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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prussian Mennonites in the Third Reich and beyond : the uneasy synthesis of national and religious myths Schroeder, Steven Mark 2001

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PRUSSIAN M E N N O N I T E S IN T H E THIRD R E I C H A N D T H E U N E A S Y  SYNTHESIS  B E Y O N D :  OF N A T I O N A L A N D RELIGIOUS  M Y T H S  by  S T E V E N M A R K  S C H R O E D E R  B . A . , The University of Winnipeg, M . C . S . , Regent College,  A THESIS  1994  1998  S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T  T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S  FOR T H E D E G R E E  M A S T E R OF  OF  ARTS  in  T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E  STUDIES  (Department of History)  We  a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as  conforming  to the r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d  T H E UNIVERSITY  OF BRITISH  April,  ©  C O L U M B I A  2001  Steven M a r k Schroeder,  2001  OF  In p r e s e n t i n g this thesis in partial  fulfilment  o f the requirements f o r an a d v a n c e d degree  at  t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e it f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference a n d study. I further agree that p e r m i s s i o n f o r extensive c o p y i n g o f this thesis f o r scholarly p u r p o s e s m a y be granted b y the h e a d o f m y department or b y his or her representatives.  It is u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n  shall not b e a l l o w e d w i t h o u t m y w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department  HISTORY  of  The University o f British Columbia Vancouver,  Date  Canada  A p r i l 27.  2001  Abstract T h e M e n n o n i t e p e o p l e find t h e i r roots i n the S w i s s A n a b a p t i s t m o v e m e n t o f the e a r l y sixteenth century.  B o t h C a t h o l i c a n d Protestant persecution effectively dispersed the  n o n c o n f o r m i s t , n o n r e s i s t a n t A n a b a p t i s t s t h r o u g h o u t E u r o p e i n the f i r s t d e c a d e s o f the Reformation.  A l a r g e g r o u p settled i n the N e t h e r l a n d s , a n d c a m e to b e k n o w n as " M e n n o n i t e s "  after their leader, M e n n o S i m o n s .  B y the m i d - s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y , m a n y M e n n o n i t e s h a d  e m i g r a t e d to P r u s s i a , w h e r e they w e r e p r o m i s e d m i l i t a r y e x e m p t i o n a n d r e l i g i o u s t o l e r a t i o n . T h i s s t u d y e x a m i n e s h o w the l o n g s t a n d i n g M e n n o n i t e tenets o f f a i t h , b u t t r e s s e d b y s p e c i f i c c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s , w e r e s l o w l y e r o d e d i n P r u s s i a t h r o u g h the i n c o r p o r a t i o n o f n a t i o n a l i s t ideals. T h e shifts w e r e f u e l l e d b y the M e n n o n i t e s ' desire to s e c u r e t h e i r p l a c e i n the G e r m a n nation-state a n d to p a r t a k e i n the a d v a n t a g e s o f c u l t u r a l , r e l i g i o u s a n d n a t i o n a l a s s i m i l a t i o n .  Over  t i m e , the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s r e l i n q u i s h e d t h e i r t i m e - h o n o r e d b e l i e f s i n b e i n g " i n b u t not o f the w o r l d , " i n n o n r e s i s t a n c e , a n d i n not s w e a r i n g a n oath to " a n y t h i n g u n d e r h e a v e n o r o n e a r t h . " T h e s e c h a n g e s b e c a m e a b s o l u t e l y c r u c i a l to the m a i n t e n a n c e o f the M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y i n P r u s s i a u n d e r N a z i s m , w h e n a l l a b l e - b o d i e d M e n n o n i t e m e n w i l l i n g l y s e r v e d i n the G e r m a n armed forces. T h e P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s s u c c e e d e d i n m a i n t a i n i n g their c o m m u n i t y u n d e r N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m u n t i l the a d v a n c i n g R u s s i a n a r m y d e s t r o y e d it i n 1944. enormous.  T h e cost, h o w e v e r , w a s  Just as a l l G e r m a n s f a c e the c o n t i n u a l struggle o f r e b u i l d i n g t h e i r n a t i o n a n d r e -  f o r m i n g their n a t i o n a l i d e n t i t y , so t o o are the M e n n o n i t e s f a c e d w i t h the o n g o i n g c h a l l e n g e s  of  rebuilding their c o m m u n i t y - p h y s i c a l l y , e m o t i o n a l l y a n d spiritually. T h o s e p o s i t i v e l y engaged i n this p r o c e s s f i n d t h e m s e l v e s i n e x t r i c a b l y a f f e c t e d a n d c o n s t a n t l y b u r d e n e d b y p e r s o n a l a n d p o p u l a r m e m o r y , g r a p p l i n g , o f t e n u n a w a r e s , w i t h the p o l i t i c s o f t h e i r r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . T h e c o n c l u s i o n t o this s t u d y e x a m i n e s these r e s p o n s e s o f d i s s o n a n c e v i s - a - v i s the l i n g e r i n g q u e s t i o n s that f a c e the G e r m a n M e n n o n i t e s as t h e y c o n t i n u e to d e a l w i t h t h e i r o w n u n i q u e f o r m o f  VergangenheitsbewGltigung  ( c o m i n g to t e r m s w i t h the past) w i t h i n the b r o a d e r G e r m a n c o n t e x t .  Table of Contents  Abstract  T a b l e o f Illustrations  Acknowledgements  Introduction C o m p e t i n g M y t h s : T h e F o r m a t i o n o f the G e r m a n and Anabaptist Martyrology A H i s t o r y o f the Prussian M e n n o n i t e s ,  1535-1933  Prussian M e n n o n i t e s in the T h i r d R e i c h Aftermath  Vergangenheitsbewaltigung  Illustrations Bibliography  Nation-State  IV  Table of  Illustrations  Figure 1  T h e Kyffhauser M o n u m e n t in T h u r i n g i a  50  Figure 2a  T h e f o r m used b y M e n n o n i t e s in lieu o f  51  s w e a r i n g a n o a t h to the G e r m a n u p o n c o n s c r i p t i o n after 1935,  F i g u r e 2b  government  pages 1 and 2  T h e f o r m used by Mennonites in lieu o f s w e a r i n g a n o a t h to the G e r m a n u p o n c o n s c r i p t i o n after 1935,  52  government  pages 3 and 4  Figure 3  W o r l d W a r T w o m e m o r i a l at B o c k e n h e i m  53  Figure 4  T h e m e m o r i a l e r e c t e d at W e i e r h o f i n m e m o r y  54  o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s w h o p e r i s h e d d u r i n g the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r  V  Acknowledgements  I w o u l d l i k e to express m y a p p r e c i a t i o n to D r . C h r i s t o p h e r F r i e d r i c h s f o r his o u t s t a n d i n g g u i d a n c e i n this project a n d t h r o u g h o u t m y t i m e i n the M A p r o g r a m . I w o u l d also like to thank D r . S t e v e n T a u b e n e c k f o r his u n w a v e r i n g support and i n v a l u a b l e insights, and D r . J o h n C o n w a y f o r h i s g e n e r o s i t y o v e r the last f e w y e a r s -  particularly i n t e r m s o f the  w i s d o m i m p a r t e d , the g u i d a n c e g i v e n , a n d m a k i n g p o s s i b l e the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r m e to c o n d u c t r e s e a r c h i n G e r m a n y t h r o u g h the C o n w a y T r a v e l S c h o l a r s h i p i n G e r m a n H i s t o r y . The  findings  f r o m that e x c u r s i o n are an integral part o f this thesis.  to express m y l o v i n g gratitude to m y best f r i e n d and w i f e R e b e c c a ,  Finally, I w o u l d like for her steadfast love,  her support a n d her cheer.  T h i s p r o j e c t is d e d i c a t e d t o t h e l i v i n g m e m o r y o f S i e g f r i e d , w h o i m p a r t e d l i f e a n d l o v e t o me in m a n y w a y s and, together with E r n a , equipped m e with those things most valuable.  1 How woeful it will be for all those who have so easily allowed themselves to be misled into participation in these heroic deeds praised by the world, if they shall hear in Eternity how Hell echoes with the howling of those who -possibly through their own bullets, swords, or spears - were torn away from the time ofgrace during which they could have repented and been saved.  1  - Wilhelm Ewert, elder at Obernessau, 1872  Introduction A t t e m p t s to c o m e to t e r m s w i t h G e r m a n y ' s N a z i past h a v e b e e n , a n d c o n t i n u e  be, v e r y p r o b l e m a t i c .  G e r m a n government,  to  Intense e m o t i o n , grief, a n d c o n f u s i o n c o n t i n u a l l y affect the  communities,  and a p p r o p r i a t e l y o n the N a z i era -  a n d i n d i v i d u a l s as t h e y e n d e a v o r to r e f l e c t  in monuments,  museums,  memorials -  e f f e c t i v e l y w i t h w h a t C h a r l e s M a i e r has c a l l e d the " U n m a s t e r a b l e  Past."  adequately  and to deal  2  S o m e h a v e turned their attention t o w a r d the C h r i s t i a n c h u r c h e s i n G e r m a n y  d u r i n g the 1930  a n d 1 9 4 0 s , w o n d e r i n g h o w t h o s e w h o c o n s i d e r e d t h e m s e l v e s as  the  g u a r d i a n s o f m o r a l i t y i n s o c i e t y c o u l d h a v e f a i l e d t o r e s i s t t h e N a z i Machtergreifung  in e f f e c t i v e l y resisting N a z i p o l i c i e s thereafter.  and  In these i n q u i r i e s , the free c h u r c h e s i n  G e r m a n y h a v e n o t r e c e i v e d a s m u c h a t t e n t i o n as t h e m a i n l i n e C h r i s t i a n  denominations,  resulting i n the relative o b s c u r i t y o f their history d u r i n g this p e r i o d .  T h e h i s t o r y o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y d u r i n g the T h i r d R e i c h falls  into this latter category.  Descendents  o f the F r i s i a n a n d F l e m i s h M e n n o n i t e s ,  3  the  The response of Wilhelm Ewert, elder in the Mennonite church at Obernessau, to the declaration by Jakob Mannhardt, elder in the Danzig church, that Mennonites should give up Wehrlosigkeit and join in the obligations of all citizens after 1848: John Thiessen, "The First Duty of the Citizen: Mennonite Identity and Military Exemption in Prussia, 1848-77," vaMennonite Quarterly Review, 72 (1998), pp. 182-183. Charles Maier, The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity, 2 ed.. (Cambridge, 1997). Christian Neff points out that 'Flemish' and 'Frisian' were 'party names' and were not to be strictly associated with Mennonites in the respective regions. The origin of the differentiation, however, came —when Flemish Mennonites arrived in Friesland after fleeing persecution. The more modest Frisian Mennonites saw them as 'worldly'. Christian Neff, "Flemish Mennonites" in Bender, H . and Smith, C. Henry (eds.), Mennonite Encyclopedia (Newton, 1959), Volume II, p.339. 1  2  3  nd  2  M e n n o n i t e s i n P r u s s i a i n i t i a l l y settled i n D u c a l , o r E a s t , P r u s s i a  Prussia  5  b e t w e e n D a n z i g a n d T h o r n after  fleeing  4  and i nPolish, or West,  persecution i nthe Netherlands.  This  study w i l l b e c h i e f l y concerned w i t h these groups, a n d w i t h t h e N o r t h G e r m a n a n d  R h e n i s h M e n n o n i t e congregations  Mennonitengemeinden  that j o i n e d the P r u s s i a n - b a s e d  founded in 1886.  6  Vereinigung  B u i l t o n the sixteenth century  der  Anabaptist  tradition, t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f the M e n n o n i t e d e n o m i n a t i o n lies i n a strict ' t w o - k i n g d o m  theology,'  nonconformity, freedom o f conscience,  r u l e r , o r b e a r a r m s , a n d sola scriptura  g u i d i n g o n e t h r o u g h life).  refusal to s w e a r a n oath to a n y earthly  (the a x i o m that S c r i p t u r e s a l o n e w e r e s u f f i c i e n t i n  T h e M e n n o n i t e d e n o m i n a t i o n g r e w i n a context o f great  insecurity, u n d e r g o i n g persecution a n de x p u l s i o n i n m a n y areas o f the H o l y  E m p i r e d u r i n g the R e f o r m a t i o n , as their M e n n o n i t e b e l i e f s w e r e i n h e r e n t l y  with the established g o v e r n i n g political and religious institutions.  Roman  incompatible  O v e r the centuries,  this  i n s e c u r i t y d e v e l o p e d into a n e n d e m i c feature o f P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t i s m , as its m e m b e r s  continued i n their struggle f o r acceptance i n the Prussian k i n g d o m .  D u r i n g the N a z i era,  Duke Albrecht von Hohenzollern created the secular duchy of East Prussian in 1525, after a long dispute with his uncle, Polish King Zygmunt I. The duchy became a haven for heretics in the sixteenth century. The persecuted Anabaptists took advantage of this, especially after 1535, the year of: the Minister uprising; an Anabaptist attack on the Amsterdam city hall; and a similar attack on the Oldeklooster in Friesland. After the Mennonites settled mostly along the Memel River in East Prussia, Bishop Speratus expelled them from the region for not adhering to Prussian church doctrine concerning baptism and communion. This prompted many to move to the Vistula Delta and Danzig during 1543-1547, where K i n g Zygmunt granted them the swampy land. Peter J. Klassen, "Faith and Culture in Conflict: Mennonites in the Vistula Delta," 4  in Mennonite Quarterly Review, 57:3 (1983), p. 197.  The region west of the Nogat River was ceded to the Polish king, Kazimierz IV, in 1466. The king refused to accept immigrating heretics, particularly as there was a Hanseatic ban on doing so (the consequence of not adhering to the ban was banishment from the Hanseatic League, which would have had dire affect on the economy of tire city of Danzig). Klassen, "Faith and Culture" p. 196. The Vereinigung der Mennoniten-Gemeinden im Deutschen Reich included congregations in East and West Prussia, the Palatinate and Hesse. The Vereinigung, founded in Berlin in 1886, was constituted thus: 12 north German congregations, 6 in the Palatinate; since 1934, it included all German Mennonite congregations except for those in the Verband. The Vereinigung secured its status as public corporation in the early twentieth century. (Emil Haendiges served as president during 1932-53). Ernst Crous - "Vereinigung der Mennoniten-Gemeinden im Deutschland" in Bender and Smith, Volume V , p. 812. The Badisch-Wurttembergisch-Bayerischer Gemeindeverband (five, Verband) was a union of 8 congregations in 5  6  3  the M e n n o n i t e s c o m p r o m i s e d their foundational beliefs a n d s y n t h e s i z e d their  nonconformist, 'not o f the w o r l d ' M e n n o n i t i s m with G e r m a n nationalism.  Most  M e n n o n i t e s i n P r u s s i a s u p p o r t e d the N a t i o n a l Socialists a n d sent a l l o f their a b l e - b o d i e d  draft-age m e n to enlist i n the G e r m a n a r m e d forces d u r i n g the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r .  W h i l e the M e n n o n i t e s t o d a y share i n the struggles o f the b r o a d e r G e r m a n nation  w h e n c o m i n g to terms w i t h this part o f their history, they m u s t also deal w i t h t h e a d d e d  c o n u n d r u m o f h a v i n g c o m p r o m i s e d f u n d a m e n t a l tenets o f their o w n M e n n o n i t e faith.  L i k e s o m e o f their G e r m a n n e i g h b o r s , m a n y M e n n o n i t e s feel that they h a v e b e e n  m i s u n d e r s t o o d a n d r i d i c u l e d f o r their actions between  1933 a n d 1945 a n d h a v e  been  misrepresented and condemned in both popular and scholarly historical accounts.  The  popular rendition o f the G e r m a n s o f the T h i r d R e i c h b e i n g a nation o f h o m o g e n o u s  d e p r a v i t y , a c c o r d i n g t o o n e M e n n o n i t e v e t e r a n o f t h e Luftwaffe,  pocus."  7  T o a n o t h e r v e t e r a n it i s s i m p l y " a h i s t o r i c a l j o k e . "  is t h e result o f " h o c u s  8  T h i s s t u d y seeks t o u n d e r s t a n d better the c o m m u n i t y a n d its a c t i o n s i n t h e  N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t era. I n this quest, t h e d e e p - s e a t e d n a t i o n a l a n d r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n s that  served i n s h a p i n g the M e n n o n i t e s ' lives will b e e x a m i n e d - particularly i n order to c o m e  to a n u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f h o w G e r m a n n a t i o n a l i s m a n d n o n c o n f o r m i s t A n a b a p t i s m m e r g e d  in a collaborative synthesis d u r i n g the T h i r d R e i c h .  Competing Myths: Formation of the German Nation-State and Anabaptist Martyrology T h e K y f t h a u s e r m o n u m e n t i n T h u r i n g i a is p e r h a p s t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l national  m o n u m e n t that h a s s e r v e d i n s t r e n g t h e n i n g the n o t i o n that h i s t o r y h a d p r e d e s t i n e d the  Baden,5 in Wurttemberg, 2 in the Palatinate, 4 in Bavaria (totaling 1000 in 1900). Harold Bender, "Badisch-Wiirttembergisch-Bayerischer Gemeindeverband" in Bender and Smith, Volume I, p.485. Interview of Walter Regehr by Author, 26 July, 1999 (Winnipeg, M B ) . 7  4  u n i f i c a t i o n o f t h e G e r m a n p e o p l e u n d e r t h e m i g h t y E m p e r o r W i l h e l m I.  A place o f  p i l g r i m a g e i n t h e M i d d l e A g e s , t h e l e g e n d a r y m o u n t a i n o n w h i c h t h e m o n u m e n t rests  was believed to be the h o m e o f E m p e r o r Friedrich I Barbarossa.  Friedrich, or  ' R e d b e a r d ' , w a s believed to be slumbering within the mountain, waiting f o r the  opportune e p o c h to a w a k e a n d e m e r g e - w h i c h w o u l d b e signaled b y the s u d d e n  d e p a r t i n g o f t h e n u m e r o u s r a v e n s that c o n t i n u a l l y c i r c l e d the m o u n t a i n -  unite the G e r m a n p e o p l e as h e h a d d o n e d u r i n g his g l o r i o u s r e i g n as H o l y  i n order to re-  Roman  E m p e r o r in the twelfth century.  A f t e r the G e r m a n victory in the Franco-Prussian war, the m y t h w a s resurrected  and used b y the G e r m a n military a n d government in securing W i l h e l m ' s proper place in  history.  9  Indeed, the reason D r . Westphal, captain in the a r m y a n d secretary o f the  G e r m a n S o l d i e r s ' A s s o c i a t i o n , p r o p o s e d the b u i l d i n g o f the m o n u m e n t i n 1888 w a s  "because E m p e r o r Whitebeard has fulfilled the saga a n d redeemed E m p e r o r R e d b e a r d . "  u  T h e ravens f o u n d a n e w h o m e , the M o n u m e n t w a s erected, a n d the S o l d i e r s ' A s s o c i a t i o n  e s t a b l i s h e d t h e "Kyffhauserbund  der deutschen  Landeskriegerverbdnde"  in 1898  1 1  in  order to preserve the m o n u m e n t , the contemporary interpretation o f the l e g e n d o f  R e d b e a r d a n d the m e m o r y o f the soldiers w h o fulfilled the legend.  Interview of Siegfried Bartel by Author, 11 April, 2000 (Agassiz, BC). From the political essays and poetry created throughout the nineteenth century, it is evident that not everyone in Germany agreed that die legend of Barbarossa and the Kyffhauser mountain should be interpreted in such a way as to promote German imperialism. The Burschenschaften, for example, opposed Imperialist nationalists, and expressed their sentiments in a poem that addressed the legend of Redbeard: "Das beste ware, du bliebst zu Haus, Hier in dem alten Kyffhauser - Bedenk ich die Sache ganz genau, So brauchen wir gar keinen Kaiser." (It would be best, if you stayed at home, here in the old Kyffhauser - If I think this over carefully, We do not need a Kaiser). Albrecht Timm, Der Kyffhauser im deutschen Geschichtsbild (Gottingen, 1966), p.19. 8 9  —.' Literature obtained at the Kyffhauser monument In 1921, a new committee was established to manage the monument, the "Deutschen Reichskriegerbund Kyffhauser" which became the "NS-Reichskriegerbund Kyffhauser" after 1933. Timm, p.26. 0  11  5  T h i s official, nationalist interpretation  1 2  o f historical developments  bolstered a strong i m a g e o f the n e w nation-state.  successfully  Eric H o b s b a w m , however, links the  n o t i o n o f i n v e n t i o n t o t h e establishment o f n e w traditions i n G e r m a n y , c l a i m i n g that " t h e  r e a l n a t i o n c a n o n l y b e r e c o g n i z e d aposteriorf  ,i3  a n d that t h e s t a n d a r d t r a p p i n g s h e  identified a n d associated w i t h m o d e r n n a t i o n h o o d served i n that p r o c e s s .  1 4  The new  G e r m a n nation sought to create a sense o f identity a n d continuity w i t h the p a s t .  1 5  N a t i o n a l s y m b o l s , m o n u m e n t s a n d definitions o f citizenship w e r e either created o r r e -  construed to serve i n d e f i n i n g the n a t i o n ,  1 6  with the most u n a m b i g u o u s e m b o d i m e n t o f  masculinity, militarism, a n dnationalism being found i nthe K y f f h a u s e r M o n u m e n t (see  F i g u r e 1). T h e m a i n c o m p o n e n t o f t h e m o n u m e n t i s a n e q u e s t r i a n s t a t u e o f W i l h e l m I,  m o u n t e d h i g h a b o v e t h e s c u l p t e d i m a g e o f the a w a k e n i n g B a r b a r o s s a .  T h e K a i s e r is  f l a n k e d b y t h e a l l e g o r i c a l f i g u r e s o f H i s t o r y a n d W a r as h e g a z e s v i c t o r i o u s l y o v e r t h e  Thuringian plains below.  H i g h atop the m o n u m e n t , a c r o w n rests o n a v a c a n t throne.  H e r e , there is a clear intent to perpetuate notions o f national history, destiny, a n d u n i t y  a l l o f w h i c h w e r e r e a l i z e d t h r o u g h Blut und Eisen  t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f t h e Volksgemeinschaft  (people's  -  f o r t h e s e c u r i n g o f Blut und Boden a n d  community).  See Chapter Six of Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (New York, 1991). Here, Anderson discusses the elitist control of national identity formation, resulting in 'official nationalism.' Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism. (Cambridge, 1990), p.9. Also, see John Breuilly, The Formation ofthe First German Nation-State, 1800-1871. (New York: St. Martins, 1996), p. 111. Such as national flags, monuments, national anthems, etc. See Eric Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe 1870-1914" in The Invention of Tradition, (Cambridge, 1983), p. 7. Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing", p. 267-268. Examples include: the memorial to Arminius the Cheruscan being nationalized in 1875; the erection of the Niederwald monument on the Rhine to commemorate German unification; the memorial cemetery commemorating the battle of Leipzig (in 1913). Hobsbawm, "Mass-Producing", p.259. After unification, the German government entrenched further the Prussian citizenship laws introduced in 1842, which _ differentiated between Staatsangehdrigkeit (formal state membership), Staatsburgerschaft (participatory citizenship) and Volkszugehdrigkeit (ethnocultural, national membership). Rogers Brubaker Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. (Cambridge, 1992), p.51. 1 2  1 3  s  14  1 5  1 6  6  Naturally, n o t all G e r m a n s shared i n the enthusiasm o f the n e w national m y t h i n  the late n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , o r i n its a c c o m p a n y i n g " P r u s s i a n i z a t i o n " - m o s t l y i n v o l v i n g  issues related to language a n d adherence to Protestantism,  Kulturkampf  as w i t n e s s e d i n t h e  and R e i c h policy vis-a-vis G e r m a n k i n g d o m s outside o f Prussia.  In the case  o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s , G e r m a n n a t i o n a l i s m e v o k e d a n a m b i v a l e n t response.  O n the  positive side, the hard w o r k i n g notions endorsed b y the G e r m a n people, e c h o i n g the idea  o f a n a t i o n b u i l t o n Blut undBoden,  resonated with t h e m .  G e r m a n , spoke the G e r m a n l a n g u a g e  1 8  1 7  T h e y were ethnically  and, although they w e r e part o f a free c h u r c h  tradition, most o f their ministers w e r e trained i n state-run L u t h e r a n u n i v e r s i t i e s .  1 9  In  short, they w e r e m o s t l y a s s i m i l a t e d i n P r u s s i a b y t h e late n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , d e s i r e d t o  partake o f all the positive elements o f b e i n g G e r m a n a n d w a n t e d to participate fully in  G e r m a n y society.  O n t h e other h a n d , as o u t l i n e d a b o v e , the M e n n o n i t e s w a n t e d to  m a i n t a i n t h e c u l t u r a l a n d r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n s that g a v e t h e m a s t r o n g s e n s e o f g r o u p  identity a n d a strong sense o f c o n n e c t i o n w i t h their c h e r i s h e d history.  These  traditions  essentially r a n c o u n t e r to s o m e o f the m a i n e l e m e n t s i n m o d e r n G e r m a n n a t i o n a l i s m a n d ,  n a t u r a l l y , w e r e d i a m e t r i c a l l y o p p o s e d t o t h e m i l i t a r y e t h o s t h a t w a s i m m o r t a l i z e d at t h e  Kyffhauser Monument.  In "German Mennonites, Economics and the State", James Lichti links what he calls 'bread and sweat' with 'Blut und Boden', asserting that "Mennonite stewardship norms did overlap at points with those of National Socialism." In Calvin Redekop, Victor Krahn and Samuel Steiner (eds.), Anabaptist/Mennonite Faith and Economics (New York, 1994), pp. 100-107. The Mennonites maintained their Frisian and Flemish divisions and the Dutch language until 1759. Thereafter, they conducted religious services in High German. Edmund Kizik, "Religious Freedom and the Limits of Social Assimilation: The History of the Mennonites in Danzig and the Vistula Delta Until Their Tragic End after World War II" in Alastair Hamilton, Sjouke Voolstra and Piet Visser (eds.), From Martyr to Muppy: Mennonite Urban Professionals (Amsterdam, 1994), p.59. Diether Goetz Lichdi explains how Mennonite ministers traveled throughout Germany in order to receive theological training in state universities after the Mennonites began to focus on having 'professional,' or — seminary-trained pastors in the nineteenth century. Leading pastors were: Emil Haendiges, ElbingEllerwald, editor of theMennonitische Blatter and chair of Vereinigung; Erich Gottner, Danzig; Christian 17  1 8  1 9  7  T h e c o u n t e r - m y t h to the K y f f h a u s e r l e g e n d , w h i c h s e r v e s as a n e s s e n t i a l p a r t o f  M e n n o n i t e self-understanding, originates i n the E u r o p e - w i d e A n a b a p t i s t m o v e m e n t ,  S e c o n d F r o n t o f the R e f o r m a t i o n .  or  T h e c o l l e c t i v e identity o f this g r o u p c a n b e t r a c e d to  the lineage o f nonresistant martyrs w h o w e r e persecuted and k i l l e d after the D i e t o f  Speyer in 1529,  2 1  w h i c h o f f i c i a l l y o u t l a w e d the sect. T h e r e a f t e r , the A n a b a p t i s t s ,  i n c l u d i n g the c o n v e r t e d D u t c h priest M e n n o S i m o n s , w e r e c o n t i n u a l l y o n the r u n  t h r o u g h o u t the H o l y R o m a n E m p i r e .  T h e y were expelled  B u r t s c h e i d a n d O d e n k i r c h e n i n the early seventeenth  from  century.  2 2  Aachen, Cologne,  These  experiences  established a p e r s e c u t i o n c o m p l e x a m o n g the A n a b a p t i s t s , a d d i n g a n inherent insecurity  to the g r o u p ' s s e l f - i d e n t i t y .  In his teachings, M e n n o c o n s i d e r e d the use o f force to be anachronistic,  suitable  o n l y f o r the p r e - C h r i s t i a n era, c l a i m i n g :  Moses and his successors have served their day with their sword of iron, and... Christ has now given us a new commandment and has girded us with another sword. 23  D r i v i n g this s t r o n g nonresistant stance w a s the desire a m o n g m a i n s t r e a m A n a b a p t i s t s to  distance t h e m s e l v e s f r o m the A n a b a p t i s t s w h o w e r e i n v o l v e d i n the P e a s a n t s W a r a n d the  Neff, Weierhof; Benjamin Unruh, the 'Vertreter der Russland Mennoniten'. Diether Goetz Lichdi, Mermoniten im Dritten Reich: Dokumentation und Deutung (Weierhof, 1977), p.26-27. Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, 1964) p . l 1. Adherents of the movement established themselves in Thuringia, Switzerland, Tyrol, Holland and northern Germany. In 1529, the imperial Diet of Speyer, by edict of oudawry effective throughout the Empire, practically eliminated hopes of milder treatment of the persecuted Anabaptists. Executions of Anabaptists were common and numerous. The great leaders of the Anabaptism - Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, William Reublin, John Brotli, Michael Sattler and Balthasar Hubmaier were all dead by 1529. The original settlers in Prussia had migrated directly from the Dutch Mennonite community, fleeing the Duke of Alva's Blood Council in the mid-sixteenth century. C. Henry Smith, The Story of the Mennonites (Newton, 1957), p. 13. _ Ernst Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p. 490. Menno Simons, "The Cross of the Saints, c. 1574," in John C. Wenger (ed.), The Complete Writings of Menno Simons c. 1496-1561 (Scottsdale, 1956), p. 603. 2 0  21  2 2  2 3  8  attempted theocracy at Miinster in 1534, Schwdrmer,  or fanatics.  25  which earned them the stigma o f being  In "The Cross o f the Saints," Menno claimed: "the Miinsterites  were seditious and acted contrary to the W o r d o f G o d . . . we deny that we are a piece o f them."  The Anabaptists who adopted his name in 1544, forming the Mennonites,  26  officially accepted the main tenets o f the Swiss Anabaptist Schleitheim Confession o f 1527.  27  They embraced nonresistance, not swearing an oath to any temporal power,  belief in the separation of church and state, and they adopted Simon's insistence on staving off secular influences on the conscience, which was to be chiefly guided by the 28  29  Scriptures alone  (sola  scriptura).  First published in 1660, Thieleman van Braght's famous M a r k e r Wehrlosen  Christen  (Martyr's  Mirror  of the Defenseless  Christians)  Spiegel  der  consolidated an  Anabaptist/Mennonite martyrology that bolstered the movement's self-defined collective  The episode at Miinster witnessed Jan Matty's and his successor Jan van Leiden attempt to forcibly transform the city into the New Jerusalem prophesied in the book of Reveladon. The local Catholic bishop, with support of the German princes, laid siege to Miinster, and made short order of the 'theocracy.' In the end, van Leiden and his cohorts, including Menno Simons' brother, were killed and his remains, along with those of two other leaders of the movement, were displayed in the WiedertQuferktifige that were mounted on the Lamberti Kirche in Minister and are currently extant Smith, pp.44-49. The mainstream Anabaptists managed to stave off this association with fanaticism. They were, however, still seen as very radical and very dangerous, both by the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Reformers alike, particularly as they refused the entrenched coercionism of the establishment which, in their view, was "foreign to the true faith." The Anabaptists and their radical voluntarism, rejection of the establishment and nonresistance were dubbed Stabler or cane-carriers, much like the Donatists and Waldenses of past epochs. Not merely rebels, these people believed that they were set apart from other denominations that claimed to be Christian. They belonged to the one, true Christian church, and individual conscience, rather than conformity to the ways of the world, served as their guide. Verduin, p.63-65. Menno Simons, "The Cross," p.602. Also see Harold Bender, The Anabaptists and Religious Liberty in the Sixteenth Century fj'hiladelphia, 1970) p. 14. Written by Michael Sattler in 1527, the seven points of the Schleitheim Confession addressed proper behavior concerning the following: baptism; excommunication; breaking of bread; separation from the Abomination (evildoers); pastors; nonresistance; and refusal to swear oaths. Lowell Zuck (ed.) Christianity and Revolution: Radical Christian Testimonies 1520-1650 (Temple University, 1975), p. 72. Bender, "The Anabaptists," p. 15. Menno Simons, "The New Birth," in John C. Wenger (ed.), The Complete Writings of Menno Simons c. 1496-1561 (Scottsdale, 1956), p.89. 2 5  2 6  2 7  2 8  2 9  9  identity as the " t r u e b e l i e v e r s " - c o m p l e t e w i t h m o r a l r o l e - m o d e l s a n d heroes.  Mirror,  In the  v a n B r a g h t p o i n t e d t o the f a l l a c i o u s beliefs o f A p o s t o l i c S u c c e s s i o n h e l d b y b o t h  Protestants a n d R o m a n C a t h o l i c s , c l a i m i n g that the s u c c e s s i o n o f the true c h u r c h is f o u n d  in "the doctrine o f the apostles,  mouths."  3 1  [which] w e b e l i e v e i n o u r heart, a n d c o n f e s s w i t h o u r  T h e true believers, and subsequently those b e l o n g i n g to the true church, are  d e p i c t e d as t h o s e w h o w e r e b a p t i z e d u p o n c o n f e s s i o n o f f a i t h - starting w i t h J e s u s C h r i s t ,  and c o n t i n u i n g o n t o the Anabaptist reformers.  T h r o u g h t h e Mirror  and other  works,  3 2  M e n n o n i t e s c a m e t o a collective self-understanding as the true successors o f the one true  c h u r c h , w h o s e d e f i n i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c w a s t h a t o f b e i n g wehrlose  A History  of the Prussian  Mennonites,  Christen.  1535-1933  If the Lord values a soul more than the whole world, what a pitiable price to pay for decorations, incorporation laws, legal equalization with other denominations, security of property, and the honor of Fatherland and nation — in return to become companions in a work by which hundreds of thousands of souls, in a moment when they are fired by hate and bitterness, are thrown into Eternity. And in this we should help and not rather take up our pilgrim's staff and go to where we are free from such awful doings and where we will gladly be received. -Wilhelm Ewert, elder at Obernessau, 1872. 3  One classic story that appears in the Mirror is that of Dirk Willems. While being pursued by his enemies, the 'heretic' Dirk ran over an ice-coated river. A man pursuing him crashed through the ice and cried for help. Dirk, out of love for his enemy, decided to turn back and save the man's life. He succeeded, but, as a result of his actions, was caught by the other men pursuing him. They, in turn, arrested and executed Dirk as a heretic, despite his good deed. Thieleman J. van Braght, Martyr's Mirror of the Defenseless Christians (Kitchener, 1950), p.716. Historian C. Henry Smith adds that Menno Simons also had numerous legends surrounding his life, many of which include 'miraculous' elements that account for Menno's ability to elude his assailants. Smith, p.71. Van Braght steers the reader away from competing notions of personal Apostolic Succession, and focuses on doctrine. Van Braght, p.26. Some did not hold this view in the same manner, and continued to focus on Apostolic Succession. This is evident in Ignaz Franz's Anabaptist hymn, written in 1774: " L o the apostolic train; join thy sacred name to hallow Prophets swell and glad refrain; and the white-robed martyrs follow; and from momtilset of sun; through the Church the song goes on." Grosser Gott wir Loben dich, Ignaz Franz 1774, from Te Deum Laudamus, late fourth century. 31  Other related martyrological accounts include: Hutterite chronicles by Kaspar Braitmichel (1573) and A History of the Martyrs or True Witnesses to Jesus Christ (1615). Cornelius Dyck, "The Suffering Church in Anabaptism" in Mennonite Quarterly Review 59 (1985), p.7. The response of Wilhelm Ewert, elder in the Mennonites church at Obernessau, to the declaration by ~ Jakob Mannhardt, elder in the Danzig church, that Mennonites should give up Wehrlosigkeit and join in the obligations of all citizens after 1848. Here he is also addressing those Mennonites who wish to emigrate in order to escape the distressing situatiou John Thiessen, "The First Duty," pp. 182-183. 3 2  3 3  10  In the r e m a r k s q u o t e d above, W i l h e l m E w e r t w a s p r i m a r i l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h  M e n n o n i t e a s s i m i l a t i o n into P r u s s i a n society at a t i m e w h e n the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e  c o m m u n i t y - w h i c h consistently maintained a population o f approximately  w a s f a c e d w i t h the g o v e r n m e n t i m p o s i t i o n o f laws that threatened  beliefs and traditions.  12 0 0 0  3 4  -  s o m e o f their cherished  T h e c o n c e r n w a s w e l l - w a r r a n t e d , as the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s , b y  E w e r t ' s t i m e , h a d d r i f t e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y f r o m the b e l i e f s o f the o r i g i n a l M e n n o n i t e settlers  in the area, w h o had b e e n i n close contact w i t h M e n n o S i m o n s a n d his t e a c h i n g s .  3 5  T o be  sure, the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s h a d a c c e p t e d the D u t c h M e n n o n i t e D o r d r e c h t C o n f e s s i o n  in 1632  - w h i c h w a s b a s e d o n the earlier A n a b a p t i s t c o n f e s s i o n at S c h l e i t h e i m - a n d h a d  f o r m e d the c o n s e r v a t i v e t h e o l o g i c a l u n d e r p i n n i n g s o f the c o m m u n i t y .  T h e o r i g i n a l t h e o l o g i c a l f o u n d a t i o n o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s , h o w e v e r , d i d n o t  abate the t e n d e n c y t o w a r d a desire t o assimilate into P r u s s i a n culture, p a r t i c u l a r l y after  the M e n n o n i t e s h a d e n d u r e d great hardships d u r i n g the R e f o r m a t i o n .  A f t e r the  Great  E l e c t o r e m b r a c e d P i e t i s m , P r u s s i a b e c a m e a strict " m a r r i a g e o f P i e t i s m a n d t h e d r i l l  square."  3 6  B y the eighteenth century, both Pietism and R a t i o n a l i s m h a d m a d e significant  i n r o a d s i n the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y t h r o u g h the c o n n e c t i o n s o f Palatinate  3 4  and  The Mennonite population in Prussia from the early nineteenth century to 1945 remained between 13 000  (1816) and 10 500 (1945), or approximately 0.02% of the German population. In the 1925 census, there was a total of 13 298 Mennonites in all of Germany, the majority residing in East and Polish Prussia and Danzig. Most migration, except for the Russian exodus in the 1870s, was internal urbanization to Danzig, Berlin, Hamburg/Altona, Crefeld, Neuwied, Cologne, Dusseldorf, etc. Horst Penner, Die ost- und westpreufiischen Mennoniten. Teil II, (Weierhof, 1978), pp. 241, 267. Also, see Ernst Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler fXJetroit, 1979), p. 93. 3 5  Simons visited the Mennonites of the Vistula Delta in 1548 and in a letter exhorted them to a life of  peace amongst themselves, and with those outside the community. "Exhortation to a Church in Prussia, c. 1549," in Wenger, 1030-1035. The connection between Simons the Prussian church is also seen in the _fact that Dirk Philips, a close cohort of Simons, served as the first elder of the Danzig Mennonite Church. 3 6  E . J. Feuchtwanger, Prussia: Myth and Reality: The Role of Prussia in German History (London, 1970),  p.39.  11  W e s t Prussian M e n n o n i t e ministers, theological orientation.  3 8  a n d led to f u n d a m e n t a l shifts i n M e n n o n i t e  T h e M e n n o n i t e s , h o w e v e r , d i d n o t find a c c o r d w i t h t h e k i n g ' s  " m a r r i a g e " o f t h e i r b e l i e f s w i t h t h e " d r i l l s q u a r e " - at l e a s t f o r t h e t i m e b e i n g .  W h i l e s o m e o f the H o h e n z o l l e r n k i n g s in P r u s s i a p r o p e r a n d s o m e o f the P o l i s h kings in P o l i s h P r u s s i a often restricted, persecuted or deported the M e n n o n i t e s b e t w e e n the sixteenth a n d eighteenth centuries, there w e r e also m a n y e x a m p l e s ofprivilegia b e i n g extended to the M e n n o n i t e s i n this p e r i o d , mostly b e c a u s e b o t h k i n g d o m s v a l u e d M e n n o n i t e c o n t r i b u t i o n s to their r e s p e c t i v e e c o n o m i e s a n d h o p e d to c u r b M e n n o n i t e emigration.  3 9  A f t e r t h e first p a r t i t i o n o f P o l a n d i n 1 7 7 2 ,  P r u s s i a w e r e u n i t e d u n d e r K i n g F r i e d r i c h II.  37  the M e n n o n i t e s o f E a s t a n d W e s t  Immediately thereafter (1773), the  Ernst Crous, "Anabaptism, Pietism, Rationalism and German Mennonites" in Guy Hershberger (ed.) The  Recovery of the Anabaptist Vision: A Sixtieth Anniversary Tribute to Harold H. Bender (Scottsdale, 1957), p.241. The dissemination began in the Mennonite seminary at Amsterdam est. 1735. Jan Deknatel a key figure there, and pastor in Amsterdam since 1734, enjoyed a close connection with the Moravians and Methodists. Gerhard Tersteegen (Lower Rhine) influenced Prussians at Neuwied and Crefeld. Similarly, Pietism spread amongst notable Mennonite preachers such as Hans van Steen, preacher in Danzig from 1754 and Martin Mollinger, preacher at Mannheim from 1753, and Danzig's Isaak van Duehren (converted in 1772) and Heubuden's Cornelius Regier (converted 1764). Thus, through embracing Pietism - which stressed personal repentance of sin while not sharing the focus on holy living and discipleship found in traditional Mennonite theology - Mennonites gradually emerged from their seclusion, and essentially lost touch with sixteenth century Anabaptism. Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p.493. Crous in Hershberger, p.247-248. The Lutheranism, liberalism and modernism taught in universities found their way into Mennonite congregations. Gustav Kraemer in Crefeld (1903fF), and J.G. Appeldoom in Emden (1904-16) were prominent representatives of these tendencies. A milder liberalism had appeared earlier in Prussia proper with Carl Herder, pastor at Neuwied 1857-69 and at Elbing in the progressive town congregation in 1869-96 and with Hermann Gottlieb Mannhardt pastor at Danzig from 1879. In general confessional boundaries had become lax in certain areas. In many cases, such as in Crefeld and Monsheim, Lutheran and Baptist pastors headed Mennonite congregations. Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p.498. See Footnotes 3 and 4. The City of Danzig barred Mennonites from trading in the city in the early sixteenth century. Klassen, "Faith and Culture" p. 198. Concessions were offered to the Mennonites in terms of military service and guilds (a charter of liberties was issued in Danzig praising the economic productivity of the Mennonites and granting certain liberties and rights after the Diet of Thorn in 1571). H . G. Mannhardt, "Danzig Mennonite Church" in Bender and Smith, Volume III, p. 9. As Mennonite nonconformity with the world was precisely what allowed them to become the best farmers, artisans, manufacturers, etc., rulers during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, such as Polish K i n g Wladislaus IV, held them in high regard. Horst Penner, "West Prussia" in Bender and Smith, Volume IV, p. 923. — Friedrich Wilhelm I, however, expelled the Mennonites from the newly-established Prussian kingdom in 1724. Most established a new life across the Nogat River in Polish Prussia. Klassen, "Faith and Culture," p. 200. 3 8  3 9  12  M e n n o n i t e s sent a delegation to K o n i g s b e r g , where they s u c c e s s f u l l y petitioned for the  p r o t e c t i o n o f their interests, i n c l u d i n g m i l i t a r y e x e m p t i o n .  K i n g F r i e d r i c h I F s T o l e r a t i o n E d i c t o f 1780  o b l i g e d the M e n n o n i t e s , w h o w e r e  granted citizenship a n d the privilege o f not serving in the a r m y " f o r all t i m e , "  4 0  w i t h the  c o n d i t i o n t h a t t h e y p a y a m i l i t a r y t a x o f 5 0 0 0 T a l e r s p e r y e a r t o t h e a c a d e m y at K u l m f o r t h i s  concession.  T h o s e u n c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h p a y i n g the tax a n d w i t h K i n g F r i e d r i c h ' s  o n l a n d o w n i n g rights for M e n n o n i t e s  emigrate.  4 1  restrictions  w e r e f i n a l l y p r o v i d e d w i t h a d d i t i o n a l m o t i v a t i o n to  First, F r i e d r i c h W i l l i a m I P s E d i c t C o n c e r n i n g the F u t u r e o f M e n n o n i t i s m ( 1 7 8 9 )  restricted s h a r p l y the o p p o r t u n i t y to p u r c h a s e l a n d a n d o b l i g e d M e n n o n i t e l a n d o w n e r s to p a y  the regular c h u r c h tax r e q u i r e d o f m e m b e r s o f the L u t h e r a n c h u r c h e s  it r e s t r i c t e d t h e i r e m i g r a t i o n f r o m P r u s s i a .  4 3  4 2  w h i l e at t h e s a m e t i m e  T h e s e c o n d m o t i v a t i o n to e m i g r a t e w a s f o u n d i n  C a t h e r i n e the G r e a t ' s i n v i t a t i o n to the M e n n o n i t e s a n d o t h e r s to settle a n d f a r m i n the U k r a i n e  in 1 7 8 7 .  4 4  M a n y c h o s e to f o l l o w their c o n s c i e n c e a n d o v e r c o m e their c i r c u m s t a n c e s  by  e m i g r a t i n g to R u s s i a , a n d t h o s e that c h o s e to r e m a i n i n P r u s s i a w e r e , n a t u r a l l y , o b l i g e d to  accommodate  t h e i r b e l i e f s t o t h e d e m a n d s o f t h e state.  E r n s t C r o u s c l a i m s that the M e n n o n i t e d e n o m i n a t i o n w o u l d h a v e c e a s e d to exist i n  P r u s s i a i n t h i s p e r i o d h a d it n o t b e e n f o r t h e c o n t i n u a l l y - e x p a n d i n g i n f l u e n c e s o f P i e t i s m a n d  4 0  Emit Haendiges, "The Catastrophe of the West Prussian Mennonites," in The Mennonite Quarterly  Review 24:2 4 1  (1950), p. 125.  While Frederick n granted the Mennonites military exemption, they were still subject to Prussian law.  Consequentially, if a Mennonite bought land in the Vistula Delta, he would be reducing the potential number of Prussian recruits in the local regiments. Therefore, military exemption was limited to those who owned less than 2100  Hufen of land. Kizik,  p.60.  4 2  Klassen, "Faith and Culture," p.  210.  4 3  In attempts to prevent farmers, artisans, business persons and laborers from leaving the Prussian  government denied permission to emigrate, impeded the sale or purchase of land or other possessions and refused to process documents. Mennonite efforts in Berlin in 1787  to expand land-holding rights were  overruled, which resulted in many choosing to emigrate. Peter J. Klassen, "Barriers to Emigration from - P r u s s i a " in Mennonite Quarterly Review 72 (1998), p. 85.  13  R a t i o n a l i s m w h i c h , he asserts, a f f o r d e d the M e n n o n i t e s a p h i l o s o p h i c a l a n d t h e o l o g i c a l  v i t a l i t y t h a t t h e y w e r e l a c k i n g at t h e t i m e .  4 5  W i t h that v i t a l i t y , h o w e v e r , c a m e  alterations to the traditional M e n n o n i t e stance o f nonresistance,  drastic  p e r h a p s i n f l u e n c e d b y the fact  t h a t t h e y h a d g a i n e d f u l l c i t i z e n s h i p u n d e r F r i e d r i c h W i l h e l m III i n  1801.  W i t h the F r e n c h g a i n i n g great i n f l u e n c e in P r u s s i a after the P e a c e o f L u n e v i l l e i n  and the P e a c e o f A m i e n s i n 1803,  the P r u s s i a n m i l i t a r y .  4 6  1801  the M e n n o n i t e s b e g a n to s h o w active, voluntary support for  T h i s t e n d e n c y to support the m i l i t a r y d e v e l o p e d p a r t i c u l a r l y  t h e M e n n o n i t e s o f w e s t e r n G e r m a n y i n t h e first h a l f o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y .  among  Crefeld's  M e n n o n i t e b a n k e r a n d m e m b e r o f the P r u s s i a n and F r a n k f u r t p a r l i a m e n t s H e r m a n n v o n  B e c k e r a t h b o l d l y stated in  1848:  I think myself fortunate in belonging to one of the freest denominations. The time of privileges is gone. The modern state requires equal rights for all citizens, so the Rhenish Mennonites, with only few exceptions, are rendering their military service. Nonresistance with them is no longer an integral part of their creed.  47  T h e M e n n o n i t e s in Prussia, h o w e v e r , were not eager to align themselves  R h e n i s h brethren, a n d o p p o s e d the P r u s s i a n C o n s t i t u t i o n o f 1848  for all citizens.  o f nonresistance  w i t h their  that p r o c l a i m e d equal duties  W e s t P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s pleaded for toleration o f the M e n n o n i t e privilege  i n 1848  a n d again after K i n g W i l h e l m I r e v o k e d the m i l i t a r y e x e m p t i o n  M e n n o n i t e s o n 18 O c t o b e r ,  1867.  A f t e r the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s a p p e a l e d to w a r  minister  W a l d e m a r v o n R o o n a n d C r o w n P r i n c e F r i e d r i c h , W i l h e l m agreed to again grant the  Catherine's 1763 Manifesto invited foreigners to settle in the Ukraine. Through a special emissary, Georg Trappe, the Mennonites in Prussia were specifically invited with the promise of land, military exemption and a list of privileges. Klassen, "Barriers" p. 86. Crous, "Anabaptism," in Hershberger, p.241. See Feuchtwanger, pp.92-98 for a description of the increase in French presence and control in Prussia. Horst Penner explains how the Mennonites donated 30 000 Talers to King Friedrich III upon his visit to Konigsberg in 1806, and in 1810 added 10 000 Talers to the compulsory war tax, and supported the war effort with horses, food, supplies, etc., while excommunicating those that enlisted in the army (revealing the fine line of 'proper' service). Horst Penner, "West Prussia," in Bender and Smith, Volume IV, p. 925. Crous.. "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume U, p.496. 4 4  4 5  4 6  4 7  for  14  M e n n o n i t e s alternative service rights i n a n O r d e r o f C a b i n e t o n 3 M a r c h , 1868,  a n d the right  for M e n n o n i t e s to guarantee their loyalty t o the c r o w n with a h a n d s h a k e instead o f swearing  an oath i n 1 8 6 9 .  4 9  A n d loyal they were.  Jacob M a n n h a r d t  5 0  U p o n the outbreak o f the F r a n c o - P r u s s i a n  urged his congregation  W a r , D a n z i g minister  to support the w a r effort short o f bearing arms:  Ein furchtbarer Krieg ist zwischen Frankreich und Deutschland entstanden...also, daB aus alien Stadten alt und jung, Manner und Frauen...durch personlichen Dienst als Krankenpfleger oder durch Geld und Darreichung anderer Gaben, durch Anfertigung von Bekleidungs- und Verbandsgegenstanden fur die Ausriistung und Versorgung der ins Feld ausgeriickten Scharen und die Pflege und Erquickung von Verwundeten und Erkrankten Sorge zu tragen. 51  W h i l e m o s t P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s d i d not c h o o s e to bear a r m s i n this p e r i o d , their  o t h e r - w o r l d l y f o c u s a n d t w o - k i n g d o m t h e o l o g y h a d certainly u n d e r g o n e g r e a t c h a n g e , as they  w e r e n o w p a r t i c i p a t i n g f u l l y i n the life o f the n e w G e r m a n nation-state, e v e n w h i l e " a l e g a c y  was being  lost."  5 2  A r t i c l e 7 o f the D a n z i g M e n n o n i t e C h u r c h Constitution o f 2 9 N o v e m b e r  provides a n excellent e x a m p l e o f the transformation  o f M e n n o n i t e traditions.  1886  It s t a t e s :  " W h e n e v e r the fatherland requires military service w e allow the individual conscience o f each  m e m b e r t o serve i n that f o r m w h i c h satisfies h i m m o s t . "  5 3  A c c o r d i n g to M e n n o  Simons'  teachings, t h e ideal c o n d i t i o n that a l l o w e d f o r the liberty o f i n d i v i d u a l c o n s c i e n c e r e q u i r e d  Thiessen, "The First Duty," p. 170. Emil Haendiges, Historisches Memorandum zur Wehrlosigkeit der Mennoniten (Weierhof, 1951), pp. 1126. See Jakos Mannhardt, "Konnen und durfen wir Mennoniten der von dem Staate geforderten Wehrpflicht genugen?" inMennonitische Blatter August (1872), pp. 41-43 for a more comprehensive account of Mannhardt's views on Mennonite involvement in war. (A terrible war has developed between France and Germany. Therefore, men and women, young and old, from all cities.. .are needed to serve as nurses, or through money or offering other gifts by which we can make up for the slander and prejudice and offer equipment to care for those in the field, and supply and care and concern for those who are injured). Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p.23. Klassen, "Faith and Culture" p. 203. Haendiges, "Catastrophe," p. 126 4 8  4 9  5 0  51  5 2 5 3  15  that the state r e f r a i n f r o m i n t e r f e r i n g i n c h u r c h a f f a i r s  obedience -  5 4  a n d that, after a c c e p t a n c e o f faith,  to a m o n o l i t h i c u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f " t h e fruits o f the f a i t h "  freedom o f individual conscience.  Mennonites in Prussia  defined by Simons.  voluntarily  5 5  - w a s to supersede  H e r e , e n j o y i n g toleration in the S e c o n d R e i c h ,  the  the  a b a n d o n e d t h e c o l l e c t i v e " r i g h t p a t h " o f t h e C h r i s t i a n as  W h i l e m a i n t a i n i n g their foundational p r i n c i p l e o f i n d i v i d u a l  conscience,  they r e d e f i n e d S i m o n s ' t e a c h i n g s a n d a b a n d o n e d their c o l l e c t i v e u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the same,  as p h y s i c a l p r o x i m i t y c a m e t o s u p e r s e d e t h e b i b l i c a l m a n d a t e t o " l o v e t h y n e i g h b o r " i n a  universal sense.  5 6  Indeed, b y W o r l d W a r I the n o t i o n o f non-resistance  the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s .  undHelden",  In 1915  was virtually non-existent  H . G . M a n n h a r d t ( D a n z i g elder 1879-1927) wrote  among  "Taten  in w h i c h he c l a i m e d :  Doch was reden wir von der Zukunft, wahrend doch die Gegenwart alle unsere Gedanken fur sich fordert? Wir konnen jetzt nicht zusammenkornmen ohne unserer kampfenden und blutenden und besonders unserer gefallenen Briider zu gedenken. Taten und Helden hat die Not uns geboren... Als Schiller einst von Vaterland und Freiheit singen wollte, mufite er seine Helden jenseits der deutschen Grenzen suchen oder im fernen Altertum..heute wiirde er das nicht tun...Gott gebe uns jetzt und lninftig, im Kriege wie im Frieden, was wir dazu bediirfen: Taten und Helden! 57  Ron Fraser asserts: "for Menno, the state, in refraining from interference within the church, [provides] the circumstances for a faith based on liberty of conscience." Ron Fraser, Christian Freedom in the Theology of Menno Simons. (Vancouver, 1986), p.32. See Menno Simons, "The New Birth," pp.89, 96. Also, see Fraser, p. 125. Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi by Author, 6 June, 2000 (Heilbronn, Germany). Also, see Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p. 496. While making the transition into military service, the South German Mennonite Conference published a leaflet Warnungen und Winke fur die Milit&rzeit (Kaiserlautern, 1908), encouraging Mennonites to partake of all of the good things that the service had to offer, and warned against the tendency to lose faith while in the army, and adopting the military's mandate to hate the enemy. (Why do we talk about the future, when the present requires all of our attention? We cannot meet now without thanking our fighting and injured and particularly our fallen brothers. The distress has given birth to actions and heroes... When Schiller once wanted to sing about the Fatherland and freedom, he had to look for heroes beyond the German border or in distant history. Today that will not be the case... God, gives us now and in the future, in war as in peacetime, that which we require: actions and heroes!), H . G. Mannhardt, Taten und Helden, (Danzig, 1915), p. 15, 19. Examples of a major shift in thought abound in this period. Paul Schowalter reveals how the Kaiser influenced the Mennonites in a Reichstag speech, in which he called on Germans to "Kniet nieder vor Gott und bittet ihn um Hilfe fur unser braves Heer" (Kneel low before God and ask him to help our brave Army). Schowalter also describes the reflections of a Mennonite woman who lost her son in battle: "Gott gab ihn uns, wir gaben ihn dem Vaterland." (God gave him to us, we gave him to the Fatherland). Paul Schowalter, Nationalismus undKrieg in denAugen der deutschen Mennoniten im 19 und 20Jahrhundert (Weierhof, 1976), Unpublished Paper, pp.50, 52. Diether 5 5 5 6  5 7  16  O f the 114 M e n n o n i t e s w h o w e r e drafted into t h e G e r m a n a r m y i n F i r s t W o r l d W a r ,  seventy-  four bore arms, w h i l e twenty-two w e r e i n v o l v e d i n military training a n deighteen w o r k e d i n  m e n t a l hospitals as  Sanitater * 5  T h e V e r s a i l l e s settlement d i v i d e d the provinces o f E a s t and W e s t Prussia into the F r e e  C i t y o f D a n z i g , part o f P o l a n d , and E a s t Prussia.  A s a result, the M e n n o n i t e c o n g r e g a t i o n s i n  the V i s t u l a D e l t a w e r e relegated to three different political a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s .  5 9  Mennonites  under G e r m a n administration appealed to the W e i m a r Constitution a n d successfully gained  the status o f a p u b l i c c o r p o r a t i o n , e s t a b l i s h i n g their d e n o m i n a t i o n as a n e q u a l a m o n g others i n  Germany.  W h i l e r e m a i n i n g religious outsiders i n G e r m a n y ,  r e q u i r e d t o p a y t h e state c h u r c h t a x f o r t h e first t i m e s i n c e  6 0  the M e n n o n i t e s were n o longer  1789.  6 1  Goetz Lichdi explains how one Mennonite preacher claimed: "Gott, der Herr, fuhrt unser ganzes Volk jetzt besondere Wege nach seinem heilsamen Plan.. .er hat unsere Kriegslage so geschaffen, daB wir nur danken konnen." (God, the Lord, leads our whole people in special ways according to his heavenly plan...he developed our involvement in the war, and for that we can only thank him). Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 24 Diether Goetz Lichdi asserts that "Es schient als ob die pietistisch gepragten Gemeinden im ElsaB und in Westpreussen die relative meistens Mitglieder hatten, die von der Vergunstigung der Kabinettsordre Gebrauch machten." (It appears as though the more Pietist-minded congregations in Alsace and West Prussia, compared to the other members of the Mennonite churches, were the ones that made use of the privilege afforded by the Order of Cabinet). Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 22. Siegfried Bartel, once a captain in the Wehrmacht, attests to personal experiences that illustrate these shifts in thinking among Mennonites in Prussia. His mother's diary, written throughout the First World War, is full of references to God's hand being on the German nation in war. Siegfried reflects: "The Mennonites were becoming very nationalistic in their thinking. This was a result of them having embraced the Pietist movement, which was Lutheran based. [My mother] gave me the name Siegfried Wilhelm. You couldn't be more patriotic than that...the Kaiser's name on top of the Siegfried." Interview of Siegfried Bartel. 5 8  Most congregations were assigned to the Free State of Danzig, including: Danzig, Neunhuben, Fiirstenwerder, Heubuden, Ladekopp, Orlofferfelde, Rosenort, and Tiegenhagen. Those assigned to East Prussia: ElbingEllerwald, Thiensdorf-Markushof and Tragheimerweide. Those in Poland: Thorn, Kulm, Graudenz, Obernessau, Schonsee, Montau-Gruppe. Penner, "Ost-West," p. 104-105. 5 9  In 1925, 95% of the German population belonged to either the Roman Catholic or Protestant Land Churches. Ernst Helmreich explains how those from the "more esoteric sects" were restricted in teaching religion in schools, from speaking at public gatherings, and in gaining access to cemeteries. Helmreich, p.94. In 1874 a Prussian law allowed Mennonite congregations to incorporate. After 1924 Gustav Reimer, in a series of lawsuits, liberated the Mennonites of Prussia proper from the obligation of paying taxes to the _ Protestant established church." Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p. 497. Diether Goetz Lichdi explains: "They didn't have to pay any fees to the Protestant Church...actually since 1928...there was a trial in Leipzig due to the constitution, it was challenged... the court ruled in favor of the West 6 0  61  17  T h e d i s r u p t i o n o f the P r u s s i a n c o m m u n i t y after the w a r , h o w e v e r , devastated the  h i g h l y d e v e l o p e d a g r i c u l t u r e a n d cattle industry, i n w h i c h the M e n n o n i t e s lost their p r i n c i p a l  markets f o r their products, a n d w e r e forced to pay the h i g h tariffs i m p o s e d b y the P o l e s w h i c h  b e c a m e i n c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l t d u e to the d e f l a t e d p o s t w a r e c o n o m y .  a n d P o l e s c o m p e t e d f o r p r i v i l e g e s i n the F r e e State o f D a n z i g ,  in 1917  6 2  Additionally, Germans  and the B o l s h e v i k R e v o l u t i o n  a n d S t a l i n ' s c o l l e c t i v i z a t i o n o f f a r m l a n d i n the early 1930s left t h o u s a n d s  Mennonites homeless,  these d e v e l o p m e n t s ,  stripped o f all they o w n e d or d e a d in U k r a i n e .  a c c o m p a n i e d b y the R e i c h g o v e r n m e n t  to R u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s i n 1929,  of  T h e aggregate effects o f  s e n d i n g six m i l l i o n M a r k s o f aid  led m o s t P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s to adopt a strong anti-  B o l s h e v i s t and a n t i - P o l i s h stance, and bolstered their support f o r the R i g h t .  6 3  A c c o r d i n g to E m i l H a e n d i g e s : "this d i f f i c u l t e c o n o m i c situation s h o u l d b e  considered  i f w e w a n t to u n d e r s t a n d w h y M e n n o n i t e farmers j o i n e d the N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t s i n the F r e e  State o f D a n z i g . "  6 4  O n e M e n n o n i t e m a n w h o lived in Neuteicherhinterfeld  recalled:  We would try anything to get back into the Fatherland. Therefore, we were all in favor of organizations that went into that direction. We were politically involved as Mennonites, very much s o . D a n z i g pastor E r i c h G d t t n e r expressed s o m e o f his sentiments  at t h e e n d o f 1 9 2 9 ,  65  while  l o o k i n g f o r w a r d to m o r e p o s i t i v e e x p e r i e n c e s i n the d e c a d e a h e a d :  Prussian Mennonites due to the constitution...So actually, the Weimar constitution was the final point in the equalizing of Mennonites as citizens." Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi. Haendiges, "Catastrophe," p. 126. When 10 000 Russian (Ukrainian) Mennonite peasants demonstrated against government policies concerning them in 1929, the German government sent six million marks in their aid. This solidified the German nation's loyalty to the Mennonite people in the minds of that community. At the Second Mennonite World Conference in Danzig in 1930, the prevalent fear of Stalin's activity among Mennonites in Russia, coupled with this benevolent aid from the German government, led to increased national loyalties among Mennonites and sympathy for the National Socialists, and their "anti-Bolshevist" campaign. James Lichti, "The German Mennonite Response to the Dissolution of the Rhoen-Bruderhof' in ^Mennonite Life June (1991) p. 12. Haendiges, "Catastrophe," p. 126. Interview of Walter Regehr. 6 2  6 3  6 4  6 5  18  Mitten in all der Unklarheit und Ungewissheit, die iiber dem heutigen wirtschaftlichen politischen, gesellschaftlichen Leben liegt...ein[er] Weg aus der Not zu verheifien scheint, sei es ein neues Wirtschafts- oder Erziehungsprogramm, sei es eine neu auftauchende Weltanschauungsbewegung.  66  T h e r e f o r e , w h e n M e n n o n i t e s w e n t to the p o l l s i n the e a r l y 1 9 3 0 s , t h e y " v o t e d either m i d d l e o f  the road, G e r m a n N a t i o n a l or N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t . "  6 7  T h e c o n d i t i o n s w e r e i n p l a c e for the  e v e n t u a l c o - o p t i n g o f M e n n o n i t e s i n the T h i r d R e i c h .  Prussian  Mennonites  in the Third  Reich  We resist neither the emperor, the king, nor any authority in that to which they are called of God; but we are ready to obey to the death in all things that are not contrary to God and His Word. -Addressing the 'lords and princes' in "The Foundation of Christian Doctrine" —Menno Simons, 1539 Christ says, Let your light shine before men. Paul says, Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and pen>erse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15). - 'The Signs by Which Both Churches may be Known' in "Reply to Gellius Faber"— Menno Simons, 1554 W h e n A d o l f H i t l e r c a m e to p o w e r i n 1933,  he p r o p h e s i e d , in an i n t e r v i e w w i t h B i s h o p  68 B e r n i n g o f O s n a b r i i c k , that " t h e Protestants w i l l . . . r e j e c t m e . "  This realization came from  H i t l e r ' s c l e a r u n d e r s t a n d i n g , w h i c h he shared w i t h M a r t i n B o r m a n n , " t h a t N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m  a n d C h r i s t i a n i t y are i r r e c o n c i l a b l e . "  6 9  In c o m m e n t i n g o n r e l i g i o n i n G e r m a n y i n 1933  during  a c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h D a n z i g N a z i l e a d e r H e r m a n n R a u s c h i n g , H i t l e r r e f e r r e d to C h r i s t i a n i t y as  a "Jewish Christ-creed with...effeminate pity-ethics...[a] Jewish swindle.  free.  A G e r m a n C h u r c h , o r G e r m a n C h r i s t i a n i t y , is d i s t o r t i o n .  Christian.. . y o u can't be b o t h . "  7 0  It w i l l n o t m a k e u s  O n e is e i t h e r a G e r m a n o r a  In c o r r e s p o n d e n c e w i t h N a z i s u p p o r t e r D i e t r i c h E c k a r t i n  (In the midst of all the confusion and uncertainty which dominates the current economic, political and social situation....a way out of the misery does seem to be promised, either through a new social and educational program or through a newly emerging ideological movement.) Goertz, p.64. See Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," pp.41-43 for similar anti-Weimar sentiments, as well as anti-Bolshevik comments made by Mennonite pastors and laity alike. Interview of Horst Gerlach by Author, 8 June, 2000 (Weierhof, Germany). John Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches (Vancouver, 1997), p.26. "Bormann's Circular on the Relationship of National Socialism and Christianity," in Conway, p.383. John Thiesen, Mennonite and Nazi? (Kitchener, 1999). p. 28-29. 6 6  6 7  6 8  6 9  7 0  19  1924,  H i t l e r wrote, " b y their fruits ye shall k n o w them, Puritans, A n a b a p t i s t s ,  W i t n e s s e s , those are the juiciest ones.  I n e a c h o f t h e m sits t h e J e w i s h  Jehovah's  maggot."  7 1  W h a t s e e m e d o b v i o u s to the N a z i leader e l u d e d m o s t C h r i s t i a n s i n G e r m a n y , i n c l u d i n g  the M e n n o n i t e s .  Hitler's prophetic counterpart can be found in Palatinate M e n n o n i t e  Ethelbert Stauffer.  I n his 1933  p u b l i c a t i o n , Tdufertum  und  Martyrertheologie,  72  entrenched further the theology o f m a r t y r d o m chronicled b y v a n B r a g h t .  Stauffer  I n it, S t a u f f e r a r g u e s  that the M e n n o n i t e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h n o n r e s i s t a n c e w a s to b e u n d e r s t o o d i n a n a p o c a l y p t i c  sense, c l a i m i n g that " S a t a n w i l l b e o v e r c o m e o n l y b y . . . n o n r e s i s t a n t s u f f e r i n g . . . w h i c h w o u l d  serve a v e r y great p u r p o s e . . . in ushering in a n e w a e o n . "  7 3  A p p e a l i n g to e x a m p l e s o f the early  A n a b a p t i s t s , S t a u f f e r c o n c l u d e d that the A n a b a p t i s t t h e o l o g y o f m a r t y r d o m w o u l d n o t a l l o w  f o r a retreat into i n w a r d r e l i g i o n a n d p u r e s p i r i t u a l i s m , but w o u l d r e q u i r e " t h e t e s t i m o n y  of  t h e o l o g i c a l r e a l i s m t o w h i c h G o d is m o r e r e a l t h a n a n y t h i n g c a l l e d w o r l d . . . a s m a r t y r d o m i s  actually v i c t o r y o v e r the v i c t o r . "  7 4  In short, this t h e o l o g y o f m a r t y r d o m s e r v e d as a t h e o l o g y  o f history, w i t h a " f i n a l directive t o w a r d the n a r r o w path o f r e n o u n c i n g the w o r l d a n d  accepting conflicts and death, i f need b e . "  7 5  S t a u f f e r ' s t h e o l o g i c a l r e f l e c t i o n d i d not f i n d fertile s p i r i t u a l g r o u n d a m o n g the l e a d i n g  f i g u r e s i n t h e P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e Vereinigung,  work.  T h e conference's  o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n v i s - a - v i s the n e w r e g i m e w a s d r a f t e d i n a t e l e g r a m  that w a s sent to H i t l e r i n S e p t e m b e r 1933.  7 1  w h o w e r e eager to stress the antithesis to his  It r e a d :  Ernst Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism (New York, 1966), p.331, quoted in Thiesen, p.29.  that Hitler condemned pacifists, as he connected them with international socialism, 7 2  Thiesen asserts  p.29.  This article appeared in Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte 3 (1933), pp.545-598, and was translated into  English: Ethelbert Stauffer, "The Anabaptist Theology of Martyrdom," in Mennonite Quarterly Review 19 (1945), pp. 179-214. _  7  3  Stauffer, p.204.  7 4  Stauffer, p.205.  7 5  Robert Friedmann, "Theology of Martyrdom" in Bender and Smith, Volume III, p.520.  20  Die heute zu Tiegenhagen im Freistaate Danzig tagende Konferenz der Ost und Westpreussischen Mennoniten empfindet mit dieser Dankbarkeit die gewaltige Erhebung, die Gott durch Ihre Tatkraft unserem Volk geschenkt hat und geiobt auch ihrerseits freudige Mitarbeit am Aufbau unseres Vaterlandes aus den Kraften des Evangeliums heraus, getreu dem Wahlspruch unserer Vater: Einen andera Grund kann niemand legen ausser dem, der gelegt ist, welcher ist Jesus Christus. 76  Hitler replied:  Fur die mir in Direr Zuschrift zum Ausdruck gebrachte treue Gesinnung und Dire Bereitwilligkeit, am Aufbau des Deutschen Reiches mitzuarbeiten spreche ich flinen meinen aufrichtigen Dank aus. ' 7  E v i d e n t l y , b y 1933 b o t h the G e r m a n national m y t h and the M e n n o n i t e m a r t y r o l o g i c a l  u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f its l e g e n d a r y p a s t w e r e r e - m o l d e d a n d a d a p t e d t o life i n c o n t e m p o r a r y  G e r m a n y , as b o t h m a d e u s e o f " o l d m o d e l s f o r n e w p u r p o s e s . "  7 8  O n9 April,  1933, the N a z i s  laid c l a i m to the K y f f h a u s e r m o n u m e n t , the legacy, andtheReichskriegerbund.  79  Most  M e n n o n i t e s , b y this date, h a d a l i g n e d t h e m s e l v e s w i t h the N a z i m o v e m e n t largely because o f  their p e r c e i v e d v i c t i m i z a t i o n u n d e r the V e r s a i l l e s settlement,  a n d d u eto the anti-Bolshevist  sentiment e m a n a t i n g f r o m the m a r t y r d o m o f their brothers i n R u s s i a .  W i t h the loss o f G e r m a n  territory after W o r l d W a r O n e , c i r c u m s t a n c e o n c e again warranted t h e r e - e m e r g e n c e  R e d b e a r d i n o r d e r t o c o m p l e t e t h e t a s k o f u n i t i n g a l l Volksdeutsche  of  inthe G e r m a n R e i c h  -  i n c l u d i n g the M e n n o n i t e s i n h a b i t i n g P r u s s i a n territories o n the eastern side o f the " P o l i s h  (The conference of the East and West Prussian Mennonites meeting today in Tiegenhagen in the Free State of Danzig is grateful for the great uplift which God has given our people through your strength of will and also pledges its enthusiastic willingness to cooperate with the building of our Fatherland with the strength of the Gospel, true to the motto of our Fathers: on other ground can no man lay a foundation than Jesus Christ). Emil Haendiges, "Bericht uber die 4. Allgemeine Westpreussen Konferenz in Tiegenhagen am 10. September 1933" in Mennonitische Blatter October (1933), p. 101. (The content of your letter reveals true loyalty to me and your readiness for the cooperation with the construction of the German Reich, and I extend my sincere thanks). Ibid. Hobsbawm "Inventions of Traditions" p.5. The Free State of Danzig, while administered by the League of Nations, held free elections. The Nazis gained a great following in the city and its environs in the 1930s, as well as in West Prussia. See John Brown Mason, The Danzig Dilemma: A Study in Peacemaking by Compromise (Oxford, 1946), pp.61-76 The Reichskriegerbund was the successor of the LandeskriegerverbQnde. See Karl Fuhrer's "Der Deutsche Reichskriegerbund Kyffhauser 1930-1934: Politik, Ideologic und Funktion eines 'unpolitischen' Verbandes" in Milit&rgeschichtliche Mitteilungen, 2:36 (1984), pp.57-76 for an excellent account of how - the non-partisan Reichskriegerbund came to fall under the control of the National Socialists. To the 7 7  7 8  7 9  21  C o r r i d o r , " w h o s e y e a r n i n g f o r l a n d h o l d i n g reforms a n d n e w markets f o r their crops h a d been  realized under N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m . M e n n o n i t e farmers o f D a n z i g w e r e able to selltheir crops  in G e r m a n markets a n d g a i n h i g h e r prices f o r their f a r m i n g p r o d u c t s .  8 0  Many  experienced  f a r m e r s w e r e also spared b o t h the loss o f their f a r m a n d the b u r d e n o f p a y i n g h i g h rates o n  farm mortgages.  Siegfried Bartel explains:  This is the main question that I am getting: 'how could it happen, that Mennonites accepted Hitler's regime?' And I think there you have to realize that in west Prussia, at least 80% were farmers. And in tire dirty 30s, they were losing their farms left and right. And then came Hitler, and on the very first day, not one farmer had to leave their farm anymore. A commission was set up, and said, "show me your debts." The commission would analyze each farmer's situation and then say, 'you can only pay so 81  much' and the rest of the debt was wiped out by law. T h e s y n t h e s i s o f the t w o l e g e n d s c a n best b e seen i n t h e n u m e r o u s n a t i o n a l i s t letters  and articles written b y p r o f e s s i o n a l pastors o f the Prussian M e n n o n i t e c o n g r e g a t i o n s ,  w e r e p r i n t e d i n t h e Vereinigung's  n e w s p a p e r , t h e Mennonitische  b y E m i l H a e n d i g e s , p r i n t e d a n a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d Mennonit  und  Blatter.  Wehrwille  The Blatter,  8 2  which  edited  i n M a y , 1934, the  c o n c l u s i o n to w h i c h reads:  Der Christ wird dieser Pflicht gem geniigen. Denn sie ist eine christliche Pflicht... Wir miissen als Christen und Mennoniten die Waffe tragen, nicht, weil uns eine bose Obrigkeit dazu zwingt...sondern weil wir als diesseitsbejahende Christen unser Volk lieben. T h e article continues, q u o t i n g H i t l e r :  chagrin of many in the association, new 'black ravens' (SS) were circling about the monument after 9 April, 1933, and installed a memorial to those who had died in the Hitler movement. Haendiges, "Catastrophe," p. 125. Interview of Siegfried Bartel. Diether Goetz Lichdi explains that, after the Nazi seizure of power, "Die rasche unszenierte 'Brechung der Zinknechtschaft und das Erbhofgesetz - Hdhepunkte der 'Blut und Boden' Politik - kamen auch den mennonitischen Bauern zugute." (The immediate breaking of the tenancy landholding system, and the laws of land inheritance - high points of the' bloods and soil politics - also benefited Mennonite fanners), Diether Goetz Lichdi, Uber Zurich und Witmarsum nach Addis Ababa. Die Mennoniten in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Maxdorf, 1983), p. 162 As mentioned above, lay-pastoring had been superceded by university-trained pastors in the nineteenth century. Most were between 21-34 years of age, and exuded the tendency among the youth to get caught up in nationalist interpretations of God and nation. Many, naturally, adapted the Lutheran interpretation of Romans 13, and submitted the church to the state. Diether Goetz Lichdi,. "Romer 13 und das Staatsverstadnis der Mennoniten um 1933" in Mennonitische Geschichtsblatter 32 (1980), pp.77-78. 8 0 81  1  82  22  Heldische T u g e n d e n sind die Erhaltungskraft unseres V d l k e s . T h e June,  83  1934 edition expounded o n the n e w constitution o f the Prussian M e n n o n i t e church:  In der neuen Verfassung, die sich die Vereinigung der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden 84 a m 11. Juni 1934 gegeben hat, ist das Prinzip der Wehrlosigkeit aufgegeben T h e s e unsolicited attempts to align the M e n n o n i t e s positively w i t h the N a t i o n a l Socialist r e g i m e , i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t o n o t e , w e r e p r i n t e d before t h e a n n o u n c e m e n t  o f G e r m a n plans for  rearmament and universal conscription in 1935. P e r h a p s the e p i s o d e that m o s t effectively revealed the attitudes o f the M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y t o w a r d t h e i r h i s t o r y a n d t h e n e w r e g i m e w a s f o u n d i n t h e Vereinigung's  response  to t h e d i s s o l u t i o n o f a H u t t e r i t e c o l o n y , a n d d e p o r t a t i o n o f its m e m b e r s f r o m G e r m a n y i n 1936.  A f t e r a S w i s s n e w s p a p e r , t h e Basler  Mennoniten  ausgewiesenf  M e n n o n i t e Verbandjoined  Nachrichten,  printed a narticle entitled  t h e h e a d p a s t o r s o f t h e Vereinigung i n p u b l i s h i n g "eine notwendige  "Deutsche  a n d the south G e r m a n  Berichtigung."  T h e article  r e v e a l e d the insecurity that the M e n n o n i t e s h a d d e v e l o p e d t h r o u g h centuries o f m a r g i n a l i z a t i o n a n d deportation i n E u r o p e , a n d their desire t o differentiate a n d disassociate themselves f r o m the Hutterites, w h o h a d fallen into disrepute w i t h the N a z i s f o r their " B o l s h e v i k - l i k e " c o m m u n a l l i v i n g a n d their nonresistant stance.  T h e article b o l d l y stated:  D i e Bruderhofer gehorten weder der Vereinigung der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden n o c h einem anderen V e r b a n d unserer deutschen mennonitischen F r e i k i r c h e a n .  85  (The Christian would agree to tins duty, for it is a Christian duty... we must as Christians and Mennonites take arms, not because a wicked authority forces us to... but as Christians living in the world we love the German people [and quotes Hitler]: heroic virtue is the strong preservation of our people). Dirk Cattepoel, "Mennonit und Wehrwille" mMennonitische Blatter, May (1934), p.44. 8 4  (Under the new conditions, as of 11 June, 1934, the German Mennonite Conferences have given up the  principle of nonresistance). Neff, C , Haendiges, E . , Braun, A , "Vereinigung der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden: Eine notwendige Berichtigung" mMennonitische Blatter, June (1937), p.6. 8 5  (The Bruderhofer belonged neither to the Union of German Mennonites, nor to any other organization of  our German Mennonite Free Church). Neff, Haendiges and Braun, p.72. Response," pp. 10-17.  Also, see Lichti, "The Mennonite  23  W h i l e c o m p l y i n g w i t h the n e w regime, the M e n n o n i t e s d i d display great concern  the preservation o f their .institutions.  G e n e r a l l y , t h e Vereinigung  over  w a s pleased with the official  g o v e r n m e n t endorsement o f "positive Christianity," o n l y o p p o s i n g the o f f i c i a l attempts to  i m p o s e t h e Gleichschaltung  principle o n all G e r m a n Churches under  M u l l e r , w h o m H i t l e r appointed i n 1933.  ReichsbischofLudw'ig  In A u g u s t , 1933, D a n z i g pastor E r i c h G d t t n e r  e x p r e s s e d t h e M e n n o n i t e s t a n c e v i s - a - v i s t h e Deutsche  Christen  - a sect o f nationalist,  racialist Protestants that o r i g i n a l l y e m e r g e d i n T h u r i n g i a a n d B e r l i n i n t h e late 1920s.  While  not w a n t i n g to agitate the g r o u p , w h i c h o r i g i n a l l y f o u n d f a v o r w i t h the N a z i s , the M e n n o n i t e s  w e r e n o t , at t h e s a m e t i m e , w i l l i n g t o t h r o w t h e i r l o t i n w i t h t h e m .  l e c t u r e g i v e n b y Deutsche  Dritten  Reich zur Dritten  Christen  Kirche,"  pastor K u p t s c h ( o f R i e s e n b u r g , Prussia) entitled  w a s p r i n t e d i n t h e Blatter  section h i g h l i g h t e d i n the m i d d l e o f the article read:  Freikirchentum!  Hande  M e n n o n i t e response to a  weg vom Deutschen  "Vom  in September, 1933. A bold  "Hande  weg  Mennonitentum."  86  vom  Deutschen  Similarly, E m i l Haendiges  r e i n f o r c e d t h e M e n n o n i t e s t a n c e a g a i n s t t h e m o v e m e n t a f t e r Deutsche  Christen  member  R e i n h o l d K r a u s e ' s s c a n d a l o u s s e r m o n at t h e B e r l i n S p o r t s p a l a c e i n 1 9 3 3 , i n w h i c h K r a u s e  attacked the O l d Testament a n dthe J e w i s h roots o f C h r i s t i a n i t y .  8 7  W h i l e w a n t i n g to adapt to  p r e s e n t t r e n d s i n c o o r d i n a t i o n o f i n s t i t u t i o n s - m i n u s t h e c r e a t i o n o f a Reichskirche  - the  (Hands off our German free-church tradition; hands off our German Mennonite tradition). Emil Haendiges, "Zur Kirchenfrage der Mennoniten" in Mennonitische Blatter, September (1933), p.86. This was in response to Kuptsch's statement that, "Die verschiedenen Sekten und Kirchengemeinschaften muBen beseitigt werden, um Platz fur die Glaubensgemeinschaft zu erhalten!" (Different sects and church communities must be eliminated in order to make room for the for the development of the belief community) printed in the Elbinger Zeitung, 11 August, 1933. Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third 7?e/'c//. (Chapel Hill, 1996), p. 17. Emil Haendiges wrote: "Wie berechtigt unsere Zuruckhaltung gegeniiber den Deutsche Christen gewesen ist, haben die traurigen Vorgange in der von den Deutsche Christen abgehaltenen Versammlung im Sportpalast zu Berlin am 13/11/33 in erschreckender Weise offenbart. Es bleibt betrublich, wie es zu solchen Kundgebungen uberhaupt hat kommen konnen." (We restrained ourselves in our relations with the _ German Christians, up to their sad and frightening meeting in the sport palace in Berlin on 13/11/33. It 8 7  24  Vereinigung  Mennonitische t h e Verband's  p r o p o s e d the notion o f uniting all G e r m a n M e n n o n i t e s i nthe  Gemeindekirche.  ,,u  Gemeindeblatt  A f t e r p a s t o r s d r a f t e d a "Grofie Bekenntnis,"  der Mennoniten  p a r t i c u l a r l y a s t h e m o r e c o n s e r v a t i v e Verband theological v i e w s o f the  "Deutsche  in 1934,  8 9  the enterprise ultimately failed,  found significant incongruity w i t h the  Vereinigung.  T h e s e t h e o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s , h o w e v e r , d i d n o t h i n d e r t h e Vereinigung's protect their c h e r i s h e d free c h u r c h traditions. Confessing C h u r c h  9 0  published in  mandate to  L i k e their G e r m a n Protestant brethren i n the  - w h o had established themselves solely i n opposition to the theological  d i s t o r t i o n s o f t h e Deutsche  Christen  a n d N a z i i n t e n t i o n s o f a Gleichschaltung  o fChristian  churches - the Prussian Mennonites have been wrongly credited with resisting the Nazis. Hans-Jiirgen G o e r t z explains.  Der Widerstand gegen die Deutschen Christen nahrte in den westpreussischen Mennoniten offensichtlich die Illusion, dem Erbe der Vater, der Trennung von Kirche und Staate, auch unter den Bedingungen des nationalsozialistischen Regimes treu bleiben zu konnen, ohne 91  mit diesem zu kollidieren. H o r s t G e r l a c h a d d s that, w h i l e the M e n n o n i t e s s h a r e d s i m i l a r d o c t r i n a l c o n c e r n s w i t h t h e  C o n f e s s i n g C h u r c h , they actually e n d e d u p " f i g h t i n g the Protestant C h u r c h , [rather than] the  remains troublesome that they are able to hold these demonstrations.) Emil Haendiges, "Zur Kirchenfrage der Mennoniten" in Mennonitische Blatter, December (1933), p . l 14. Hans-Jiirgen Goertz, "Nationale Erhebung und religioser Niedergang" in Mennonitische Geschichtsblatter 26 (1974), p,68. The union did not take place, according to Ernst Crous, due to theological disagreements between the Vereinigung and the Verband. Some congregations were rationalist, others Pietist. Crous "Vereinigung" in Bender and Smith, Volume IV, p.812. Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume II, p. 486. 8 8  See "Die bevorstehende Vereinigung aller Mennonitengemeinden im Deutschen Reich" in Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten, February (1934), pp. 12-13. The Bekennende Kirche, led by Karl Barth and Martin Niemoller, drafted the six-point Barmen Declaration in 1934. The Confessing Church and the Declaration were created in order to counter the new theological distortions of the Deutsche Christen through upholding traditional Protestant interpretations of the Bible. See Hubert Locke (ed.) The Church Confronts the Nazi: Barmen Then and Now (New York, 1984), pp. 19-25. Mennonite ministers Crous, Haendiges, Hege, Fellmann and Quiring all made contact with the Confessing Church. Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," pp.85-87. 8 9  9 0  (The resistance against the German Christians fed the illusion, that the West Prussian Mennonite legacy of separation of church and state was faithfully maintained under the National Socialist regime).Goertz, p.74. 91  25  N a z i s , " as t h e i r p o l i t i c a l v i e w s w e r e m u c h m o r e c o n s e r v a t i v e  others."  9 2  " t h a n those o f B a r t h a n d the  E s s e n t i a l l y , b o t h G o e r t z a n d G e r l a c h assert that the M e n n o n i t e s f a i l e d to m a i n t a i n  their traditional t w o - k i n g d o m theology, a n d f o u n d themselves  a legitimate free church, positioning themselves  between the established  Landeskirchen  a n d the  i n a c o m p r o m i s i n g s i t u a t i o n as  politically and theologically  Deutsche Christen -  somewhere  w h i c h , ironically, served  to w o r s e n t h e v e r y p r o b l e m o f i s o l a t i o n t h e y d e s i r e d to lessen.  In the a t t e m p t s to strengthen the sense o f c o m m u n i t y , M e n n o n i t e s e s t a b l i s h e d a  Deutscher Mennonitentag,  a day o n w h i c h Mennonites nation-wide w o u l d gather annually,  and d i d so during 1935-1940.  9 3  L i k e their G e r m a n neighbors, M e n n o n i t e s c o n s i d e r e d  as a c e n t r a l c o m p o n e n t o f b o t h c o m m u n i t y a n d n a t i o n .  G r o w i n g out o f youth  established i n the 1920s, M e n n o n i t e y o u t h groups, called the  Jugendwart,  youth  groups  were  established  u n d e r the l e a d e r s h i p o f E r n s t F e l l m a n n i n 1935 i n o r d e r to c o u n t e r the i n f l u e n c e o f the H i t l e r  Youth on young people  9 4  - a n d f o r g o o d r e a s o n , as H i t l e r h e l d v i e w s s u c h as t h o s e h e  expressed i n 1941: "I c a n ' t break the C h u r c h over [ m y ] knee.  gangrenous  newspaper,  l i m b . . . b u t the healthy y o u t h b e l o n g to u s . "  Die Mennonitische Jugendwarte,  9 5  The  It h a s t o b e l e f t t o r o t l i k e a  Jugendwart  in w h i c h the M e n n o n i t e y o u t h  printed reserved criticisms o f political a n d social life in G e r m a n y .  reaction to the t h e o l o g y o f the  published a  Deutsche Christen,  9 6  L i k e the  commonly  Vereinigung's  F e l l m a n n w a s p r i m a r i l y c o n c e r n e d that the  Interview of Horst Gerlach. 9 3  Diether Goetz Lichdi, "National Socialism," in Cornelius Dyck and Dennis Martin {eds.) Mennonite  Encyclopedia (Scottsdale, 1990), Volume V , p.617. 9 4  Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," P-168.  9 5  Adolf Hitler, Table Talk A. Bullock (ed.) (London, 1953), entry for 13 December 1941, in Conway, p. 15.  9 6  Diether Goetz Lichdi explains: "Die M J W (Mennonitische Jugendwart) beschaftigt sich 1932 bis 1935  intensiv mitden Zetifragen. Die Sprache ist ruhig und massvoll, (During 1932-1935, die M J W was intensively occupied with the questions of the day. The language was calm and moderate), "Dritten Reich," p.36. Also, a group of young adults formed a Rundbrief-Gemeinschaft which was used to question and discuss issues of faith, nonresistance and National Socialist ideology (which was discontinued by the Gestapo in 1937).  26  M e n n o n i t e y o u t h w o u l d n o t b e l e d a s t r a y b y t h e "Irrungen  und  Wirrungen  encouraged them to remain strong i n the struggle f o r "right b e l i e f . "  Mennonites having successfully  Gleichschaltung  9 7  der Zeif  Therefore, with the  staved o f f association w i t h the Hutterites, the  o f the G e r m a n churches a n d the failed attempt to coordinate all M e n n o n i t e  churches in o n e denomination, they accomplished what James L i c h t i has rightly  as t h e p r i m a r y g o a l o f t h e m a j o r i t y :  institutional  and  autonomy."  " [ t o resist] g o v e r n m e n t c o o r d i n a t i o n a n d [to  emphasized  maintain]  9 8  D u r i n g 1 9 3 3 - 1 9 4 5 , M e n n o n i t e c o n g r e g a t i o n a l l i f e c o n t i n u e d i n its a c c u s t o m e d  manner  9 9  a n d e n j o y e d the toleration o f the N a t i o n a l Socialist g o v e r n m e n t .  A r e a s o n f o r this  can b e attributed to the M e n n o n i t e s h a v i n g f o u n d f a v o r i n the eyes o f A d o l f H i t l e r a n d  Reichsfuhrer  Landrat  o f the S S H e i n r i c h H i m m l e r .  Walter Neufeldt, Hitler exclaimed:  M e n n o n i t e traits as e x a m p l e s ! "  1 0 0  H o r s t G e r l a c h e x p l a i n s that, after m e e t i n g  with  "Future founders o f religions should take  H i m m l e r was similarly impressed with the Mennonites, and  actually brought greetings to B e n j a m i n U n r u h i n Prussia f r o m the M e n n o n i t e s he h a d visited  while in former Russian territories.  1 0 1  Horst Gerlach concludes:  "basically i f most o f those  Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p.36. Lichti, "Mennonite Response," p. 16. "Worship services were held with nearly full attendance, communion was celebrated; younger sisters and brothers were taken in to the congregation through baptism and deacons, preachers and elders were elected and consecrated for their respective tasks." Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," pp. 114-117. Horst Gerlach, "The Final Years of Mennonites in East and West Prussia 1943-45" in Mennonite Quarterly Review April (1992), p.240. After his visit to Ukraine in 1942, Himmler told Unruh:'ich bin in der Ukraine gewesen und habe mir die Leute dort angesehen. Ihre Mennoniten jedoch sind die Besten." (I was in the Ukraine and visited the people there. Their Mennonites, however, were the best ones). Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 141. Lichdi asserts: "es wird deutlich daft Benjamin Unruh als Vertreter der russlandischen Gemeinden auftrat, aber zugleich damit auch die Anliegen der Gemeinden im Reich vertreten hat" (it becomes clear that Benjamin Unrau served as deputy of the Russian community, but at the same time thereby also served as their representative to the German Reich), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 141. Unruh saw Hitler as having had a —positive relationship with Germany. In 1938, he stated that Hitler was "als ein deutscher Wilhelm von Oranien, Wilhelm Tell und als ein Washington erscheinen." (Hitler appeared as a German William of Orange, William Tell and as a Washington), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 141. Himmler had a part in 9 7  9 8  9 9  1 0 0  101  27  w h o w e r e i n h i g h e r p o s i t i o n s w e r e o n t h e i r s i d e , it i s l o g i c a l t h a t t h e y d i d n o t s u f f e r 109  persecution."  r  O f f i c i a l l y , the Prussian M e n n o n i t e s encouraged positive relations w i t h the R e i c h  g o v e r n m e n t , a n d o f f i c i a l l y expressed their support f o r the regime.  M e n n o n i t e C o n f e r e n c e d e c l a r e d t h a t "Die Konferenz Hauches  gegen die Politik  with N a z i racial politics.  unseres Fiihrers  In 1940, the W e s t Prussian  enthdlt."  wird nichts tun, was den Anschein  103  eines  Some, however, were uncomfortable  L a d e k o p p ' s M e n n o n i t e minister, G e r h a r d Thiessen, preached a  s e r m o n that w a s v e r y c r i t i c a l o f the g o v e r n m e n t i n 193 7 .  o f t h e s o u t h G e r m a n M e n n o n i t e Verband,  1 0 4  Similarly, Christian Neff,  leader  h a d b e c a m e w a r y o f the N a z i r e g i m e b y 1937,  d e c l a r i n g i n a l e t t e r t o E m i l H a e n d i g e s : "Ich sehe sehr skeptisch  m i n i s t e r , E r i c h G o t t n e r , c o n s i d e r e d N a z i r a c i s m a s "ddmonisch"  i06  in die Zukunft"  i05  Danzig's  a n d w a r n e d against the  antisemitic teaching o f the N a z i s .  M o s t M e n n o n i t e s d i d n o t share the N a z i s ' antisemitic i d e o l o g y a n d e n j o y e d p o s i t i v e  relationships w i t h the Jews o f W e s t Prussia, w h o were primarily doctors, lawyers, a n d  merchants.  M a n y M e n n o n i t e s were deeply concerned over the plight o f the J e w s i n G e r m a n y ,  w e r e a l a r m e d w h e n N a z i r a c i s m turned violent, a n d m a d e c o n s i d e r a b l e efforts t o assist J e w i s h  people wherever possible.  vielen Mennoniten  D i e t h e r G o e t z L i c h d i a s s e r t s t h a t "die Reichskristallnacht  die Augen  geqffhet"  hat  Indeed, there are m a n y e x a m p l e s o f the outrage  supplying the Ukrainian Mennonites with the means to flee their homes as the Russian army encroached on their homeland in 1943-1944. See Frank Epp, Mennonite Exodus (Altona, 1962). Gerlach, "Final Years," p.241 (The conference will not do anything that gives even the faintest appearance of opposition to the policy of our leader), Goertz, p. 84. Lichdi, "Addis Ababa," p. 164. (I am very skeptical about the future), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," P-97. Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p.98. Gottner was already concerned about the political changes in Germany in — 1932. See Gottner, "Die volkische Religiositat in der Gegenwart" Mennonitische Blatter, May (1932), p. 12. (Kristallnacht opened die eyes of Mennonites), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 153. 1 0 2 1 0 3  1 0 4 1 0 5  1 0 6  1 0 7  28  that M e n n o n i t e s felt c o n c e r n i n g the events o f 9 N o v e m b e r , 1938.  M a n y h a d established g o o d  w o r k i n g relations w i t h the Jews, a n dw e r e angered b y their mistreatment.  M e n n o n i t e s h e l p e d the Jews, albeit s o m e m o r e than others.  b e c o m e Biirgermeister o f A l b i s h e i m i n 1938.  L i c h d i asserts that  A d o l f H a h n , f o r example, had just  W h e n h e attempted t o stop the l o o t i n g a n d  destruction o f J e w i s h businesses that night, the racist thugs t u r n e d to h i m a n d b e l l o w e d :  "Much, dafi du heimkommst, sonst kommen wir noch zu dir."  108  H a h n returned home, and  r  I  f o u n d t w o J e w i s h w o m e n w h o h a d c o m e to h i m f o r protection f r o m the angry m o b .  a h o m e f o r them, a n d stationed a n armed g u a r d outside o f their h o m e f o r p r o t e c t i o n .  A m o n g m a n y o t h e r s i m i l a r a c c o u n t s is t h a t o f  Landrat  H e found  1 0 9  Walter N e u f e l d t w h o , like m a n y  Prussian M e n n o n i t e s , acquired Jewish inmates f r o m Stutthof concentration c a m p to w o r k o n  his f a r m .  A c c o r d i n g to H o r s t G e r l a c h , these prisoners w e r e able to w o r k w i t h o u t guards, a n d  w e r e a l l o w e d t o eat d i n n e r s p r o v i d e d b y t h e i r M e n n o n i t e h o s t s .  traditional Protestant t h e o l o g y pertaining to the J e w s ,  resistance to the N a z i s ' antisemitic m e a s u r e s ,  1 1 2  1 1 1  1 1 0  W h i l e not deviating  from  o r p r o v i d i n g significant protest o r  the M e n n o n i t e s d i d offer assistance to the  (You had better return home, or we will come to your house!), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 153. See Diether Goetz Lichdi "Dritten Reich" pp. 149-158 for numerous examples of Mennonite people that abhorred the ill-treatment of Jews during the Nazi era. See Diether Goetz Lichdi "Dritten Reich" pp.240-246 for numerous examples of Mennonites who hosted Jewish workers that were imprisoned in Stutthof. The Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten printed theological reflections on the Jews during 1933-1937. In March, 1937, the article "Das auserwahlte Volk" appeared in which the author claimed: "Die Juden sind jetzt in keiner Weise mehr das 'auserwahlte Volk.' Gott hat sie einst fur einen ganz bestimmten geschichtlichen Beruf auserwahlt. Aber dieser Beruf ist langst erfullt." (The Jews are no longer the chosen race of God. At one time, God had chosen them for a specific historical purpose. But that purpose has long since been fulfilled), Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten, March (1937), p.23. 1 0 9  1 1 0  111  119  Hans-Jurgen Goertz explains how the Mennonites shared very similar concerns with the Confessing Church which did effectively address Nazi terrorization: "Wie schwierig es war, gegen die Verfolgungen im eigenen Lande zu protestieren, zeigt die zaghafte Zuriickhaltung der Bekennenden Kirche, die es offiziel kaum zu einem Protest gegen die Verfolgung von Juden, Soczialdemokraten und Kommunisten durch das Nazi-Regime brachte — (How difficult it was to protest against persecution in one's own country, the timid restraint of the Confessing Church offered no protest against the persecution of Jews, the social democrats and the communists), Goertz, p. 76.  29  Jews.  F o r the m o s t part, h o w e v e r , they m a i n t a i n e d their f o c u s o n s u r v i v i n g -  individually and communally -  both  i n the T h i r d R e i c h .  A f t e r G e r m a n r e m i l i t a r i z a t i o n a n d the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f u n i v e r s a l c o n s c r i p t i o n i n  1935,  the M e n n o n i t e s o f P r u s s i a o n c e a g a i n faced the c h a l l e n g e s o f s e r v i n g i n the  military.  N a z i administrator Reinhard H e y d r i c h recognized an inherent incompatibility  b e t w e e n M e n n o n i t i s m a n d N a z i i d e o l o g y , and q u e s t i o n e d the a b i l i t y o f the M e n n o n i t e s to  serve as g o o d  Weltanschauungskriegern.  A w a k e n i n g old wounds o f insecurity  the M e n n o n i t e p e o p l e , H e y d r i c h stated that, b e c a u s e o f t h e i r f o c u s o n t h e  des Evangeliums"  w i t h their  than f o c u s i n g o n the G e r m a n  "Gemeinschaft  "pazifistische und eidesgegenerische Einstellung" "Volksgemeinschaff  -  among  -  rather  "gleichzeitig Angehdrige der SS-Sippengemeinschaft."  M e n n o n i t e s c o u l d not be  113  C o n t r a r y to H e y d r i c h ' s  accurate, yet outdated insights, s o m e M e n n o n i t e s d i d j o i n the S S  b o d i e d M e n n o n i t e m a n o f draft age in all o f G e r m a n y refused  1 1 4  and not one able-  conscription.  A s d i s c u s s e d above, this w a s m a d e possible t h r o u g h the g r a d u a l p r o c e s s e s o f  a s s i m i l a t i o n into P r u s s i a n life.  b o o k l e t i n 1938,  titled  Pastor K r a e m e r o f D a n z i g published a timely and telling  "Wir und unsere Volksgemeinschaft."  I n it, K r a e m e r  emphasized:  Der Bergpredigt... [ist fur die] Familie und gegenuber christlich Gesinnten geboten sein; eine Regel fur die Reiche dieser Welt, ihre Politik, ihre Selbstbehauptung ist es nicht. and stressed:  Das alte Volkslied behalt sein Recht, daC der Frommste nicht im Frieden bleiben kann, wenn es dem bosen Nachbarn nicht gefallL 115  ("Community of the gospel" with their "pacifist and oath-opposing position" - rather than focusing on the German "people's community" - Mennonites were "not at the same able to be members of the SS family). Friedrich Zipfel, Kirchenkampfin Deutschland 1933-1945 (Berlin, 1965) p.206. Goertz, p. 62. (The sermon on the mount [is for] the family and Christian-minded people and not for kingdoms and — their politics and self-assertion in this world [and stressed that] the old song is still true that the pious cannot remain in peace if a hostile neighbor is not willing). Kraemer, Wir und Unsere Volksgemeinschaft (Crefeld, 1938) p. 18. 1 1 3  1 , 4  1 1 5  30  F u e l l i n g these shifts i n the traditional nonresistant stance a m o n g M e n n o n i t e s w a s their  desire, like that o f M e n n o S i m o n s , to sever their association w i t h the l e g a c y o f the M u n s t e r  uprising.  A c c o r d i n g to H o r s t G e r l a c h , this association c o n t i n u e d to a p p e a r i n e n c y c l o p e d i a s  a n d i n G e r m a n u n i v e r s i t y c u r r i c u l a . " M y u n c l e w a s t o l d that the M e n n o n i t e s w e r e v e r y  p e c u l i a r , " G e r l a c h recalls. " [ L a n d ] C h u r c h papers p u b l i s h e d derogatory articles about the  M e n n o n i t e s , associating t h e m w i t h the M u n s t e r i t e s , " w h i c h frustrated his u n c l e a n d E m i l  Haendiges.  T h e r e f o r e , M e n n o n i t e s shared a desire to rehabilitate the  1 1 6  and to f e n d o f f the association o f M e n n o n i t e s with  "die Feigen"  Schwdrmer  legacy,  w h o were, traditionally,  "vaterlandlos"  111  W i t h the M e n n o n i t e s h a v i n g fully assimilated into G e r m a n society a n d culture, and  w i t h the a b a n d o n m e n t o f n o n r e s i s t a n c e , the last v e s t i g e o f t r a d i t i o n a l M e n n o n i t e f a i t h -  issue o f the oath -  r e m a i n e d to be legally resolved.  the  T h i s d i d i n d e e d t a k e p l a c e , as t h e W a r  M i n i s t r y , i n line w i t h traditional H o h e n z o l l e r n agreements, g r a n t e d the M e n n o n i t e s the  privilege o f saying  "Ich gelobe"  instead o f  "Ich schwdre"  after s i g n i n g a d e s i g n a t e d f o r m to 118  the effect, a n d a c c e p t e d a h a n d s h a k e i n l i e u o f s w e a r i n g the oath (see F i g u r e s 2 a a n d 2b).  W i t h their m a i n c o n c e r n s alleviated, the M e n n o n i t e s j o i n e d the  Luftwaffe  in great numbers.  The  Blatter  Wehrmacht  and  c o n t i n u e d to print articles e x t o l l i n g the r e g i m e a n d  praising G o d for G e r m a n political and military victories.  g i v e n u p their p o s i t i o n o f n o n r e s i s t a n c e i n 1934.  1 1 6  Interview of Horst Gerlach.  1 , 7  Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p.65.  1 1 8  ("I pledge/vow" instead of "I swear"). Goertz, p.77.  The  A s seen above, the M e n n o n i t e s had  Blatter  celebrated the  Anschlufi  See Figures 2a and 2b for copies of the original  form used by the East and West Prussian Mennonite communities. This form made it possible for Mennonite men of draft age to sign up for this privilege prior to their arrival at the recruitment office. - A l s o , see Haendiges, "Catastrophe," p. 126.  Ernst Helmreich explains how Martin Bormann was more  concerned about the issue of the oath, and did not resolve his disapproval of the exemption until Helmreich, p. 3 82.  of  1938.  31  Austria in its April 1938 edition and, in March 1939, ran an article encouraging Mennonites to " L a y their life down for their friends." The newspaper also dutifully commemorated Hitler's fiftieth birthday with an article in M a y , 1939.  Horst Penner explains the development of a  historical sentiment in Prussia, connecting the heroes of the Teutonic Knights in the  Jungdeutschen Orden. He explains: diese spaten Nachfahren des Ordens hatten nur ein Ziel: Die Rtickkehr ins deutsche Vaterland. In Aufinarschen in iliren graugriinen Windjacken warben sie fur ihr Ziel.. .da sah man audi manches 119  mennonitische Gesicht unter den Marschierern. Marianne Regehr, who lived in Ladekopp as a girl in 1939, recalls how the Mennonites longed to be re-united with Germany, and spoke of Heim  ins Reich. " Y o u are  willing to take the good with the bad," she reflects, "especially when you want something bad enough." 1939, the  1 2 0  After war broke out, and Danzig was reunited with Germany in September,  Blatter, accompanied with a suitable theological lesson on Romans 13, printed a  prayer o f thanks for " G o d ' s victory" in having eliminated the "unnatural border" separating  the Volksdeutsche: Unsagbar Schweres haben unsere deutschen Volksgruppen unter dem polnischen Joch wahrend zwanzigjahriger Fremdherrschaft erduldet Das Schwerste zuletzt. Da half ihnen Gott, der Herr, durch die Hand unseres Fuhrers und machte sie frei. Wir danken unserm Fuhrer fur seine Befreiungstat! 121  G o d was also credited for the German victory over France and, prophetically, amazement was expressed at how the next generation of Germans would wonder at the  (these late descendants of the Teutonic Order had only one target: Returning to the German Fatherland. They marched around in their grey-green coats and recruited for their movement One could also find some Mennonite faces amongst those that marched). Penner, "Ost-west" p. 107. Marianne Regehr, a young girl at the time, mentioned that the common sentiment among Prussians, including the Mennonites, was to be reunited with the Fatherland, as they considered their home to be in Germany, and their goal as Heim ins Reich. Interview of Marianne Regehr by Author, 26 July, 1999 (Winnipeg, MB). (Our German ethnic communities suffered unspeakable difficulties under the Polish yoke during twenty years of foreign dominatioa The worst at the very end. Then God, our Lord, helped them through the — hand of our Fuhrer and set them free. We thank our Fuhrer for his feat of liberation!) Emil Haendiges, "Zur Heimkehr der bestreiten Volksgenossen ins Reich" in Mennonitische Blatter October/November (1939), p.65. 119  120  121  32  victories  o f the  government  German army.  advertisements  By  aimed  1941,  at  M e n n o n i t e newspapers  recruiting support  c o n t i n u e d to credit G o d f o r G e r m a n victories i n the  W h i l e the  Vereinigung  war  regularly  effort,  a n d the  field.  find,  but s o m e e x a m p l e s o f n o n c o m p l i a n c e  C h r i s t i a n N e f f , f o r e x a m p l e , r e - k i n d l e d h i s s k e p t i c a l o u t l o o k first e x p r e s s e d  Gemeindeblatt  Blatter  E x a m p l e s o f resistance o r o p e n critical o p p o s i t i o n to the  r e g i m e a m o n g the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s are h a r d to  and earned the  printing  o f f i c i a l l y e x t o l l e d the regime a n d the w a r , not all M e n n o n i t e s  in P r u s s i a shared in the excitement.  d o exist.  f o r the  were  der Mennoniten  o n t h e w a r t h a t w a s r a g i n g at t h e t i m e .  1 2 2  1937,  a f o r c e d d i s c o n t i n u a t i o n o f p u b l i c a t i o n a f t e r it  printed his w e l l - k n o w n anti-war C h r i s t m a s s e r m o n i n January,  h o w e v e r , that N e f f s s o n w a s d r a f t e d in 1941,  in  1941.  It s h o u l d b e n o t e d ,  w h i c h m a y have i n f l u e n c e d the p a s t o r ' s v i e w s  In a d d i t i o n to the authorities f i n d i n g little s u c c e s s  after e n c o u r a g i n g i n d i v i d u a l s to w i t h d r a w their m e m b e r s h i p  from  the c h u r c h e s i n G e r m a n y ,  1 2 3  H e r m a n n E p p , a pastor i n W e s t P r u s s i a , w a s sent to a c o n c e n t r a t i o n c a m p f o r his  n o n c o m p l i a n c e w i t h the g o v e r n m e n t .  1 2 4  D i e t h e r G o e t z L i c h d i e x p l a i n s that m a n y M e n n o n i t e s  f o l l o w e d i n the w a y s o f their forefathers w h o c h o s e alternative service after b e i n g drafted into  the G e r m a n a r m e d f o r c e s d u r i n g the First W o r l d W a r :  Es sind zahlreiche Einzelfalle bekannt, die die Meinung unterstreichen, daB vielen Mennoniten im Feld die alte Wehrlosigkeit bewuBt war und daB sie versuchten, ihr Gewissen rein zu erhalten.  Diether Goetz Lichdi questioned Neff s apparent leaning toward nonresistance, asserting that he was more concerned over the German loss of 13 000 young men in the French campaign, and 18 000 in the Polish campaign. Neff realized that his own son, who was drafted in 1941, could be among the next to die in battle. This indeed came to pass, as his son was killed in action in 1944. Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi. From 1937 on, "those who were Party members were urged to withdraw from the church, although on the whole and particularly in comparison with conditions in the Catholic and Protestant Church, this attempt was without any success. Despite the most severe pressure, only ten out of 500 members withdrew from our [Mennonite] church in Crefeld." Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi. Horst Penner explains how —Cornelius Janssen, a government official in the GrofSes Werder (1939-42) did not leave his church after being pressured to do so. Penner, "Ost-west" p. 137. Interview with Siegfried Bartel. 123  124  33  Sie wollten nicht auf Menschen schieBen. Deshalb meldeten sich viele zu den Sanitatsabteilungen oder den technischen Diensten...[oder] Kraftfahrer, Feldkiichenfahrer, usw. 125  It i s c l e a r t h a t t h e M e n n o n i t e s h a d s u c c e e d e d i n a c h i e v i n g g o o d s t a n d i n g i n t h e G e r m a n R e i c h .  M o r e than tolerated, they were a l l o w e d to maintain a personal M e n n o n i t i s m , and were  accommodated  i n areas o f m i l d contention.  B o t h the N a z i g o v e r n m e n t a n d the M e n n o n i t e s  e y e d e a c h o t h e r c a u t i o u s l y y e t r e s p e c t f u l l y , a n d c h o s e to disagree s i l e n t l y o n points that  mattered little t o the o v e r a l l g o a l s o f e a c h respective g r o u p .  T h e G e r m a n a n d M e n n o n i t e myths, synthesized a m o n g the M e n n o n i t e m e n i n the  reality o f war, served in bolstering enthusiasm f o r o n e final o f f e n s i v e m i l i t a r y c a m p a i g n i n  1941-1942, the suitably n a m e d O p e r a t i o n Barbarossa.  H o r s t G e r l a c h r e c a l l e d h o w , at t h e  outset o f t h e battle, h i s s c h o o l teacher h a d a p p l i e d the a p o c a l y p t i c a c c o u n t i n the b i b l i c a l b o o k  o f R e v e l a t i o n to the i m p e n d i n g final victory o f the G e r m a n s in the S e c o n d W o r l d  Similarly, the  Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten  War.  1 2 6  b e g a n i n the early 1 9 4 0 s to print articles w i t h  eschatological a n d apocalyptic overtones pointing to a G e r m a n t r i u m p h .  A s is w e l l k n o w n , reality p r o v e d quite the opposite.  1 2 7  O n 2 0 O c t o b e r , 1944, the R e d  A r m y t o o k N e m m e r s d o r f in East Prussia, a n d c o m m i t t e d heinous crimes against the civilian  population there.  1 2 8  T h e stories a n d fear o f s i m i l a r treatment r e a c h e d the M e n n o n i t e s i n W e s t  P r u s s i a a n d D a n z i g , as d i d t h e R e d A r m y i n J a n u a r y  1945.  W h i l e the majority o f Mennonites  m a n a g e d to escape w i t h their lives, those unable to escape v i a ships i n the D a n z i g harbor w e r e  subject to great mistreatment f r o m p i l l a g i n g , rape a n d m u r d e r to b e i n g t a k e n a w a y o n trains  (Many Mennonite men at the front desired to maintain the old defenseless position, and to keep their conscience pure in this regard. They did not want to shoot people. They would choose positions as medics, technical personnel, chauffeurs, army kitchen drivers, etc.). Lichdi asserts that most who chose these positions were of the more pietistic, or Flemish men that originally emigrated to West Prussia, Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 136. Interview of Horst Gerlach. Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p.98. See E.G. Lass, Die Flucht: Ostpreussen 1944-1945 (Bad Neuheim, 1964). 125  126 127  128  34  destined f o r w o r k c a m p s i n the G u l a g .  1 2 9  In the w a k e o f defeat,  "Taten und Helden"  was  re  a p p r o p r i a t e d to t h o s e w h o suffered f o r their faith, w h i l e the soldiers to w h o m the essay w a s  addressed i n 1938  -  after all o f the v i o l e n c e they m e t e d out a n d sacrifices t h e y  encountered  w e r e m a r g i n a l i z e d as g r e a t e r c o n c e r n s c a m e t o b e a r o n the M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y .  Aftermath T h e history o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s has revealed the p r o c l i v i t y o f that  c o m m u n i t y to w o r k t o w a r d a synthesis o f their t i m e - h o n o r e d r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n s w i t h the  p r e v a i l i n g national ethos.  T h i s is s e e n m o s t c l e a r l y i n t h e M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y ' s  encounter w i t h N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m , w h e n the specific national ( G e r m a n ) a n d religious  (Mennonite) mythologies colluded with one another often in i n c o n s p i c u o u s tandem,  g r a d u a l l y a m a l g a m a t i n g f r o m the early 1930s until r e a c h i n g c o m p l e t e h a r m o n y w h e n the  most durable M e n n o n i t e tradition was fully c o m p r o m i s e d and the majority o f eligible  M e n n o n i t e s b o r e a r m s at t h e front i n 1 9 3 9 .  overarching ethos -  B y this t i m e , each r e s p e c t i v e  myth's  f o r o n e : t o r e m a i n s e p a r a t e from t h e w o r l d ; t o c o n f o r m o n l y t o t h e  w i l l o f G o d ; not to s w e a r an oath to any t e m p o r a l ruler; a n d to m a i n t a i n  nonresistance;  a n d the other: to d e m a n d c o n f o r m i t y ; to d e m a n d l o y a l t y t h r o u g h a d m i n i s t e r i n g a n oath; to  c o n q u e r a n d s u b d u e the w o r l d f o r c i b l y i n its l e a d e r s ' n a m e -  f o u n d c o m p a t i b i l i t y w i t h the  other, a n d w o r k e d together t o w a r d r e a l i z i n g w h a t w e r e p e r c e i v e d to b e the  synonymous  goals o f G o d and nation.  T h e desire to b e l o n g in P r u s s i a led the M e n n o n i t e s into a pattern o f c o m p r o m i s e .  C o m m u n a l insecurity -  129  born out o f persecution, deportation and legal restrictions  on  See Horst Gerlach's personal account of his experience in a Siberian work camp in Nightmare in Red  35  property, c h u r c h e s , a n d the like o v e r the centuries -  resulted i n n u m e r o u s  emigrations.  T h o s e w h o c h o s e to r e m a i n i n P r u s s i a c o n t i n u e d to appeal f o r greater rights a n d , w h i l e  n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a c c e p t i n g the state i m p o s i t i o n s o u t r i g h t -  p l e a d i n g the M e n n o n i t e case b e f o r e the g o v e r n m e n t -  as s e e n i n c o n t i n u a l  delegations  f o u n d that their f u n d a m e n t a l  M e n n o n i t e tenets o f faith w e r e necessarily c o m p r o m i s e d o v e r time.  L i k e M e n n o S i m o n s a n d the early m a i n s t r e a m A n a b a p t i s t s , the P r u s s i a n  M e n n o n i t e s l a b o r e d i n their desire to ameliorate their i m a g e t h r o u g h o v e r c o m i n g the  o n e r o u s M i i n s t e r l e g a c y . T h e d i f f e r e n c e lies i n that, w h i l e S i m o n s c h o s e to  strengthen  the p e a c e p o s i t i o n , the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s f o l l o w e d the lead o f their s o u t h G e r m a n  b r e t h r e n , a n d c h o s e to return to m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e .  H a n s - J i i r g e n G o e r t z asserts that:  die Mennoniten nut dem nationalsozialistischen Staat bereits so stark identifizierten, dall sie in den Leidenden Martyrern nicht mehr die spaten Brtider ihrer tauferischen Vater erkannten 130  A c c o r d i n g to H o r s t G e r l a c h , the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s w e r e f a m i l i a r w i t h the  Mirror  Martyr's  but chose the inverse o f S i m o n s ' interpretation o f military service, a n d believed  the l e g e n d s h a d their p l a c e i n past epochs.  G o e r t z e x p l a i n s the shift as f o l l o w s :  Die 'nationale Erhebung' kam den Bedurfnissen und Anstrengungen der Mennoniten, nach langer Fremdexistenz endlich auch gesellschaftlich voll integreiert zu werden, ohne die konfessionelle Sonderexistenz aufgeben zu miissen, stark entgegen. So kann man ohne weiteres sagen, dass die Politisierung des konfessionellen Ruckbezugs einem gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Impuls gefolgt ist, der die Farbung der faschistischen Ideologic angenommen hatte. 132  P e t e r K l a s s e n asserts that the M e n n o n i t e s w e r e " u n w i l l i n g to d i s t i n g u i s h b e t w e e n  o w n i n t e r e s t s a n d t h o s e p e r c e i v e d d e s i r a b l e f o r the state.  [their]  N a t i o n a l goals and priorities  (Freeman, 1995). (the Mennonites had identified so strongly with the National Socialist state at this time that they were no longer associated with their suffering martyred Anabaptist forefathers). Goertz, p.76. 130  131  Interview of Horst Gerlach. (The' rise of the nation' validated the efforts of the Mennonites, after a history of being foreigners in — Germany, to finally integrate fully without relinquishing their unique confessional beliefs. Thus one can say that their political and confessional reflex followed a social and economic impulse, which adopted the fascist ideology of the day), Goertz, p.82. 132  36  w e r e d e f i n e d b y the state a n d a c c e p t e d b y the c h u r c h . "  K l a s s e n r i g h t l y p o i n t s to the  o f the oath i n c o n c l u d i n g : " P e r h a p s this w a s fittingly s y m b o l i c o f a situation w h e r e  issue  a  133  f o r m w a s a c c e p t e d as a substitute f o r a n e s s e n c e that h a d b e e n  lost."  T h e p r o c e s s e s o f M e n n o n i t e a s s i m i l a t i o n a n d c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h the P r u s s i a n state  i n v o l v e d multifarious elements.  It is c l e a r f r o m t h e a v a i l a b l e l i t e r a t u r e a n d f r o m o r a l  histories,  that the M e n n o n i t e s i n i t i a l l y s u p p o r t e d the N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s t s b e c a u s e their p o l i c i e s f a v o r e d  farmers.  T h e s e f a r m e r s l i v e d o n the other side o f the " P o l i s h C o r r i d o r " a n d h e l d the  of"Heim ins Reich"  sentiment  A d d i t i o n a l l y , P i e t i s m a n d R a t i o n a l i s m served in the gradual w e a k e n i n g  o f f u n d a m e n t a l M e n n o n i t e principles throughout the nineteenth century. W i t h leadership  L u t h e r a n and Baptist-trained pastors w h o encouraged  church-state cooperation,  from  the  M e n n o n i t e s , one o f the f e w C h r i s t i a n d e n o m i n a t i o n s f o u n d e d o n a t h e o l o g y o f radical  n o n c o n f o r m i t y and nonresistance,  resisting the  w e r e left w i t h o u t a substantial t h e o l o g i c a l v e h i c l e f o r  regime.  T h e l i b e r a l i s m f o u n d i n the l a n g u a g e o f the D a n z i g M e n n o n i t e C h u r c h C o n s t i t u t i o n o f  1886  g a v e the appearance o f m a i n t a i n i n g M e n n o n i t e theology.  In fact, the c o n s c i e n c e ,  S i m o n s insisted be kept unadulterated amidst secular i n f l u e n c e s ,  order f o r the M e n n o n i t e s to m a i n t a i n the p r i n c i p l e i n a p p e a r a n c e .  conscience,  originally based o n c o m m u n a l adherence,  i m m e d i a t e p h y s i c a l p r o x i m i t y , thus d i l u t i n g the v e r y  1 3 4  was individualized in  T h e f o u n d a t i o n a l tenet o f  w a s r e d u c e d to personal c h o i c e  raison a" etre  Klassen, "Faith and Culture," p.205.  and  o f the original M e n n o n i t e  denomination. Diether G o e t z L i c h d i summarizes another w a y M e n n o n i t e s maintained  appearances o f past belief:  which  the  37  Sie wollen den alten individualistischen Nonkonformisumus auch dem Dritten Reich nicht opfern. Die Gemeinden werden nicht gleichgeschaltet, das Fiihrerprinzip nicht eingefur/.  135  Lichdi  continues:  Sie beginnen die Spannung des Lebens 'in der Welt' aber nicht 'von der Welt' unter endzeitlichen Gesichtspunkten zu sehen. Sie nehmen mehr und mehr auf Jesus als den wahren Fuhrer Bezug... so sehr sie sich der staatsbiirgerlichen Verpflichtung bewuBt waren, so wenig sie sich sozial diskrinunitieren wollten, so sehr achteten sie auch die 136  Gewissensnot einzelner und waren sich des tauferischen Erbes bewuBt. In short, the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s struggled to maintain b o t h participatory  (Staatsburgerschaft)  citizenship  a n d their traditional beliefs.  L e o n a r d V e r d u i n has associated c o e r c i o n w i t h corruption in r e l i g i o u s  history.  1 3 7  In this case, h o w e v e r , the M e n n o n i t e s v o l u n t a r i l y a c c e p t e d a c o e r c i v e r e g i m e a n d lost  their essential c o n s c i e n c e a n d voluntarist focus.  Therefore, the c l a i m that A n a b a p t i s t s  ushered in "the b e g i n n i n g o f modern individual, non-ecclesiastical  ample support in late-nineteenth  century Prussia.  culture"  the synthesis o f M e n n o n i t e faith a n d G e r m a n n a t i o n a l i s m -  political views, allowing for  a p r o c e s s that C o r n e l i u s D y c k  has credited w i t h the M e n n o n i t e loss o f " c o s m i c d u a l i s m , " l e a v i n g t h e m  resulting  from  1 3 9  finds  E v e n t u a l l y , the liberal, i n d i v i d u a l i z e d  t h e o l o g y o f the M e n n o n i t e s w a s c o m b i n e d w i t h conservative  "against the satanic spiritual r e a l m . "  1 3 8  impotent  T h i s impotence, w r o u g h t b y their c h o i c e s  and  their i n s i g n i f i c a n t p o p u l a t i o n i n the R e i c h , w a s r e c o g n i z e d b y the N a z i  Bender, "The Anabaptists," p. 15. (They did not want to sacrifice the old notion of individual nonconformity in the Third Reich. Also, the church community did not wish to 'coordinate' according to the Fiihrerprinzip), Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 167. (They began to see the tension of living 'in the world' but not 'of the world' in an apocalyptic sense. They increasingly regarded Jesus as the one true leader and protector in trouble [though] they very much desired to participate in German social and political life, and desired to avoid social discrimination they still wanted to identify themselves as followers of conscience, in the way of their Anabaptist forefathers). Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," pp. 169-170. Verduin p.92. Ernst Troeltsch asserts that modem individualism eventually "replacefd] the old state-church —compulsory culture. It [was] atfirsta purely religious idea, which then became secularized and overlaid with rationalistic, skeptical and utilitarian idea of toleration" Ernst Troeltsch "Die Bedeutung des Protestantismus fur die Entstehung der Modernen Welt" (Munich, 1911) in Bender, "Anabaptists," p.4. 134  135  136  137  138  38  g o v e r n m e n t that f o u n d f a v o r with the M e n n o n i t e w a y o f life, a n d d i d n o t perceive the  g r o u p as p o s i n g a threat to the national ethos.  Interested i ng u a r d i n g the historical record o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s  m u c h like E m i l H a e n d i g e s i n 1934 - Hans-Jiirgen  M e n n o n i t e s i n print.  140  -  of  A f t e r H a n s Rothfels placed the M e n n o n i t e s alongside the Quakers and  der Mennoniten  zustimmen"  falsity  G o e r t z responded to a misrepresentation  J e h o v a h ' s W i t n e s s e s as resisters o f the N a z i r e g i m e , G o e r t z stated:  Einordnung  from  "dieser ehrenvollen  in den Widerstand gegen das nationalsozialistische  Regime nicht  It w o u l d a p p e a r , i n b o t h o f t h e s e c a s e s t h a t o u t s i d e r s h a d a s s u m e d , b o t h at t h e  t i m e a n d a f t e r w a r d , that t h e M e n n o n i t e s w o u l d h a v e a c t e d v e r y d i f f e r e n t l y u n d e r N a t i o n a l  S o c i a l i s m - that t h e y w o u l d h a v e  resisted.  There were, however, grave consequences  National Socialism.  bore his name.  for the M e n n o n i t e collaboration with  I n t h e w a k e o f R e d b e a r d ' s f a i l e d m i s s i o n c a m e t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f all that  R a t h e r than h a v i n g their insecure fears o f b e i n g e x p e l l e d f r o m G e r m a n y b y the  N a z i s r e a l i z e d , P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s f o u n d a m u c h w o r s e fate at t h e h a n d s o f t h e  Soviet army.  B y summer,  advancing  1945, the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s lost their 4 0 0 - y e a r d o m i c i l e i n the  region, i n c l u d i n g their ancestral homes, and approximately ten p e r cent o ftheir  w i t h the survivors f o r c e d to flee to western G e r m a n y .  community,  1 4 1  A f t e r arriving there, thousands chose to  e m i g r a t e t o C a n a d a , t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s , U r u g u a y o r P a r a g u a y t h r o u g h a s s i s t a n c e from t h e  M e n n o n i t e Central C o m m i t t e e ( M C C , a relief organization established i n 1920 whose  main  function w a sto care for the w o r l d w i d e M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y ) , w h i l e m a n y others established  new homes inGermany.  w a s shattered in the  Dyck, p. 17. (it is not correct to have the Mennonites honored as resisters of the National Socialists), Goertz, p.61. It remains unknown how many Mennonites were drafted, killed in action, killed in theflightfrom Prussia, and how many deaths were civilian or military, etc. Lichdi, "Dritten Reich," p. 135. 139  -  In the end, the legendary m y t h o fBarbarossa  1 4 0 141  39  resultant massive loss of life, mass displacement and political division of the German people after the war. The symbolism of the defeat of the German army in this final eastern offensive has far-reaching implications for both the Mennonite community and the German nation, as both were afforded great cause for personal and communal reflection. Vergangenheitsbewaltigung While there have always been divergent views on nonresistance in the community, Mennonite historian C. Henry Smith rightly points out that Mennonite principles have always "forbade any fellowship with a movement that might require the use of force in gaining its objective, laudable though the goal might be."  142  Indeed, the  peace that came after the war did not effectively free the Prussian Mennonites from the spiritual mire in which they were steeped. After the Nazi atrocities became fully known to the public in 1945, international condemnation left those on the losing side with little hope for understanding or rehabilitation in the eyes of the victors. The Mennonites found themselves battling the demon of their own creation in the stark realization of having compromised their fundamental tenets of faith and, through personal, communal and national reflection, came to a fuller realization of their alliance with one of the most evil regimes in human history. A partial result of this alliance, and of having been a part of a group of armed men who "lived by the sword and died by the sword," included the death of their 400-year old ancestral homeland in East and West Prussia. T. D. Regehr has boldly asserted that "there has always been some suggestion that, at least in part, [the Mennonites]  Smith, p. 18.  40  c o n t r i b u t e d to that d i s a s t e r . "  T o several M C C and U n i t e d N a t i o n s administrators  a r r i v e d i n G e r m a n y to assist t h o s e a f f e c t e d b y the w a r i n 1945,  many Mennonites  " t o lack a n appropriate sense o f c o n t r i t i o n . . . they s e e m e d m o r e c o n c e r n e d a b o u t  they h a d lost t h a n w h a t they h a d d o n e d u r i n g the w a r . "  1 4 4  who  seemed  what  Peter K l a s s e n has offered a  m o r e n u a n c e d a p p r o a c h , a n d asks: " d i d the M e n n o n i t e s f a s h i o n the instruments o f their  own  destruction?"  1 4 5  U n d e r s t a n d a b l y , repentance has not been w i d e s p r e a d a m o n g the M e n n o n i t e s .  exceptions  include E m i l Haendiges and Siegfried Bartel.  H a e n d i g e s p u b l i c l y r e p e n t e d after  t h e w a r at t h e F o u r t h M e n n o n i t e W o r l d C o n f e r e n c e i n 1 9 4 8 ,  views on nonresistance.  his v i e w :  and c o m p l e t e l y c h a n g e d his  H e c a l l e d f o r the privilege, not just f o r M e n n o n i t e s ,  in unserem Deutschen Vaterldnde"  Two  "sondern fur alle  to refuse military service o n the basis o f c o n s c i e n c e .  In  "Niemand darf gegen sein Gewissen zum Kriegsdienst mit der Waffe gezwungen  werdenf  a p o s i t i o n that w a s a d o p t e d into the B a s i c L a w o f the F e d e r a l R e p u b l i c o f  146  G e r m a n y in  1949.  S i e g f r i e d B a r t e l c o n v e r t e d to p a c i f i s m f o l l o w i n g the w a r after " r e - t h i n k i n g Jesus  teaching."  B a r t e l h a s s a i d t h a t h i s g u i l t c o m e s from b e i n g i n t h e w a r , n o t f o r b e i n g a G e r m a n  captain i n the  to repent for.  violence -  Wehrmacht,  w h i c h is s o m e t h i n g that m a n y , i n h i s e x p e r i e n c e ,  F o r the m o s t part, B a r t e l ' s a u t o b i o g r a p h y -  s e e m to want h i m  in w h i c h he c o n d e m n s all f o r m s  has not e v o k e d m u c h positive response f r o m the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s , since,  he  Regehr, T.D., "Polish and Prussian Mennonite Displaced Persons, 1944-50" vaMennonite Quarterly Review, April (1992), p.266. Regehr, p.266. Klassen, "Faith and Culture," p. 196. (for all people in Germany... no one should be forced to go into military service and bear arms against —his conscience), Haendiges, "Historisches," p.26. This was published after the promulgation of the Basic Law in 1949. However, Mennonite historians Horst Gerlach and Diether Goetz Lichdi insist that Haendiges' views on these matters had direct influence on the related clause that appears in the Basic Law. 143  144  145  146  of  41  s a y s " m o s t o f t h e m a r e n o t q u i t e w i l l i n g t o t h i n k it t h r o u g h i n r e g a r d s o f t h e i r o w n  i n the w a r . . . t h e y t a k e the v i e w . . . [that t h e y ] c o u l d n ' t h e l p i t . "  experiences  1 4 7  C a n a d i a n M e n n o n i t e W a l t e r Q u i r i n g , w h o authored n u m e r o u s p r o - N a z i articles i n  Bote  d u r i n g 1 9 3 3 - 1 9 4 5 , w r o t e a letter to a f e l l o w M e n n o n i t e i n 1953.  " T h e G e r m a n p e o p l e let t h e m s e l v e s b e d e c e i v e d b y H i t l e r .  realize their error.  I also.  I n it, Q u i r i n g  Der  confessed:  T h e G e r m a n people today  I a l s o , " a n d c o n c l u d e s , a l t e r i n g the f o r m e r N a z i s l o g a n c o n c e r n i n g the  Jews, " H i t l e r w a s the m i s f o r t u n e o f the G e r m a n p e o p l e . "  1 4 8  S o m e M e n n o n i t e s r e m a i n skeptical o f s u c h changes o f heart.  Diether Goetz Lichdi  M e n n o n i t e minister  comments:  [Some Mennonites] repent because the other Mennonites in the Allied countries have heard their governments say that the Germans are war criminals; they really lack proper theological reflection. My view is that the Mennonites were guilty because they couldn't overcome the temptation of Nazism. 149  Indeed, the majority h a v e not r e c o g n i z e d the need f o r r e p e n t a n c e o f a n y k i n d .  m o s t l y b e c a u s e the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s d o not b e l i e v e that t h e y a b a n d o n e d the  T h i s is  nonresistant  stance, a n d b e c a u s e o f the great m i s f o r t u n e that w a s m e t e d o u t o n t h e i r c o m m u n i t y i n the last  m o n t h s o f the war.  O n e M e n n o n i t e veteran o f the  in his heart" w h i l e s e r v i n g his country.  G e r m a n M e n n o n i t e s today.  Luftwaffe  insists that he r e m a i n e d  Diether G o e t z L i c h d i c o n f i r m e d this sentiment  R e f e r r i n g to nonresistance  and M e n n o n i t e faith, he  " T h e y o u n g e r o n e s w o u l d a g r e e w i t h it a n d t h e o l d e r o n e s w o u l d s a y -  T h e y always practiced  'Wehrlosigkeit  "wehrlos  i n their h e a r t s . ' "  among  commented:  w e a l w a y s p r a c t i c e d it!  1 5 0  T h e fact that m a n y p e o p l e i n G e r m a n y e n d u r e d great h a r d s h i p a n d d e a t h f o r c h o o s i n g  to r e m a i n t r u e to their r e l i g i o u s a n d p o l i t i c a l c o n v i c t i o n s -  147  —  148 149 150  s u c h as the H u t t e r i t e s  and  Interview of Siegfried Bartel. LetterfromW. Quiring to B.B. Janz, B.B. Janz papers, CMBSF, Winnipeg, quoted in Thiesen, p.226. Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi. Interview of Diether Goetz Lichdi.  42  Jehovah's Witnesses, for example -  stands in contrast to the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e experience  under N a z i s m , and their maintenance o f  M e n n o n i t e s did  Wehrlosigkeit,  but o n l y to an extent.  s t a y t r u e t o t h e i r c o n v i c t i o n s a s t h e y w e r e at t h e t i m e .  In a way,  the  A f t e r adapting and  a s s i m i l a t i n g into P r u s s i a n society o v e r the centuries, the M e n n o n i t e s h a d altered s o m e o f their  f o u n d a t i o n a l tenets o f faith. W h e n c o n f r o n t e d w i t h a n i d e o l o g y that w a s i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h  C h r i s t i a n i t y u n d e r the pressures o f dictatorship, their adapted v e r s i o n o f M e n n o n i t e faith h a d  b e e n p u r g e d o f a n y content that c o u l d h a v e b e e n u t i l i z e d i n o p p o s i t i o n to the g o v e r n m e n t ,  and  p r o v e d to be rather i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l i n i m p e d i n g the rise o f N a t i o n a l S o c i a l i s m i n G e r m a n y .  N a t u r a l l y , the G e r m a n p e o p l e continue to deal w i t h their v e r y p r o b l e m a t i c N a z i  past.  In the processes o f  VergangenheitsbewdUigung  ( c o m i n g to t e r m s w i t h the past),  m o n u m e n t s , m u s e u m s a n d m e m o r i a l s h a v e b e e n erected to e n c o u r a g e  appropriate  reflection o n the u n p a r a l l e l e d aggression m e t e d out, in m a n y different w a y s , o n the  m a j o r i t y o f E u r o p e a n s d u r i n g the N a z i era.  W h i l e the efforts have t a k e n praiseworthy  f o r m s , m a n y e n d e a v o r s l a c k m e a n i n g f u l s u b s t a n c e as the c r e a t o r s o f m e m o r i a l s t o N a z i  atrocities are b u r d e n e d w i t h the o b s c u r i t y o f intent.  P e r h a p s t h i s is t h e result o f the  controversial nature o f the p h e n o m e n a that are represented, a n d the u n d e r s t a n d a b l e desire  for the G e r m a n p e o p l e -  m o s t o f w h o m are relatives o f p e o p l e w h o l i v e d i n N a z i  G e r m a n y , m a n y o f w h o m w e r e i n v o l v e d in the crimes o f the r e g i m e - to f o c u s o n the  positive r e b u i l d i n g o f their p h y s i c a l , social a n d spiritual nation.  Indeed, the  and c o n f u s i o n o v e r the N a z i past are evident i n a w i d e range o f m e m o r i a l s ,  ambivalence  from  the  43  h i g h - p r o f i l e N e u e W a c h e i n d o w n t o w n B e r l i n , to t h o s e erected in v i l l a g e s scattered  t h r o u g h o u t G e r m a n y (see F i g u r e 3 ) .  1 5 1  S i m i l a r l y , t h e M e n n o n i t e p e o p l e h a v e a t t e m p t e d t o c o m e t o t e r m s w i t h t h e i r p a s t as  well.  In a d d i t i o n to the c o n c e r n s a n d c o n f u s i o n they share w i t h their G e r m a n n e i g h b o r s ,  the  M e n n o n i t e s f a c e the a d d e d c o n u n d r u m o f h a v i n g c o m p r o m i s e d the f u n d a m e n t a l tenets o f their  faith.  T h e h i s t o r y o f the P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s i n the T h i r d R e i c h has r e v e a l e d that  n a t i o n a l i s m , c o m m u n a l a n d p e r s o n a l e x p e d i e n c y s e e m e d to b l i n d the M e n n o n i t e s to the  dangerous  a n d a n t i - C h r i s t i a n i d e o l o g y o f the N a z i s .  M o s t d i d not r e c o g n i z e that the  regime  w a s i n h e r e n t l y a n t i - C h r i s t i a n a n d , i f they d i d , they n o l o n g e r p o s s e s s e d a t h e o l o g y that c o u l d  c o u n t e r it.  T h e r e f l e c t i o n , o r l a c k o f it, s e e m s t o l e a v e t h e P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s w i t h s i m i l a r  ambivalent feelings and a confusing legacy, m u c h like those found in m e m o r i a l s  Germany.  throughout  T h e M e n n o n i t e s , too, l o v e their c o u n t r y , are d e f e n s i v e o f their i n v o l v e m e n t in the  war, and c o n t i n u e to l i v e w i t h the g r i e f o f their losses w h i l e q u i e t l y e x t o l l i n g t h o s e w h o  suffered for t a k i n g a radical stance against N a z i s m .  T h e y have also erected a m e m o r i a l  of  t h e i r o w n i n W e i e r h o f i n m e m o r y o f t h o s e w h o d i e d i n t h e f l i g h t from t h e i r h o m e s i n P r u s s i a  during 1944-1945.  a verse  from  T h e m o n u m e n t is i n s c r i b e d t o  "Den Toten derfernenHeimat"  Ironically,  t h e b o o k o f R e v e l a t i o n is p r i n t e d d o w n t h e m i d d l e o f t h e c r o s s , w h i c h s e r v e s as 152  the m e m o r i a l i t s e l f (see F i g u r e 4).  the  Wehrmacht 's  Instead o f the apocalyptic m y t h s h a v i n g been realized in  v i c t o r y i n the east - as p r o p h e s i e d b y H o r s t G e r l a c h ' s s c h o o l t e a c h e r -  The Neue Wache is a memorial to those who suffered unjustly and died in Europe while under the control of totalitarianism. This confusion over who is represented in the memorialfindsits counterpart in Bockenheim, where "Der Ehre" of the soldier is juxtaposed with lists of fallen soldiers from both world wars, and those who had resisted the tyranny of the National Socialists to the point of death. Across the horizontal beam of the cross-shaped memorial: "den Toten der femen Heimat" (the dead from the far-off homeland) and down the vertical beam: "Gott wird abwischen alle Tranen von Ihren —Augen und der Tod wird nicht mehr sein noch Leid noch Geschrei noch Schmerzen wird mehr sein denn das erste ist vergangen." (God will wipe away every tearfromtheir eyes and the dead will experience no more mourning, or crying or pain; thefirstthings have passed away). Revelation 21:4 151  1 5 2  the  44  b i b l i c a l v e r s e s s e r v e d t o c o m f o r t t h o s e w h o h a d l o s t f a m i l y a n d l o v e d o n e s i n t h e w a k e o f its  catastrophic defeat.  P r u s s i a n M e n n o n i t e s h a v e also attempted to deal w i t h the c o g n i t i v e a n d  d i s s o n a n c e inherent in their history.  theological  A c c o r d i n g to the c o l l e c t e d a c c o u n t s o f D i e t h e r G o e t z  L i c h d i , m a n y M e n n o n i t e w o m e n w o r k i n g in hospitals i n P r u s s i a d e c i d e d , o n a c c o u n t o f their  C h r i s t i a n faith, to lay d o w n their lives for those in their care.  Nurse Helene H a m m  of  M a r i e n b u r g , f o r e x a m p l e , w a s raped and k i l l e d b y R u s s i a n soldiers after c h o o s i n g not to j o i n  the f l e e i n g G e r m a n e x p e d i t i o n in 1944  hospital.  i n o r d e r to tend to the s i c k a n d w a r - w o u n d e d i n the  H e r e again, e v e n a m i d s t the v i o l e n c e o f w a r -  in w h i c h Prussian M e n n o n i t e m e n  fully participated - there were a n u m b e r o f M e n n o n i t e s w h o c o n s i d e r e d the bravery  sacrifice o f the likes o f H e l e n e to be a continuation o f the  martyrdom,  suffering,  1 5 4  1 5 3  a n d rightly so.  Wehrlosen Christen  H o w e v e r , to f o c u s o n the s u f f e r i n g , p a r t i c u l a r l y  legacy  of  female  tends to d i m i n i s h c o m m u n a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the G e r m a n a g g r e s s i o n ,  ultimately brought about H e l e n e ' s tragic end, and simultaneously p r o m o t e s  and  which  vindication  through victimization.  T h e m a i n l i n e P r o t e s t a n t c h u r c h e s , despite the r e p e a t e d c r i t i c i s m that t h e y  been motivated b y outside political pressures,  t h e i r a c t i o n s d u r i n g t h e N a z i e r a as w e l l .  1 5 5  have  have attempted to c o m e to terms w i t h  T h e leaders o f the  Land c h u r c h e s ,  mostly those  i n v o l v e d in the C o n f e s s i n g C h u r c h , b a n d e d together after the w a r to " e s t a b l i s h greater  Penner, "Ost- west," p. 145. Doris Bergen asserts that the "appropriation of women's experiences for political ends, to legitimate claims of male loss and innocence" prevails in postwar ethnic German historiography. "Mourning, Mass Death, and the Gray Zone: The Ethnic Germans of Eastern Europe and the Second World War," in Symbolic Loss: The Ambiguity of Mourning and Memory at Century's End. (Charlottesville, 2000), p. 181. John Conway asserts that the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt was made voluntarily after the war, although - an expedient element did exist. Those repenting were interested in ecumenical and international dialogue and ," •: .. many, including Martin NiemoTler, were prominent figures in the establishment of the 153  154  45  u n i t y a m o n g t h e P r o t e s t a n t s w i t h i n G e r m a n y a n d i n t h e w o r l d at l a r g e , "  P r o v i s i o n a l C o u n c i l f o r the E v a n g e l i c a l C h u r c h i n G e r m a n y i n 1945.  P r o v i s i o n a l C o u n c i l c o n v e n e d i n Stuttgart i n O c t o b e r ,  C o u n c i l o f C h u r c h e s j o i n e d the gathering.  1945,  b y f o r m i n g the  When  a delegation  the  from  the W o r l d  A t the m e e t i n g , p a s t o r M a r t i n N i e m o l l e r  d e l i v e r e d a p u b l i c statement o f repentance o n b e h a l f o f the G e r m a n Protestant C h u r c h e s  for their actions in the war.  Declaration o f Guilt,  T h e statement, w h i c h c a m e t o b e k n o w n as t h e S t u t t g a r t  declared:  With great anguish we state: through us inestimable suffering was inflicted on many peoples and lands.. .we have fought for long years in the name of Jesus Christ against the spirit that found horrible expression in the National Socialist regime of force, but we accuse ourselves for not witnessing more courageously, for not praying more faitiifully, for not believing more joyously 157  and for not loving more ardently. T h o s e d o i n g the repenting w e r e part o f a small, radical m i n o r i t y , a n d their actions great alarm and c o n d e m n a t o r y  reaction f r o m many Christians in G e r m a n y .  positive side, h o w e v e r , these m e n and particularly the Stuttgart D e c l a r a t i o n the G e r m a n  Schuldfrage,  both w i t h i n a n d outside the  church.  1 5 8  caused  O n the  spearheaded  1 5 9  World Council of Churches in Geneva in 1947. See John Conway, "How Shall the Nations Repent? The Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt," in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 38:4 (October) 1987. Helmreich, p.418. Text of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, in Helmreich, p.421. 156 157  158  John Conway asserts: "There can be no doubt...that, when the Declaration was first issued, such attitudes [of exaggerated nationalism] were both widespread and strongly held by the majority of Protestants, both clergy and laity. But to the more radical minority, who supported it, the statement was a belated attempt to come to terms with their own mistakes, an act of conscious self-criticism for attitudes and actions which had involved their church and their nation in unprecedented ethical disasters." Conway, "Nations Repent," p. 597. Helmreich notes that Karl Jaspers gave a series of lectures in the winter semester of 1945-1946 on the question of German guilt in relation to the war at the University of Heidelberg. Helmreich, p.421. John Conway points out that the Declaration was significant in four distinct ways: Lit marked the first public acknowledgement by a major social organization of the complicity of Germans in the misdeeds of the Nazi regime, and the need for a public acceptance of guilt; 2.it hindered the growth or recurrence of any exculpatory mythology, such as the notorious 'Stab-in-the-back' legend of 1918; 3.it opened the way for a wholly new and much more creative relationship between the German Protestant churches and their — counterparts abroad; 4. It saw the beginning of a long and often painful assessment of the Church's responsibility towards political events in their society, and an abandonment of old ideas about the subordination of Lutherans to the powers of the State. "The Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt and its 159  46  T h e M e n n o n i t e s , too, share in this desire for rehabilitation. A s seen a b o v e ,  the  M e n n o n i t e s , m u c h l i k e their counterparts i n the m a i n l i n e Protestant sects i n G e r m a n y ,  w e r e m o r e interested i n protecting their institutions a n d traditions than p r o p a g a t i n g a  potent C h r i s t i a n testimony i n the T h i r d R e i c h .  same.  P e r h a p s t h e t w o w e r e s e e n as o n e a n d the  W h i l e c o n t i n u i n g i n the t e n d e n c y to take care o f their o w n , r e f u g e e  congregations  o f the f o r m e r D a n z i g - W e s t P r u s s i a area are r e p r e s e n t e d i n the b r o a d e r G e r m a n  M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y b y a ministerial c o m m i t t e e c a l l e d the  Altestenausschuss  Konferenz der west- und ostpreussischen Mennonitengemeinden.  160  der  A f t e r the war, N o r t h  A m e r i c a n v o l u n t e e r s i n the M C C sent m o n e y a n d s u p p l i e s to a i d their M e n n o n i t e  brethren in G e r m a n y .  T h o s e w h o were able to validate their M e n n o n i t e identity  adequately w o u l d r e c e i v e the aid.  In terms o f the historical record, most M e n n o n i t e veterans desire that the past b e  re-written i n s u c h a w a y that the G e r m a n s , a n d the M e n n o n i t e s , are treated m o r e f a i r l y .  A n d understandably so.  Indeed, m a n y M e n n o n i t e s , a n d others, feel that historical  objectivity has b e e n s i d e l i n e d i n m u c h o f the h i s t o r i o g r a p h y p r o d u c e d o n the p e o p l e a n d  period in question.  U n l i k e E t h e l b e r t Stauffer's declaration - that m a r t y r s  achieve  " v i c t o r y o v e r the v i c t o r s " - the M e n n o n i t e s , martyrs and otherwise i n this case, have b e e n  f o r c e d i n t o q u i e t , p e r s o n a l r e f l e c t i o n as the l o s e r s o f a n u n j u s t l y m o t i v a t e d a n d  war.  T h e resulting tragic e m p l o t m e n t o f their history has served to objectify  executed  "the  G e r m a n " i n p o p u l a r a n d s c h o l a r l y accounts o f the 1 9 3 3 - 1 9 4 5 era, i n j u s t i f y i n g the  actions  —Ecumenical Impact," Unpublished Paper in John S. Conway Research Collection, D804.3C443, File 1, RRAR2, (Vancouver, 1985). Crous, "Germany," in Bender and Smith, Volume n, p.486. 160  47  o f the A l l i e s b e t w e e n 1 9 4 5 - 1 9 5 0 ,  in c o n t e m p o r a r y  1 6 1  a n d i n fostering anachronistic adaptations o f N a z i s m  society.  O n the other h a n d , significant reflection a n d criticism are certainly appropriate  and are the d u t y o f theologians, scholars a n d those otherwise i n v o l v e d i n the events o f  this p e r i o d .  Indeed, denominational authenticity a n d credibility must b e restored i f the  M e n n o n i t e s intend to sustain respect i n the G e r m a n nation a n d t h r o u g h o u t the w o r l d .  S o m e efforts h a v e b e e n m a d e i n this direction.  In striving t o w a r d r e c o n c i l i a t i o n w i t h the  P o l i s h p e o p l e , f o r m e r m e m b e r s o f the Prussian M e n n o n i t e c o m m u n i t y w h o h a d m o v e d to  H a m b u r g after the w a r initiated a joint M e n n o n i t e - P o l i s h C a m p o f A t o n e m e n t , w h i c h w a s  e r e c t e d at S t u t t h o f i n 1 9 7 3 .  1 6 2  T h e e f f o r t s at S t u t t h o f a r e n o t e n t i r e l y u n i q u e .  T h e negative experiences  many  M e n n o n i t e s e n d u r e d d u r i n g w a r t i m e s e r v e d as t h e c a t a l y s t f o r a r e - e v a l u a t i o n o f t h e i r t i m e -  honored traditions o f nonresistance and nonconformity.  nonresistance,  M a n y c a m e to realize that  i n its t r a d i t i o n a l f o r m , w a s m o r e i r r e s p o n s i b l e t h a n a n y t h i n g else, l e a d i n g m a n y  Mennonites to convert  from  and radical peacemaking.  their passive, secluded peace stance to n o n v i o l e n t social action  N o ww i l l i n g to p a y the "ultimate sacrifice" after j o i n i n g the " c o r p s "  in w o r k i n g t o w a r d b r i n g i n g p e a c e t o t r o u b l e d areas, M e n n o n i t e s w e r e a b l e t o p o u r their  energies into p o s i t i v e social a n d structural change.  Wehrmacht  F o r example, K l a u s Froese, s o n o f a  s o l d i e r from W e s t P r u s s i a , m o v e d t o C r e t e i n 1 9 4 6 i n o r d e r t o h e l p r e b u i l d w h a t  See James Bacque, Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians Under Allied Occupation 19441950. (Toronto, 1997). Kazimierz Mezynski, "The German Mennonites on their way to reconciliation with Poland' in Mennonite Quarterly Review, 1976, (50), pp.288-9. 161  162  48  G e r m a n s o l d i e r s h a d d e s t r o y e d i n t h e w a r a n d l e g a l l y c l a i m e d C o n s c i e n t i o u s O b j e c t o r status 163 under the B a s i c L a w o f the F e d e r a l R e p u b l i c o f G e r m a n y i n 1950.  M e n n o n i t e s a r o u n d t h e w o r l d a l s o l e a r n e d a g r e a t d e a l from t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s  during the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r . H a v i n g eliminated the traditional M e n n o n i t e t w o -  k i n g d o m theology, n e w groups, mostly emanating f r o m M C C , b e g a n to organize a n d  m o v e into service all a r o u n d the w o r l d .  Christian Peacemaking Teams, the M e n n o n i t e  C o n c i l i a t i o n S e r v i c e a n d the International C o n c i l i a t i o n Service, f o r e x a m p l e , b e g a n t o  focus o n the prevention o f violence and o n e m p o w e r i n g people to regain o w n e r s h i p o f  their r e s p e c t i v e situations i n t r o u b l e d areas o f the w o r l d .  T h enew form o f peacebuilding,  w h i c h has replaced the passive nonresistance o f o l d , has f u r n i s h e d c o n t e m p o r a r y  M e n n o n i t e s w i t h a n " e n o r m o u s transformative potential f o r the future interactions o f the  global c o m m u n i t y . "  1 6 4  Perhaps the resurgence o f  Wehrlosigkeit c a n b e d e s c r i b e d  familiar for the M e n n o n i t e s - a f o r m  as a return t o t h e  Vergangenheitsbewdltigung t h a t  focuses o n real a n d  lasting positive c h a n g e after the M e n n o n i t e s h a d witnessed, a n d i n d e e d participated i n the  o p p o s i t e d u r i n g the w a r . T h e m a r t y r o l o g y o f the M e n n o n i t e s h a s n o t d i s a p p e a r e d either.  A . A . T o e w s a n d J o h n H o r s c h - b o t h w r i t i n g after the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r - i n c l u d e the  A n a b a p t i s t legends i n their historical accounts o f the M e n n o n i t e p e o p l e i n E u r o p e ,  r e v e a l i n g the p r o c l i v i t y f o r M e n n o n i t e s , like their G e r m a n brethren, to f o c u s o n the  victimization a n d suffering they experienced i n the w a r .  1 6 5  Interview of Klaus Froese by Author, 17 June, 2000 (Hannover, Germany). Cynthia Sampson and John Paul Lederach (eds.). From the Ground Up: Mennonite Contributions to International Peacemaking, (Oxford, 2000), p.255. A.A. Toews' Mennonite Martyrs: 1920-1940, and John Horsch's The Mennonites ofEurope primarily expound upon Mennonite suffering in Ukraine. Doris Bergen also addresses the martyrological focus in the extant historiography on the Volksdeutschen, Bergen, "Mourning," p. 181, 163  164  165  49 W e have seen the re-appropriation o f both national and religious myths - both used for new purposes - after 1933. To be sure, the militarism and nationalism that constitutes the Kyffhauser legacy and monument were made palatable to the Mennonites through the gradual, centuries-long processes of assimilation into Prussian society. After the war, both the German nation and the Mennonites have reflected on their disturbing past. The German nation and government have conducted an about-face since 1945, and have focused on limiting ultra-conservative or neo-fascist movements and, in recent years, have very actively promoted liberal social democracy in Germany as part of its Leitkultur. German Mennonites, too, have promoted the opposite o f what they practiced in the Second World War, and have once again embraced the national political ethos and accompanying Leitkultur. With a new, more agreeable tandem established for both sides, the Mennonites have once again found a vital raison a" etre for peacebuilding that resembles the old, having again re-modeled their old legends for new purposes. Still, the N a z i era continues to loom over the German nation, and the Mennonites within it, as they continue to struggle - both separately and in conjunction - in the hope of someday coming to terms with their very problematic history. Today, Whitebeard continues to gaze silently over the Thuringian plains from his monument - maintained as a relic o f Germania's colored past - while the German Mennonite community continues to thrive in an uneasy peace with itself and the larger community.  T h e K y f f h a u s e r M o n u m e n t in T h u r i n g i a  (Source: Photo by A u t h o r )  51  Figure 2a  2Iuj ©runb ber Setjre 3e[u Gt)ri|ti in QUallr). 5, 34 — 37 uer> bieter bas mennonitifci)e Siekenntnis [djledjtrjin unb otjne Slusnatjme bie 21bieijrung eines jbtmlidjen (Jibes unb gt|tQtlet [eiuen 93e!iennern nui eine jeierlidje ajerjidjerung bejro. tin (eierlidjrs 33er|prrd)rn mit .3""  SRttteUungsblatt ber J?on[erenj  bet Oft* urtb QJieftpreufetfcrjert  "ib JjQnbjdjlag. Sieje religibjen ©runblaje ber OTenitonilen fjat bie 13rrui)i[rf)e  IKegierung feiitjer in ber ®e[et)gebung berudifidjligt.  Siejiiglidj ber  in bas §err eintreienben "fflennonilen tjeiijt es in bem ©ejejj oom 17. Sejember 1801 in § 2 : „5Jei ber (£injiet)ung jum J?rirgsbien|l (uII ber ftanlonpiiirijlige  Ulennortitenciemeinben  OHennonii, in SRiidt|ici)t [einer ©laubensbegrifjr, mil ber libleidung eines Gibes oer|cf)ont unb bie erforberlirfje 3 ! " g e oon u  betreffenb  bie Q3erpfltcrjtung ber ffiiennomten  itjm mitlrljt Sanbfdjiages angenommen loerben." 3)ie Slntuenbbarbeil biefes ©efeljes and) fiir bie ^ttluiuft tuirb oom Rriegsminiiierium in einem (Jrlag oom 28. 3anuar 1869 (135. 12 A I a) an ben 33or|tanb ber TOennonitengemeinbe in B a n j i g  art (Sibesftatt  beftatigi, roenn es t)ier fjeijjl: ,-IBas jri)lieBlid) bie 5orm ber Ditnliuripjlidjlung angelji, [o  bet (Sintritt in ben ^eeresbtertft.  be[ief)t § 2 ber Separation oom 17. Srjrmber 1801 nod) in S t a j i unb jinb bemnad) bicjenigen TOrnnonilen, loelrije in ben OTiliiarbienft  eintreien, oon ber (£ibcsleijlung enlbunben unb  milielit §anb|d)Iages jur gal)ne ju oerpflicljlen." 21uj ©runb einer Singabe ber „33rrrinigung ber Ulennonileii' gemeinben im Seutfdjen 3ieicf)" oom 15. TOarj 1935 an basSWdjskriegsminiiterium, in ber bie W i l e ausge[prod)en war, bie Sonber§etausgegeben oom ^ItlUilfn - SusfdjuB.  t'lellung ber OHennoniten in ber Sibesfroge aud) bei ber Sieuregelung ber  233er)rpilid)t  ju  beriidifidjiigen,  ill  folgenbe  ergangen:  The form used by Mennonites in lieu of swearing an oath to the German government upon conscription after 1935, pages 1 and 2 (Source: Mennonitische Forschungsteiie, Weierhof, Germany)  (Ent|ri)eibung  52  Figure 2b  3)tr SR«id)skriegsmini|ttr •ii. Ob«rfj«(tl)l9^ob(t btr 3Dff)rmad)t Sir. 5167/35 J 1 b.  33trlin W 35, btn 26. 9. 35.  <U i t e ft.  •93tlr.: (Elbtsformtl jilt Solbaten mtnnoniti[d)tn ©laubtns.  Sin bic  (Es roitb t)ietmit be[d)tinigt, baft ••  93eretnigung btr ©eulfdjen  Olttiinonilfngtmtinbtn,  S. £). bts $Smn S r . (Sruus 93trlin • Sitglili  CIHiiglieb btr unttrjtidjntttn 9Zlrnnonil(ngemeinbe i(l. 233ir bean-  £autnburgt[|lr. 7.  iragen. gcmajj (Srlajj bts .t)trtn*3lfid)Shritgsniini|tfrs unb Obtr* btltljlstiabtrs  91u[ fltlfill,  31)"  ba[)  jolgtnbts  Slnjragt oom 17. 9. 35 miib OTfIIiiDiiilcii  3l)"'  n  au[ bc[onbcrtn ^Intraa  ©tlbbnis in bit § a n b bis SorgtjtBttn  Stellt bts Eibcs gtbunbtn  © c I ii  mit> bnrdj  btr ffltljtmadjt oom 26. Stpltinbtr 1935 (9!t.  5167/35 J 1 b), i!)n an SttUt bts Kibes burd) bns |iir OTtn. noniten UDrgt[d)ritbtnt ©elbbnis jn  Dtrpilirfjlfn.  on  rotrbtn:  bnis!  , ben  3 t r 95 o i (t a ii b btt OTtnnonittngemtinbe  .3ri)  gtlobf, baij id) btm giiljrtr bts Stulfdjtu Sltidjts unb  55olhts Slbolf ©illtr, btm Ober|ten Sfftbjsfiabtt btr 23tfjrmarf)t. unbtbingltn ©ttjorjam [tifltn unb als top[trtr Solbol bereit (tin mill, jtbtrjtit fiit bitjto ©tlbbnis mtin Stbtn tinjultjjtu."  3. 21. (gtj)  Sotti|d).  The form used by Mennonites in iieu of swearing an oath to the German government upon conscription after 1935, pages 3 and 4 (Source: Mennonitische Forschungstelle, Weierhof,  Germany)  World War  T w o m e m o r i a l at  Bockenheim  (Source: Photo by A u t h o r )  54  Figure  4  T h e m e m o r i a l e r e c t e d a t W e i e r h o f to the P r u s s i a n  Mennonites who perished d u r i n g  the S e c o n d W o r l d  War  (Source: Photo by Author)  55  Bibliography  Anderson, Benedict.  Imagined Communities  (New York: Verso,  1991).  Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians Under Allied Occupation 1944-1950 ( T o r o n t o : L i t t l e , B r o w n a n d C o . , 1 9 9 7 ) .  Bacque, James.  The Anabaptists and Religious Liberty in the Sixteenth Century  Bender, Harold.  (Philadelphia:  1970).  "Badisch-Wiirttembergisch-Bayerischer H . a n d S m i t h , C . 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