Inspection - Page 2

Why did they search Janzen's house?

In 1940, suspicion against Germans was at an all-time high. Germany's mighty armies had conquered most of Europe. Nightly, German planes bombed London, the British capital. Meanwhile, in Canada, the leaders of the pacifist churches worked to ensure that their young men would not have to go to war. Considering the desperate situation in Europe, the pacifist position was very unpopular.  

In Ontario, the Conference of Historic Peace Churches met regularly with government officials. The leader of the Mennonite church in Leamington, Rev. N.N. Driedger, was on a committee that required him to visit Ottawa frequently to negotiate for the peace churches. He wrote many letters to committee members, government officials, and Mennonites across Canada.

The post office in Leamington became suspicious when he began to receive so much mail. Who was writing him, they wondered? Was he a German spy?

Although Driedger was engaged in legal church activities, he decided to reroute his mail to Jacob Janzen's house for a while. Someone – no one knows who – called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the RCMP sent two officers to search Janzen's home.

Janzen had nothing to hide, but the visit shocked him nevertheless. The officers searched the house for anything that might show that Janzen wasn't completely loyal to Canada. Maybe they'd find some weapons, or a German flag, or a letter proving Janzen was spying for Germany. They searched through drawers and cupboards, closets and bookshelves, and found nothing. The one officer who could read German quickly saw that Janzen's books were almost entirely religious. 

Near the end of the visit, the men interviewed Janzen. Since they knew that he had suffered greatly in the Soviet Union under the communists, they asked him whether he wanted Germany to defeat the communists. Janzen was not fooled by this trick question. He said that because he was a Mennonite, he believed that war was wrong no matter who was fighting. He did not support either side. 

The officers were satisfied with Janzen's response. Janzen's possessions and his answers to their questions convinced the RCMP that he was sincere in his religious beliefs. They realized he was not a threat to Canada and never had been.  

Listen to Rev. Jacob Janzen tell his story.