The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of the Peregrine Foundation
P.O. Box 460141
San Francisco, CA 94146-0141
telephone: (415) 386-6072
http://www.perefound.orgNewsletter Staff: Charles Lamar, Miriam Arnold Holmes, Ben Cavanna, David E. Ostrom, Nadine Moonje Pleil
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within andfrom outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do notnecessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff. Yearly suggested donation rates (4 issues): $15 USA; $20Canada;$25 International mailed from USA; £10 mailed from UK to Europe.
Keep In Touch ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~OFF PRINT with changed layout, two extra photos and where necessary updated by Erdmuthe ArnoldThe first part was published in English (and German) in KIT Newsletter Vol XVII No. 3 November 2005(pages 8-18); second part only in English, in KIT Newsletter Vol XVIII No. 1 January 2006 (pages 7-17)
THE STORY OF MY LIFE IN A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
By Wilhelm Fischer
I would like to precede my memories with the verse of a song:
Ich bin durch die Welt gegangen, und die Welt ist schön und groß, und doch ziehet ein Verlangen, mich weit von der Erdelos.
(“I have travelled through the World, and the World is
lovely and is large; but still a great longing draws me far awayfrom this Earth.
That’s how most of us will remember the Fisch
er family in Prima-vera. From the left: Friedrich, Lucrezia, Markus, Lini with Mat-thias, and Wilhelm with Giovanni (missing: Johanna, Ludwig, andWillhelm jun./Guillermo). The picture was taken about six monthsbefore Wilhelm and Lini were sent to England with the youngestfour children 1960. All together 176 Bruderhof people from Prima-vera and El Arado
were booked on the Virgin overseas flight withVarig on August 23, from Rio de Janeiro to Germany and England.
During the past 25 years we have met many of our old friendsand acquaintances, and have spoken of our lives and all the expe-riences we have been through together. Many repeatedly ex-pressed the wish that these memories should be put in writing be-fore they are lost forever. So I wrote down my memories, whichby no means claim to give a full picture of our past.At the age of six, I had an experience that was to be decisivefor my life. It lead me during my youth, aged 14
17 to join the
This report is a transcript of a hand-writtenmanuscript by Wilhelm Fischer, written at the age of 72
in1986. It has been transcribed and edited by Erdmuthe Arnold,and translated by Linda Lord-Jackson. The photos are mostlythanks to the supply of Albums by Erna and Werner Friedemannas well as Ludwig and Irene Fischer (now Pfeiffer). Irene alsocontributed to the identification and notes with the photographs.
Christian life in Community. I then devoted over 31 years of mylife to them. They aimed to prove that an entirely different wayof life on earth is possible.It happened during 1920/21, after World War I. In Germanycivil war broke out, and the worrying question was: who was go-ing to rule the country? As a small child, I saw some men, strug-gling to drag a two wheel cart through the streets, it was full tooverflowing with bodies of victims of the war. It was such ashocking sight, that even today, at 72 years old, I can see it clear-ly before me. Also the soldiers who survived the terrible war, re-turned with stories of heroic deeds and exploits, bragging aboutwhat they had done to the so called enemy. This instigated theyoung boys to play war games too. In fact up to 200 of themfrom
-Eisenach went into the Ziegelwald woodsand fraught each other with all imaginable weapons, includingfire arms even. The dead must be lamented. The Police and Mili-tary had to intervene in order to end the fighting.
CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH
I was born in Eisenach / Thüringen on 28th January 1914, thefirst son of Reinhold and Anna Fischer, two younger brothersfollowed. I went to school between the ages of 7 and 14, fol-lowed by a three year apprenticeship as a salesman. Straight afterthat, in 1931, I became unemployed and shared the fate of themasses
during the time between the two World Wars. There
just wasn’t any work.
My father was also in at war for four years, he hardly everspoke about it. He was posted to the Cavalry, and returned unin- jured. We lived in the town centre, but in 1921 moved to the out-skirts in a house that belonged to one of my f
ather’s brothers. My
father was a farmer and a black-smith. His ancestors lived on thesame farm for over 400 years, and always learned a second tradelike black-smith or weapon manufacture etc. After the move, wehad more room in the house, as well as a large garden. Food wasvery scarce and basic. My cousins built a large wire cage in thegarden into which we could lure sparrows, so that we could catchthem. They served as a good addition to the meagre, short ra-
tions, and tasted alright. What one won’t do
when sufferingpangs of hunger! My father worked in the only big factory in Ei-senach, which manufactured bicycles, motor bikes and later alsocars. Today it is Wartburg-Hersteller, the biggest car factory inthe DDR (German Democratic Republic).At the weekends before we moved, my father used to cycle20 kilometres to his brothers, who still had farms, to help themout. He always returned with a rucksack full of edible goodies. Inlater years, after 1923, each Autumn on the farm a fatted pigwould be slaughtered, and prepared as meat, sausages, lard,brawn and some would be smoked; so we always had enoughmeat until the following year. As a ten year old I used to look