On January 6, 2015, Siegfried Bartel smiled with content surrounded by his family and friends who celebrated his 100th Birthday.
Born in a time when the US House of Representatives was denying women the vote, neon tubes were patented and the first coast-to-coast long distance call was made, Siegfried has lived through the incredible and rapid changes of the 20th and 21st centuries. World War 1 had just begun to rage across Europe when Siegfried’s mother prayed a prayer of blessing upon her unborn child.
Growing up in Prussia (Poland) in a Mennonite community, Siegfried enjoyed a privileged life earned by the hard labour of his farming family. As a young boy, he watched his father extend grace to a man whose drunken negligence caused a train accident that took the lives of his mother and oldest brother.
It was natural for a man of German descent to enlist in the German Army and Siegfried did so in 1937 before the second world war. When the war erupted in September of 1939, he found himself in an army that eventually brought horrors to others and convinced Siegfried that pacifism was the only sane response to killing and war.
During the war, Siegfried married Erna and started a family. Seven boys were born into his family as Siegfried went back to farming to earn a living. In 1951, he received refugee help through Mennonite Central Committee to re-establish his life in Canada becoming a dairy farmer in Agassiz, BC. Siegfried became an active participant in the community as well as serving in leadership with MCC from 1972 – 1987, grateful for how he had received refugee help in his time of need.
Siegfried’s birthday celebration was a vibrant afternoon party with friends and residents from Menno Home joining in the festivities. Five sons, six daughter-in-laws, one grandson and one great-granddaughter and the staff of Menno Place celebrated as well. Siegfried’s older brother, Hans, age 103 came over from Primrose Gardens Apartments with his wife to celebrate his brother’s life and enjoy a delicious piece of home-made cake and some German music. Ingrid Schultz, chaplain, shared highlights of Siegfried’s life of faith and a prayer of blessing upon his life and the lives of those who love him.
Siegfried is the author of two books, Living with Conviction and Journey to Pacifism. In these books, he shares his life’s story and resulting convictions about pacifism and dedication to others in need.