Siegfried Bartel of Abbotsford celebrated his 100th birthday at Menno Home on Jan. 6 surrounded by his family and friends.
Born in a time when the U.S. 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.
The First World War had just begun to rage across Europe when Siegfried’s mother prayed for her unborn child.
Siegfried grew up in Prussia (now part of Poland) in a Mennonite community and 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 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 (MCC) to re-establish his life in Canada, becoming a dairy farmer in Agassiz.
Siegfried became an active participant in the community as well as serving in leadership with MCC from 1972 to 1987, grateful for how he had received refugee help in his time of need.
Siegfried’s birthday celebration at Menno Home was attended by five of his seven sons, six daughters-in-law, one grandson and one great-granddaughter, as well as the staff of Menno Place.
Siegfried’s older brother, Hans, 103, came over from Primrose Gardens Apartments with his wife to celebrate the occasion.
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.
Birthday wishes for Siegfried can be sent to Sharon.Simpson@MennoPlace.ca or added to the Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/MennoPlaceLife.