to immigrate to Canada. (German citizens, whom the Hitler government called Reichsdeutsche, were not eligible for immigration to Canada until later.) CLWR stepped in to fill this gap in service, enabling German refugees to be processed in Europe and then conveyed by ship to Canada.
This was a daunting task. In Herzer’s closing remarks at a September 26, 1947, CLWR meeting, he noted that after two long months of hard work only fifty refugee applications had been processed. This was, in his blunt assessment, “very depressing.” Christian civilization had never experienced such a catastrophe and that “the magnitude of the problem is likely to overwhelm us.” Despite this, Herzer kept his eyes on the mission and affirmed confidently: “You, and we, are their angels in carrying out this work and I am sure the good Lord will give us strength to carry out this work since the one hope which these hopeless ones have in the world to-day is you of C.L.W.R.” 
As CLWR Executive Secretary Monk remembered it later, “the real breakthrough in removing the roadblock to resettling German ethnic refugees … to Canada came at a meeting in Ottawa on June 23, 1947.” It was during this meeting that T.O.F. Herzer, CLWR’s first Treasurer, successfully petitioned for the creation of the Canadian Christian Council for Resettlement of Refugees (CCCRR), an ecumenical partnership of faith-based agencies, including CLWR, the Catholic Immigrant Aid Society, German Baptist Colonization and Immigration Society, Latvian Relief Fund of Canada, Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization, and the Sudetan Committee.
This organization would be dedicated to helping ethnic Germans get to Canada.
The three objectives of the CCCRR were:
1. To be an umbrella organization for the participating members in areas such as administration, finances and dealing with transportation companies.
2. To be the vehicle for negotiation with Government re immigration policy and procedures (including later discussions with the Department of Labour).
3. To operate a processing/staging camp in Germany.
Thus, it was through the larger organization, CCCRR, that smaller agencies were able to sponsor ethnic Germans who desired to relocate to Canada. “The CCCRR staff overseas invited the refugees to the processing camp to be prepared for presentation to the Canadian Security Officer, the Canadian doctor and the Canadian visa officer.
Admissibility to Canada depended on their decisions. Once that was established the CCCRR could proceed with transportation to Canada arrangements. The refugees invited to camp would be those nominated by relatives in Canada and those recommended for resettlement through the programs of the participating members of the CCCRR.” By the time CCCRR operations were terminated in 1961, the organization had facilitated the immigration of an astonishing 41,000 refugees to Canada.
One vital component of this success was a steamship received by Canada as a war reparation, then turned over to the CCCRR for its transportation use: the MS Beaverbrae. “In its service to CCCRR the Beaverbrae completed 52 voyages, carrying a total of 33,259 passengers.” Thus, many ethnic Germans who came to Canada after the Second World War did so on the Beaverbrae. Additionally, every time the Beaverbrae returned to Europe, it would do so full of the CCCRR’s material aid and relief supplies, giving the ship an effective dual-purpose.
The CLWR assistance to ethnic German refugees lasted from 1947 to 1960, during which time “a total of 20,845 Refugees and Displaced Persons had come to Canada because of the efforts, including travel loan assistance, of CLWR.” Initially these “immigration schemes” (as they were called) were limited to close relatives of German-Canadian families. As Herzer noted to his colleagues, these refugees were “primarily the concern of the Lutherans in Western Canada, because among them are our relatives.” Soon, though, efforts were expanded to other ethnic German refugees through diverse sponsorship programs. Chief among these were the various labour schemes, focused on importing manual labour, based on demand in the Canadian labour market, which varied from farming to mining. In fact, it was the success of the CLWR in executing these schemes that earned them their good reputation among Department of Immigration and Labour officials. As historian Ronald Schmalz explained:
Essential to the success of the CLWR’s resettlement program was its ability to place immigrants…. Because of its excellent record of placements, immigration authorities permitted the CLWR to forward workers and families without specific guarantees of employment. This concession greatly facilitated the flow of CLWR cases to Canada. In addition to pure placement work, the Lutheran network of churches, immigration and welfare agencies provided a host of other services to newcomers such a reception work at ports of entry and final destinations, welfare relief (especially during the tough winters of 1951-52 and 1953-54), counselling, loan and settlement investigations and employer-immigrant relations. These services gave the church programs an enviable reputation among prospective emigrants in Germany.
In other words, CLWR’s superior performance in facilitating ethnic German immigration to Canada afforded the agency more opportunities to bring even more individuals and families over. One prominent labour scheme brought German immigrants to Canada to work as labourers in the sugar beet harvests of southern Alberta. This program “provided ready-made employment and accommodation, with responsibility for placement and much of the cost of transportation borne by the Canadian Department of Labour. Thus, large groups of people could be moved under the sponsorship of CLWR with a minimum of cost.” Though this was advantageous to CLWR, Executive Director Monk expressed some concern in a meeting on September 14, 1948, noting that CLWR risked becoming a de facto “labour agency,” which was neither the intention or goal.
Despite the success of many of these initiatives, the days of the CLWR helping ethnic Germans immigrate to Canada were numbered. Late in the year 1954, the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Laval Fortier, held a meeting with various voluntary immigration agencies, such as the CLWR, at which he suggested that they should back away from the pre-selection of immigrants overseas and instead focus their resources on integration programs. Those in positions of authority among the CLWR knew their immigration program days were nearly over and so by “1956 the emphasis for CLWR had shifted entirely to the movement of relatives, dependents and nominated persons.” In 1959 “the right of Voluntary Agencies to agency-sponsor persons who wanted to come to Canada and who did not have relatives to apply for them was suspended,” and by the end of the year 1960, CLWR’s immigration operations had effectively ceased. Thus, the era of large-scale ethnic German immigration to Canada was over after thirteen long and successful years.
 Ronald E. Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada: Ottawa and the Postwar German Immigration Boom, 1951-57” (University of Ottawa, 2000), 206-07, http://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/9430.
 Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 206-07.
 Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 207.
 Clifton L. Monk, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief: A View from the Inside to October 31, 1961” (Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1990), 9.
 Ibid., 7.
 Ibid., 29.
 Norman J. Threinen, “Canadian Lutheran Response to the Challenges of Post-World War II Immigration” (St. Louis, 1978), 8.
 “International Refugee Organization,” International Organization 1, no. 1 (1947): 137. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2703532.
 Threinen, “Canadian Lutheran Response,” 4, 6.
 Threinen, “Canadian Lutheran Response,” 8.
 Public Archives Canada, “Mr. Herzer’s Closing Remarks at the C.L.W.R. Meeting,” September 25, 1947, fig. 510, MG 28V 120, Library and Archives Canada, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_h1390.
 Monk, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief,” 18-19; Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 206.
 Monk, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief,” 19.
 Ibid., 19-20.
 Ibid., 20. Part of the reason the CCCRR was given the Beaverbrae was the issue of conflict between ethnic groups on International Refugee Organization ships.
 Public Archives Canada, “Report of Executive Secretary to C.L.W.R. Executive Meeting,” September 14, 1948, fig. 531, MG 28V 120, Library and Archives Canada, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_h1390.
 Monk, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief,” 28.
 Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 207-08; CLWR, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief Fonds: H-1390,” fig. 508, Library and Archives Canada, accessed February 9, 2018, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_h1390.
 Threinen, “Canadian Lutheran Response,” 13; Norman J. Threinen, A Religious-Cultural Mosaic: A History of Lutherans in Canada (Vulcan, Alta: Today’s Reformation Press Incorporated, 2006), 141.
 Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 207-08; Public Archives Canada, “Minutes of Executive Meeting of Canadian Lutheran World Relief,” February 5, 1948, fig. 516, MG 28V 120, Library and Archives Canada, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_h1390.
 Schmalz, “Former Enemies Come to Canada,” 209–10.
 Threinen, “Canadian Lutheran Response,” 16.
 Public Archives Canada, “Report of Executive Secretary,” September 14, 1948, fig. 532, MG 28V 120, Library and Archives Canada, http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_h1390.
 Monk, “Canadian Lutheran World Relief,” 27. Monk claims that this suggestion was the result of pressure put upon the federal department by a “‘secular agency’” which had a problem with the concept of churches being involved in the selection process of immigrants.
 Ibid., 28.
Overview of the “Refugee Stories” project
Learn about the origins of the project, and the partners working together on this research.
History of postwar German immigration to Canada
Learn more about the background behind the wave of German refugees and immigrants who came to Canada in the 1940s and 1950s.
Hear the stories of postwar German refugees and immigrants. This is the heart of the “Refugee Stories” project.
See documents, artifacts, and photographs relating to German immigration to Canada in the 1940s and 1950s.
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This dissertation examines how German-American and German-Canadian Lutherans in St. Louis, Missouri, and Waterloo County, Ontario, constructed their ethnic identities from the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 to 1970. Did German Lutherans understand their ethnicity as an identity to overcome, or as an identity worth preserving? What role did religion and race play in how they constructed their ethnic identities?
It argues that German Lutherans in the Missouri and Canada Synods constructed a hybrid identity that sought to balance their competing ethnic, religious, racial, and national identities. It charts their experiences negotiating discrimination during the Second World War, their efforts to bring German immigrants to North America through lobbying for immigration policy changes, and their struggles to resist pressures to assimilate throughout the postwar period.
Contrary to popular assumptions, German Lutherans did not abandon their ethnic identities during the twentieth century, but rather continued to practice a German ethnic identity within the ethnic boundary zones of their churches. They continued to justify speaking German as a theological necessity, formed alliances with new German refugees and displaced persons to continue their ethnic traditions, and resisted exclusionary mainstream Anglo-Canadian and American nationalisms by advocating for a pluralistic understanding of their past through cultural and commemorative events.
By drawing on developments in critical race theory and whiteness studies, this dissertation argues that “whiteness” or a white racial identity is essential for understanding how German Lutherans constructed an ethnic identity. While it was controversial during and after the Second World War to openly identify as German, German Lutherans successfully mitigated these stigmas through their white privilege and ability to form political alliances with white government officials. Moreover, German Lutherans maintained an ethnic identity because they excluded other immigrants and racialized North Americans from attending their congregations by supporting Jim Crow segregation. By keeping their churches white, they were also able to keep their churches “German.” This study urges immigration historians to look more closely at how whiteness and ethnicity in the twentieth century reinforce, rather than replace, one another.
From Dr. Worsfold, "Andre Furlong, Julia Hendry, and Cindy Preece of Laurier Archives are already aware of my eternal gratitude for their tireless cooperation and hospitality over the years. This dissertation would have been a very different project without their help. Cindy’s constant support and advice turned vague references into full-fledged chapters that resulted in a stronger and more innovative dissertation. Words cannot describe how fortunate I was to share the joys, laughter, and frustrations of archival research with Julia, Cindy, and v Andre. This was truly a collaborative project with the Laurier Archives team. Mark Bliese, Laura Marrs, and their summer students at the Concordia Historical Institute also proved immensely helpful navigating records relating to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Their patience was greatly appreciated, as was their ability to make this Canadian feel at home in St. Louis."
Following the end of the Second World War, Canadians organized support to help European refugees and displaced persons escape poverty and obtain passage to Canada.1
Years of war left many Europeans, particularly in Germany, without food, shelter, or basic material possessions like clothes. Germany and other European countries faced such an extensive economic and humanitarian crisis after the war that it seemed unlikely they would ever recover without extensive international aid. Starting shortly after the war’s conclusion in 1945, Canada’s various ethnic and religious groups began to fundraise to send money overseas and help their coreligionists in the “motherland” recover from the devastation of war. German-Canadian Lutherans took a particular interest in assisting postwar refugees and displaced persons (DPs), as many of Europe’s most vulnerable happened to be ethnic Germans and other practitioners of the Lutheran faith.
German-Canadian Lutherans established the Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) in 1946 in an effort to send aid overseas and also facilitate DP migration to Canada. Their efforts proved successful. By 1960, organizations like the CLWR sent over seven million pounds of relief goods to Europe and helped over 20,000 DPs migrate to Canada.2
Historians have paid significant attention to how the CLWR and other Jewish and Mennonite organizations campaigned to admit refugees and DPs to Canada during the 1940s and 1950s.3
These histories, however, tend to focus on the relationship between DPs and their new Anglo-Canadian neighbours, rather than the established immigrant communities that helped them migrate to Canada. As a result, histories of postwar Canada tend to describe how AngloCanadians pressured newly arrived DPs to assimilate into mainstream Canadian culture. Historian Franca Iacovetta, for instance, emphasizes how middle class Anglo-Canadians sought to regulate aspects of immigrant life in postwar Canada. These Anglo-Canadian “gatekeepers” tried to integrate newcomers into a hegemonic Canadian culture based on British and middle class “respectable” values. Although the term “gatekeeper” typically refers to immigration officials and “those who determine admission requirements and regulations for a country or institution,” Iacovetta broadens this term as a useful shorthand to include the “wide array of reception, citizenship, and regulatory activities” that immigrants faced after they arrived in Canada. Gatekeepers monitored immigrant behavior, ranging from their parenting style, clothing, food, and mental and physical health, in an effort to coerce them to conform to Canadian cultural norms.4
Subsequent case studies on postwar German immigrants have thus far confirmed Iacovetta’s conclusions.5
Yet, these studies pay less attention to how DPs interacted with established German-Canadian communities.
This paper seeks to rectify this omission by focusing on how Waterloo County’s established German-Canadian Lutheran community interacted with a new generation of European DPs from 1945 to the 1960s. In particular, it examines the tensions and debates that emerged within Waterloo County’s German-Canadian Lutheran community as a result of the influx of DPs that entered their community and churches following the war. By examining the relationship between German-Canadian Lutherans and newly arrived DPs, this paper argues that a preoccupation with assimilation did not define the experiences of German DPs in postwar Waterloo County. Rather than acting as “gatekeepers” like Anglo-Canadians, prominent German-Canadian Lutheran leaders in Waterloo County drew upon their own ethnic heritage as Germans to create a welcoming environment for a new generation of immigrants in the region. They saw helping DPs migrate to Canada as both an ethnic and religious duty to help their fellow German Lutherans abroad.
Once DPs arrived in Canada, Lutheran churches functioned as spaces where DPs could continue to speak the German language and local pastors worked to ensure DPs were not treated as second-class citizens. In contrast to other Canadian communities, German DPs became incorporated into the region’s pre-existing German-Canadian community with little controversy. The strong bonds that formed between Waterloo County’s pre-existing German community and the recently arrived DPs moreover complicated Anglo-Canadian attempts to assimilate DPs.
Waterloo County’s minority Anglo-Canadian community operated as “gatekeepers” and encouraged DPs to assimilate into Canadian society. However, they ultimately failed at accomplishing this goal as Waterloo County’s German culture remained strong enough to prevent complete DP assimilation.
Waterloo County provides a particularly appropriate case study in which to explore the interactions between one established immigrant community and a new generation of immigrants. Unlike other central Canadian cities that had strong Anglo-Canadian elites governing local affairs, and unlike prairie cities in Western Canada that contained a mix of different immigrant communities, Waterloo County remains unique due to its historically large presence of German immigrants.6
The 1951 census, for instance, still showed Germans as the largest ethnic group in Kitchener, accounting for almost half the population. 7
Moreover, the community had the largest population of Lutherans in Ontario and a great deal of institutional support. The Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, established in 1911, trained a great number of the nation’s Lutheran pastors and the community moreover boasted some of the oldest Lutheran congregations in Canada, dating back to the 1860s and earlier.8
More importantly, although the area’s English and Scottish population carried a great deal of social and cultural currency, so too did the region’s German population. Members of Waterloo County’s German population included members of the local business, political, and religious elite. Although German immigrants may have had a minority status in other Canadian communities, Waterloo County remained unique in that German Canadians played an equally, if not greater, role in determining the community’s social and cultural life as their Anglo-Canadian neighbours. Historian Kathleen Neils Conzen refers to this phenomenon as the “localization of immigrant cultures.” Localization, Conzen argues, refers to – “the tendency of an immigrant-constructed culture to embed and reproduce itself…in the educational institutions, political and governmental organizations, businesses, media, and popular culture of the broader local community. Consequently, what are initially ethnic group values come to play a strong role in determining the local ‘rules of the game,’ in molding ‘the way we do things here,’ in shaping non-group as well as group life on the local level.”9
This paper demonstrates how the localization of German culture in Waterloo County helped cultivate a welcoming environment for German DPs by examining several different points of contact between German Canadians, Anglo-Canadian gatekeepers, and postwar DPs. First, it describes the efforts of Waterloo County’s German-Canadian population to help German DPs migrate to Canada and the reception they received upon their arrival. It then describes how Anglo-Canadian gatekeepers unsuccessfully tried to assimilate German DPs by weakening the German language. Finally, it compares the experiences of Lutheran congregations in Toronto and Waterloo County to demonstrate how German DPs outside of the Waterloo County core did not have the same experiences, or successes, in combating assimilation. By examining these different cases, this paper argues that the localization of German culture allowed German Canadians and DPs in postwar Waterloo County to thwart attempts to assimilate their community into mainstream Anglo-Canadian culture.
1 Although the terms “displaced person” and “refugee” refers to a specific legal category of persons, Canadians often used terms such as refugee, displaced person, and immigrant interchangeably. I have elected to use the term DP for the sake of consistency. For a discussion of these legal categories and how the DPs defined themselves, see Pascal Maeder, Forging a New Heimat: Expellees in Post-War West Germany and Canada (Göttigen: V&R unipress, 2011), 23.
2 Carl Raymond Cronmiller, A History of the Lutheran Church in Canada (Toronto: Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada, 1961), 240.
3 See for example Angelika E. Sauer, “A Matter of Domestic Policy?: Canadian Immigration Policy and the Admission of Germans, 1945-50,” Canadian Historical Review LXXIV, no. 2 (1993): 226-263; Marlene Epp, Women without Men: Mennonite Refugees of the Second World War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000); Adara Goldberg, Holocaust Survivors in Canada: Exclusion, Inclusion, Transformation, 1947-1955 (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015).
4 Franca Iacovetta, Gatekeepers: Reshaping Immigrant Lives in Cold War Canada (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2006), 11.
5 Hans Werner, Imagined Homes: Soviet German Immigrants in Two Cities (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2007); Alexander Freund, “Contesting the Meaning of Migration: German Women’s Immigration to Canada in the 1950s,” Canadian Ethnic Studies 41-42, no. 3/1 (2009-2010): 1-26.
6 Royden Loewen and Gerald Friesen, Immigrants in Prairie Cities: Ethnic Diversity in Twentieth-Century Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009).
7 John English and Kenneth McLaughlin, Kitchener: An Illustrated History (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1983), 246-247. 5 population of Lutherans in Ontario and a great deal of institutional support. The Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, established in 1911, trained a great number of the nation’s Lutheran pastors and the community moreover boasted some of the oldest Lutheran congregations in Canada, dating back to the 1860s and earlier.
8 Cronmiller, A History of the Lutheran Church in Canada, 213-219.
9 Kathleen Neils Conezen, “Mainstreams and Side Channels: The Localization of Immigrant Cultures,” Journal of American Ethnic History 11, no. 1 (1991): 6-7.
Prepared with an Edna Staebler Research Fellowship Grant for the Friends of Joseph Schneider Haus Museum
http://www.farsight.ca/news/23.html accessed June 15, 2021
70 years ago, on August 18, 1950, a young Daniel Schickedanz arrived in Toronto with just a suitcase and big dreams. Born in Lithuania in 1928, Daniel was a refugee of World War II in search of a new life. Under the auspices of Canada Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), Daniel travelled , from Bremen Germany to Toronto (via Quebec City), on board the MV Beaverbrae. The assistance of CLWR required a promissory note to pay back the fare. He worked to pay off his passage at a Mennonite dairy farm in Kitchener, Ontario. After 9 months, when he had completed his commitments, he moved to Toronto to join other family members already there.
Upon his arrival in Toronto, Daniel, together with his 3 cousins founded Schickedanz Brothers Limited, a company of builders and developers. Through passion, hard work, and determination during the 1950's and the ensuing decades, Schickedanz Brothers flourished. The company was instrumental in the creation of numerous neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Toronto and beyond, and the growth of the city was mirrored in the success and expansion of the company. As the last remaining founding partner of Schickedanz Brothers, he still works on a regular basis at the ripe age of 91.
While the success of the family business provided great opportunity, Daniel would say his greatest achievement is his family. Together with late wife, Anneliese, they raised 4 children, and were blessed with 11 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. For his family, and indeed all who know him, it is Daniel's faith, respect, work ethic, dedication, loyalty, and integrity, all in his quiet unassuming way, that has had the greatest influence on them.
In a commemoration of this 70th anniversary and the life-changing opportunity the assistance from Canada Lutheran World Relief made, Daniel is pleased to make a donation of $1 million to CLWR. It is in thanksgiving for this vital work of the church, and a way to "pay it forward". The ongoing work of CLWR continues to provide life altering assistance and opportunities to refugees around the world. Daniel's wish is that the funds go to where they can best support the current work of Canada Lutheran World Relief.
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Clarence M. Cherland, Canadian Lutheran World Relief and its Human Involvement, (Thesis). Dubuque: Wartburg Theological Seminary, 1964. Has an emphasis on the role of CLWR and its humanitarian and refugee services in the first 20 years of its existence.
Extraordinary Plenary Session 22 July 2003
At an “extraordinary plenary session,” delegates to the LWF Tenth Assembly indicated their intention to participate in a public demonstration on Tuesday, 29 July 2003, to protest the Canadian government’s failure to grant visas to fifty-one delegates and other Assembly participants.
1 Statements National Bishop Raymond L. Schultz, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada2
Our church is one of displaced people forced to flee their own countries because of war, poverty, and repressive governments: people who feared for the lives and future of those they loved. Many among our congregations have neither forgotten the life and death importance of a place of refuge and sanctuary nor their welcome in Canada. I myself am a first-generation Russian man born here. My parents and grandparents lived in an area of eastern Europe, now part of Ukraine, from where our own people were forced to flee. My parents came to North America with my grandparents as babies. The family settled in a homestead in Alberta, farmed with oxen, and blew up stumps in the ground with black powder to create enough soil to till in order to survive this country’s hard winters. That’s my own history. We were welcome in Canada. Each successive generation of immigrants found its place in this new country, and made its own contribution to building our diverse, multicultural and multifaith commu nity. Canadians have sought to create a community that would be a meeting place for the world’s nations, faiths and cultures that might offer the global family another path to follow for its future. When we were living in Edmonton, our son used to talk with us about one of his friends. We said, “Describe him to us,” to which he replied, “Well, he’s the best math student in our class.” He described many other aspects about him, and then one day his friend came over to our house. He was a Jamaican, the only dark-skinned person at their school. It had never occurred to our children that that might be distinctive. So I do realize this is a complex issue, and that the recent denial of visas is about much more than just exclusion of individuals from attendance at a meeting. For Canadians, it calls into question the very nature of how we, most of us as ordinary Canadians, want to be present in the world. I have received expressions from all across the country on this issue. We want to be a welcoming compassionate community that responsibly seeks justice within the community of nations. Until very recent times, this has been our legacy. We were proud of the leadership of this country that led us in that direction. On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, therefore, I want to express appreciation for your understanding of the profound disappointment and shame that we in the church feel over our government’s insensitivity and inaction toward what this Assembly symbolizes, and the implication of the exclusion of so many delegates from this gathering. I would like to accentuate the remarks of my brother and friend, Archbishop Michael Peers, who as we introduced ourselves yesterday evening said, our nation is fast becoming a very different place: one made unrecognizable by the turbulent forces that are reshaping our world and country. Ours is a world where money moves freely, but where people cannot. I appreciated as well what our General Secretary said, that this is a global problem, not just Canada’s, in a world which is locking people out. The new security agenda that relies on military force, seeking to keep people away from our islands of affluence, will not bring true human security. We know this; but our governments do not. This is a false god. Not what we pray for as a church when we pray that the world might be one. Our communion must say “no” to this false god of exclusion. Many have worked hard to address this problem—our church staff, the Geneva staff, many members of parliament in Canada, many in the media, most of the people of Canada, and many of you. I have received letters and e-mails, and read letters in the newspaper. A reader of the Winnipeg Free Press writes, “I don’t go to church but I don’t understand why the government is keeping this church from allowing its delegates to be here.” Through these words, I want to express our sincere apologies to all of you, and to those who cannot be here. There are some actions I suggest this Assembly can take. One is that we should not forget: we need to be reminded of the absent delegates among us. I have asked that the flags we use in the ELCIC to symbolize our mission partnerships at our own gatherings—unfortunately, we don’t have them for all the countries concerned, not for Ethiopia, India, Liberia or Cameroon— be placed in this hall as a visual aid to remind us of their presence in our family. I know many of you wanted to publicly express solidarity with those who were denied visas, and I am aware that some of you do not want to embarrass our church by any public display against the Canadian government. But I believe the people beyond this room, the members of our churches, citizens of this country and political leaders accountable for these matters do need to know these decisions are an affront to the Church, and more than that, to the dignity of all those who have been treated so badly. So I invite you to join with me in a solidarity vigil of remembrance, which we hope to hold outside the Federal Immigration offices in Winnipeg, next Tuesday afternoon. More details will be made available as we make arrangements. To remain silent would be a double injustice. Responsible citizenship requires that our voices be heard. Third and last, this sad experience reminds us that this is neither the kind of world we want, nor the kind of world God intends. The principalities and powers of globalization have created a world where capital moves freely but people cannot; and that seeks to tame the Church and discredit its gospel call for justice and peace. We will support efforts to make the Lutheran World Federation better able to understand and address the dynamics of globalization, and the advocacy required for that; and so we regret that our brothers and sisters cannot be here. You have no idea how much we regret that. But their absence reminds us of the crucial witness we all must make: for their experience is the experience of not only millions but probably a billion people every day, whose cry is never heard. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address you.
Presiding Bishop Mark S Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
If I were wise, I would simply say “Amen” to my colleague bishop, because that’s princi pally why I am here. I want to support him in calling us to remember that if we don’t acknowledge the complexity of this visa issue our response will lack integrity. But I am mostly here tonight to appeal to us to not singularly focus upon the Canadian government, because we must also acknowledge that the Government of the United States has led the way in responding to the horrific acts of violence in the world, first by exerting its military and economic power, most often punishing the victims of violence by closing its borders to all but the powerful. I believe it’s important for us, as delegates to this Assembly, to remember that this visa episode reminds us that we are a communion of the powerless but we are not a powerless communion. We have the power to act, and it’s my prayer, following and endorsing the suggestions of Bishop Schultz, that our public actions give clear witness to the promise of God, the presence of the risen Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit. So let us publicly engage in what we do in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, renouncing the forces of evil, the devil and the devil’s empty promises, but let not our renouncing of evil turn into what the Government of the United States has too often done, and that’s a denouncing of those in poverty, who are most often the victims of the violence of poverty rather than the perpetrators of violence. Let our public witness be one of interceding, standing before the throne of God’s grace in Christ, pleading on behalf of the whole creation for God’s mercy. Let our public act of witness be one of lamenting, lamenting a world that responds to horrific acts of violence by closing borders of nations rather than by resolve to build communities of justice and peace. Let our public act of witness be one of embodying the risen Christ, who is present in the poor, who welcomes the stranger, who accompanies the sojourner, and let our public witness be one of announcing good news to the poor, because if the gospel we announce at this Assembly is not heard as good news to the poor, then maybe it’s not the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let our public witness be one of announcing the in-breaking of God’s reign, for the healing of the nations, a reign that excludes no one. Thank you. Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan It is not easy for me to speak after Bishop Schultz and Bishop Hanson because many of the ideas that we have in Asia are similar to what they have presented. We are very thankful for their points of view; but not only thankful. We also want to say that our communion, with these statements, is consolidated and fuller than ever, with such prophetic attitudes from the national bishop from Canada and presiding bishop from the United States. It is very sensitive for us in the South, Asia, Africa or Latin America, when we are living under oppression, when we see that our resources, commodities, money and oil can move but human beings cannot. Thank God the communion of churches does not need a visa, and we don’t need a visa for a communion of churches. Our visa is our Lord Jesus Christ who gathers us in this house with all the Christians in the world. For this reason, by these acts that Bishop Schultz has asked of us, we as Asians will be the first to join in on Tuesday in a peaceful demonstration, to be with him, raise our voice and at the same time pray. It’s not enough to write statements; we make statements to ourselves. But when we show visible unity of communion in the streets of Winnipeg, that in itself is a statement of the communion. For this reason, we welcome this peaceful demonstration to protest against harassment of anybody in the world, especially for us people in the South. As the President said, it’s more bitter when these people come from poor countries, not only from countries in the North. At the same time, we have nine churches from India that cannot be present with us. We also have delegates from Indonesia and Africa—it’s not enough to say there is a quorum. We must find every means and way that these delegates who could not come, are represented or their voices heard in this Assembly, or even their vote given and cast, and not denied. If the world and governments deny us, the Church and communion should allow them, challenging the law and having the gospel. For this reason, I ask this house to think seriously of ways and means by which those delegates who cannot be here, could vote. Please, this matter is serious. I myself am stateless, although I call myself Palestinian. Many of my sisters and brothers in India, South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia, wherever you go…in Indonesia, are always denied a visa and we need to bring pressure to bear. I believe the time has come when our prophetic role will not only be to write statements, but act in order that our communion really will be a communion for mission, speaking against the violation of human rights and giving the Word of the Good News for our communion. Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, president, Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil The delegates from Latin America gathered informally during the past hour, and we also discussed the visa issue. After listening to the prophetic words of the national bishop of the church in Canada, and also of the presiding bishop of the church from the United States, as well as those of our brother Younan, the bishop from the Holy Land, I should also like to say that we, for our part, think that the suffering we are undergoing is a time for strengthening the bonds of communion, which we have as a Lutheran family. We were not aware of the proposal for a demonstration next Tuesday, but I am sure that everyone of us will want to participate in it with our heart and soul. There is also something else that we could perhaps contribute from our experience in Latin America. Under the military dictatorships, thousands of people in various countries of Latin America had disappeared. This was brought to attention by their relatives, mothers, grandmothers, and by social movements, when they marched in the streets carrying the names and pictures with the faces of people that had disappeared. Our brothers and sisters, who have not been able to attend this Assembly in Canada, are not in such a desperate situation, but have been refused visas because of the policies which gov ern our world at the present time. They are therefore unable to be with us in person. We believe it necessary to visualize their presence as much as possible during this event. Our suggestion is that the name of each person who is unable to be present, and their photos if possible, be put on placards to be placed here in this hall so that they will be present among us symbolically as we deliberate on the life and future of the Lutheran World Federation. Another idea that occurred to us is to put the name and photo of a person from Africa on one of the placards, and a photo of a person from Asia on another, where the banner with the logo of the Lutheran World Federation is placed. Next Tuesday, we can carry these names with us during the demonstration so that they can be among us at that time. This is a contribution we want to make from the experience suffered by the peoples of Latin America. Thank you. (Translated from Dr Altmann’s original Spanish text.)
1 On Tuesday, 29 July 2003, to protest the Canadian government’s refusal to grant visas to over fifty of their fellow delegates from developing nations, delegates and other participants in the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation walked in silent and solemn procession from the Winnipeg Convention Centre through the city’s streets to the Oodena Circle at “The Forks.” This junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers has been a “meeting place” for thousands of years to which Aboriginal peoples from across the North American plains and eastern forests came to trade, hunt, fish, and celebrate. The Assembly host church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, organized the procession.
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