Mennonite
Historical
Society

of Alberta

Goerzen, David D., fonds, 10 cm, 5 cds, 18 photos

Accession 2020.006

Goerzen, David D., fonds, 10 cm., 5 cds, 18 photographs

Administrative/Biographical History

David D. Goerzen was born 17 September 1923 in the Mennonite village of Kalantarowka in the Caucaus region of the Soviet Union.  He was the eldest son of David Peter Goerzen and Susanna (Wiens) Goerzen, and married Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen.  The Goerzen family migrated from the Soviet Union to Canada in 1925 and lived for short periods of time in various places before settling on a farm on the Rosebud River betweem Crossfield and Acme, Alberta.

During World War II David Goerzen performed alternative serivice as a conscientious objector, both as a farm labourer and as a worked in the Banff and Jasper National Parks.  His service included working, “unawares” on what was called the Habbakuk project.  It involved construction of the largest prototype of Sir Winston Churchill’s secret “Ship of Ice” – a large, flat, insulated floating frozen block of ice, reinforced with sawdust as a binding agent. Such a mixture was vertually impervious to submarine attack or bombardment and was expected to serve as a landing and possible refueling field or spot for wartime trans-Atlantic flights.
After the war David Goerzen bought a half-section of land on the Rosebud River where he farmed until his retirement and move to Saskatoon in 1988.   David Goerzen died in Saskatoon on 24 March 2009.
A few years beforee his death David Goerzen was contacted by Eco-Nova Productions asking for and filming an interview focusing on his wartime service as a conscientious objector, and specifically his work on the Habbakuk project.  That led to further work, including filming of the sunken wreck in Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park of the great Habbakuk ice ship.

Custodial History

The fonds was donated to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta by Margeurite (Goezen) Jack, David and Margaret Goerzen’s daugher.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of two distinct sets of files.  First, there are files contining information and photographs pertaining to the Habbakuk project.  Second, there are files containing genealogical information about Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen family.

Source of acquisition

Donation by Marguerite (Goerzen) Jack, daughter of David and Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen.

Finding aid

Habbakuk files

1. Ecopress folder of documents, reports and correspondence from various sources, collected by David Goerzen. pertaining to the Habbakuk project.

2. Ecopoess folder of photographs and supporting information pertaining to the Habbakuk project and, collected by David Goerzen

3. Mixed folder of official government documents, correspondence and reports pertaining to the Habbakuk project.

4. four compact discs recording interviews with David Goerzen and filming of the sunken wreck of the Habbakuk project.

5 .Fourteen pictures taken while filming the sunken wreck of the Habbakuk project in 2006.

6. U-Haul use of Habbakuk information in the promotion of that company’s services.

Nachtigal family genealogical and family papers.

7. File containing genealogical information on various branches of the Nachtigal family.  Margaret Nachitgal,  b. 9 December 1929, daughter of Johann Nachtigall and Sara Baergen, was married to David Goerzen.

8. Nachtigal family – Russian official documents pertaining to their migration from the Soviet Union, in 1926.

9. Nachtigal family – Canadian official docuemnts pertaining mainly to citizenship matters.

10. Correspondence between Gerhard Baergen, Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen’s grandfather and his daughter Sara, Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen’s aunt, describing several of Gerhard’s trips, including searches for land.
The letters were written in German Gothic script, but some have been transcribed and translated.

11. Three Gerhard Baergen photographs: 1, Wedding photograph, 1902, of Gerhard Baergen and Margaretha (Baerg) Baergen; 2 Funeral, December 1912, of Margaretha (Baerg) Baergen with her husband and their six children.  The  youngest child, Sara, Married Johann Nachtigal .  They were the parents of Margaret (Nachtigal) Goerzen’s mother. 3. A later photograph of the Gerhard Baergen family.

Additional David Goerzen files.

12. File of short stories collected by David Goerzen, including a longer manuscript entitled “Stories from the Burns Ranch.”

13. Aerial photograph of the Goerzen farm, and clippings about the auction sale in 1988.