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Faces of our German community

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Kurt Wagner

He was born in a farming community in Germany and left home at 14 to apprentice as a chef. He graduated in 1968 and cooked in merchant marine vessels for three years before being drafted by the German army and sent to Shilo. After completing his term of duty, he returned to Manitoba and opened Kurt’s Schnitzel House in Wawanesa. He sold that restaurant, moved to Winnipeg and opened the German restaurant Gasthaus Gutenberger, named for his grandmother’s maiden name. He recently sold the restaurant to his head chef.


Henry Neustaedter

He was born in Ukraine in 1911, and he came with his family to Canada in 1924.

He founded Neustaedter Construction Ltd., and began building houses and commercial buildings. He was president of the German Society of Winnipeg, helped found Camp Neustadt and was honoured with a community service award from the City of Winnipeg. He died in 2008.


Paul Kammerloch

He is a Manitoba lawyer and honorary German counsel in Manitoba. His parents were of German descent, from Southern Russia. They went to Germany after the Second World War and came to Canada a few years later. He became a lawyer in 1977. He has been president of the German Canadian Congress in Manitoba, the German Canadian Business and Professional Association of Manitoba and chairman for German Canadian Studies at the University of Winnipeg.


Kurt Wagner

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Kurt Wagner

Arnold Spohr

He was born in Saskatchewan and came to Winnipeg to dance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He danced from 1945 to 1954, and then became artistic director of the RWB from 1958 to 1988. He was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970, raised to a companion in 2003, and given the Order of Manitoba in 2000. He died in 2010.


Thomas Klonisch

He is professor and head of the University of Manitoba’s department of human anatomy and cell science.

He went to medical school at the Ruhr-University of Bochum and Justus-Liebig-University and received a PhD there. The German Anatomical Society certified him an anatomist in 1999. His research focuses on developing new therapies, including the use of stem cells, to fight cancer.


Arnold Spohr

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Arnold Spohr

Sabine Hombach-Klonisch

She is associate professor and section head of gross anatomy at the University of Manitoba’s department of human anatomy and cell science. She attended medical school at Justus-Liebig-University where she received her PhD in internal medicine. Her cancer research is looking into ways of fighting thyroid, endometrial and breast cancers.


Ralph Stern

He is a dean of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of architecture. He was educated in both Germany and the United States and has held professional licences in both countries. He taught at the Technical University Berlin and the University of the Arts Berlin. He is interested in modern theories of architecture in landscape and urban representation and co-authored Urbanizing the Mojave Desert: Las Vegas.


Henry Rattai

He was born in St. Ouens in 1932. He started doing carpentry on the family farm and continued as a journeyman carpenter, finally founding Kraft Construction. During the next four decades, his company built schools, bridges and buildings across Western Canada. He was on the board of the Winnipeg Construction Association for 15 years. He died in 2004.


Sabine Hombach-Klonisch

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Sabine Hombach-Klonisch

Klaus Wrogemann

He is professor and associate head of the University of Manitoba’s biochemistry and medical genetics department. He received his medical degree at the University of Marburg in Germany and a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Manitoba in 1969. His research has focused on muscular dystrophies, searching for the cause both before and after DNA’s use.

His laboratory has found two genes for a type of muscular dystrophy prevalent in the Hutterite population.


Herman Grauer

He came to Manitoba from Germany in 1987. His Nature’s Farm began producing eggs for the retail market, but then switched to mostly using them to make Nature’s Farm premium pasta. Recently, he has been selling organic, free-range Omega 3 eggs at farmers markets during summers.


Klaus Wrogemann

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Klaus Wrogemann

Simone Mahrenholz

She is an associate professor in philosophy and esthetics at the University of Manitoba. She received her PhD in habilitation in Berlin and came to the U of M last year from the Berlin Technical University. Her research specializes in how artworks contribute to cognition or understanding.


Victor Mager

He was born in Lorraine while it was part of France in 1849 and came to the Red River area in 1859 with his family.

With his father, they built a sawmill and gristmill where St. Boniface General Hospital is today. He served in the Métis corps and was there when Thomas Scott was executed. He later was elected reeve of the RM of St. Vital, serving for 12 years, and was at the founding meeting of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities in Brandon in 1905. He died in 1930. Mager Drive and Victor Mager School are named after him.


Bernd Laengin

He was born in Germany in 1941 and went to Africa to become editor of a German-language newspaper. He came to Winnipeg where he was editor of the Courier Nordwesten, later Kanada Kurier, as well as editor of Globus. He wrote more than two dozen books and was honoured with the Friedrich-List-Preis des Landes Baden-Wurttemberg for journalistic achievement in foreign countries. He died in 2008.


Simone Mahrenholz

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Simone Mahrenholz

Frederick Philip Grove

He was born Felix Paul Greve in Prussia in 1871. He published a few books there before being convicted of fraud and put in jail in 1903. He went to Sweden after he was released and then Canada, ending up a school teacher in Manitoba where he changed his name to Grove. He was principal of Winkler Intermediate School and Gladstone School, before teaching at Ferguson School. While in that area, he wrote novels including Over Prairie Trails and The Turn of the Year. He wrote Settlers of the Marsh in 1925. His autobiography, In Search of Myself, won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1947. He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Manitoba in 1946. He died in 1948.


Hugo Carstens

He was born in Germany in 1866 and came to Winnipeg in 1884. He encouraged immigration while working in the land office department of the Manitoba and Northwestern Railway and Colonization Company. He was Imperial German Consul for the Prairie provinces. He was president and manager of the Germanlanguage weekly Der Nordwesten, the largest foreign-language paper in Canada at one time. He died in 1941.


William Hespeler

He was born in Germany in 1830 and came to Canada when he was 19 to join his brother’s business. During a trip to Germany, he found out a large number of Mennonites was preparing to move to the United States. So after contacting the Canadian government, he convinced many of them to settle in Manitoba. He was elected to Winnipeg city council in 1876 and 1878. He was appointed German consul for Manitoba until 1909. He was elected an MLA in 1889 and was the first foreign-born citizen in the British Empire to be appointed Speaker. He organized Der Nordwesten, a German-language weekly, the first German-language newspaper in the northwest, in 1880. He died in 1921. Hespeler Avenue is named for him.


Jorg Stetefeld

He is Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology at the University of Manitoba. He studies the proteins that surround cells with the hope his discoveries can be used to develop treatments for disease. He has successfully crystallized netrin, a protein, which could aid in understanding and treating certain neurological disorders.

His research has also discovered why venom from the Malaysian pit viper only has a two per cent mortality rate, but has a high rate of leaving victims with amputated or dysfunctional limbs.


Henry Eric Bergman

He was born in Germany in 1893 and came to Canada in 1913. He was a wood engraver for the Eaton’s catalogue while working at Brigden’s Ltd. He created art with pencils, watercolours and oils, but he was best known for blackand- white wood engravings. His work hangs in several galleries, including the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada. He served as president of the Manitoba Society of Artists. He died in 1958.


Hans Peter Langes

He was an architect. He was born in Germany in 1925 and came to Canada after graduating as an architect. He worked with an architectural firm before founding his own, Peter Langes and Associates. He was responsible for the design of several schools and buildings in the province, as well as the Witch’s Hut in Kildonan Park. He was honoured with a Preservation Award from Heritage Winnipeg for his work on the restoration of the Winnipeg Law Courts. He died in 2008.


Stephan Jaeger

He is the graduate chair of German and Slavic Studies and associate professor of German Studies at the University of Manitoba. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in German literature, culture and language. He received his PhD at the University of Bielefeld in Germany and has taught there as well as at the University of Szczecin in Poland and the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is currently working on a book analyzing the historical representations of the Second World War from German, British and Canadian perspectives.


Alexandra Heberger

She is an associate professor in the University of Manitoba’s German and Slavic department. She earned MAs in political science, German, English and linguistics at the Universitat Mannheim in Germany and her PhD and two MA degrees at the University of Waterloo. She has published books looking at literary representations of Nazism. She is also a co-ordinator of work-abroad programs and summer schools in Germany. She is a bodybuilder who places in provincial competition.


— sources: Manitoba Historical Society, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg Free Press archives.

— Compiled by Kevin Rollason


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