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Volume XXII No 2 September 2010 The KIT Newsletter editorial staff welcomes all suggested contributions for publication in the Newsletter from subscribers and readers, but whether a given submission meets the criteria for publication is at the sole discretion of the editors. While priority will be given to original contributions by people with past Bruderhof connections, any letters, articles, or reports which the editors deem to be of historical or personal interest or to offer new perspectives on issues of particular relevance to the ex-Bruderhof Newsletter readership may be included as well. The editors may suggest to the authors changes to improve their presentation.
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Contents Happy Grandparents – Notes from the Hummer A Small KIT Gathering in Bremen Requiescat in Pace: Albrecht Wiegand, Klaus Meier, John Winter, Irene Hasenberg Maendel, Susanna Kleiner Mathis Monika Trümpi has passed away Remembering my Aunt Monika Hans Zimmermann‟s Childhood Memories of Primavera Primavera Map Confrontation Between The Bruderhof And The German National-Socialist Government 1933 to 1937 – Part 9 Contact Details for the KIT-Volunteers 1 1 2 3 3 3 4 6 7 10 14
Supplement: KIT Address List September 2010 __________________________________________________
Nadine sent this picture of Zu Zu and Liam August Trautwein
Happy Grandparents – Notes from the Hummer
Joy MacDonald, September 4th 2010: Christine Mathis telephoned last night with the wonderful news that their eldest daughter, Giovanna, had just given birth to their first grandchild. The whole family is thrilled. Ian and Giovanna‟s daughter is called Ehlana Christine Barnard. She weighed 6lbs. 12oz. Best wishes from Joy Linda Jackson, September 6th 2010: Ehlana Christine Barnard and Giovanna came home on Sunday morning, so Christine took us for a quick visit, and a welcome cuddle. Here is a picture of the happy grandparents Christine and Jörg Mathis with granddaughter Ehlana. She is absolutely gorgeous, lots of dark hair, a real cutie. Nadine Pleil, July 12th 2010: After six years our daughter Else and husband Rob flew to China on the 9 th of July to pick up their little adoptive daughter. During these six years of waiting and not knowing how things would turn out, they had a chid of their own, Liam August who is now a year old. Their daughter‟s name is Marlene (with the German pronunciation) Leigh, and her Chinese name Zu Zu. She will be called Zu Zu while she is little. She is eighteen months old. We welcome our fifteenth grandchild into the rather large Pleil/Trautwein Family and are all very happy.
A Small KIT Gathering in Bremen
By Erdmuthe Arnold For many years Irene Pfeiffer-Fischer was on the lookout for her classmate Amanda Stängl. At last she succeeded in finding her by writing to Amanda‟s sister, Letitia. Irene invited Amanda and her husband George to Bremen, and sure enough they were keen to accept the invitation even from far away Texas. Irene and her husband Horst invited other old friends and the Friedemann clan for a weekend at the beginning of August 2010 who all knew Amanda from old times in Ibaté. I was invited too, and travelled together with Amanda and George Gurganus via train from the Frankfurt International Airport up to Bremen. Our hosts had renovated a big meeting room in their house, with an extra entrance, kitchen and annexed toilet. So on our arrival we were invited into that part of the house, now called “Casa Primavera”.
Front, from left: Horst and Irene Pfeiffer, Amanda Gurganus; behind: Hartmut Klüver, Stephan Friedemann, Hedwig Herrmann and Jean Roering.
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We had a wonderful time together, often sitting in the garden for our meals, singing many songs, telling each other about past and present times, looking at photos and films, going on walks, and visiting Worpswede Marili Mathäus Friedemann, who could not come herself, had a special gift for us all. She wrote down a song in which she mentioned us all. It was sung to the tune “Ein Mann, der sich Columbus nannt”. Whoever can read and wants to sing it must turn the song around in circles. We had a good laugh doing so.
Requiescat in Peace
Albrecht Wiegand passed away
KIT. Only one week after turning sixty-eight on June, 5th, Albrecht Wiegand died, June 11th, 2010. He had been severely ill for a long time and was finally taken to the hospital after suffering an esophageal rupture. There he caught a bad infection from which he couldn‟t recover. As a kid Albrecht suffered a bad accident in Primavera, falling from a tree. He was found unconscious, and, as it turned out, was no longer able to attend school, so he usually worked with grownups in different work departments, such as the garden. After his family moved to the Sinntal Bruderhof in 1959, Albrecht went to England to escape German military service. There he worked on farms for little money. At one point his mother
The only one who couldn‟t make it was Maris Vigar. She sent Irene a letter telling her that she wanted to stay with her very ill brother Nick, who had to undergo an urgent surgery. We all sent both of them our special greetings, wishing a good recovery.
Albrecht boating down the Tapiracuay River
Waltraut wrote to a friend that he felt homesick and rejected. So he was happy to have contact with his elder, adopted brother William Phew, and also with the German orphan boys, and most probably also with the three Holz brothers. He appreciated it to be invited into the Lord family for Christmas – together with William. Albrecht returned to Germany in about 1969 and got married in 1972. He lived with his wife Regina in Braunsbach, and later on in Kocherstetten, where the couple moved into their own house. Both homes weren‟t far from his parents, Gerhard and Waltraut in Braunsbach-Tierberg. Albrecht was a hard worker and earned good money in a factory. Later on he was divorced from Regina. He was the father of two girls: Christina and Jenny. Albrecht is the third child to pass away of the late Wiegands, Gerhard and Waltraut, nee von Dezengel (both of whom joined the Rhönbruderhof). On August 29th, 1972 his younger brother Johannes had a fatal accident with his motorbike at the age of only 22 years. This was a tremendously hard blow to his parents and the family. About three years ago, in 2007 Karin Mühl (born 1947) was found dead in her apartment. After her marriage was divorced, she had lived alone. She left behind two boys.
Amanda and George sitting and leaning on the sculpture “Bremer Stadtmusikanten”. (Fotos: Gurganus)
Klaus Meier died at Darvell
KIT: In January, 2010 Klaus Meier died at the age of seventyseven at Darvell Bruderhof, after another massive stroke. He had been very ill for some time before. He married Irene Frouke Helwig Fros many years ago in El Arado, and fathered about nine children. Klaus was born March 29th 1932 in Switzerland. He was a baby when his parents Hans and Margrit Meier joined the Rhönbruderhof in 1933. Klaus belonged to the circle of the
Amanda and George Gurganus stayed with Irene and Horst for some days more and visited the center of Bremen. One of their sightseeing trips was to the “Bremer Stadtmusikanten” – a tale of old times, which we grew up with in Primavera, and which was represented in a sculpture. It was very nice to meet and get to know you two. Let‟s keep in touch.
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leaders on the Bruderhof. Together with Irene he had visited several Ex-Bruderhofers in the past few years.
Irene Maendel passed away in Danthonia
KIT: During a longer stay on the Danthonia Bruderhof in Australia Irene Hasenberg Maendel suffered a stroke from which she died on March 8th 2010, at the age of seventy. Her husband Jake Maendel and one of their ten children, Chris were with her. Irene was the oldest child of the late Kathleen and Erich Hasenberg, born on the 11th of January, 1940 on the Cotswold Bruderhof. Four more children followed, who all were born in Primavera: Maureen Herschberger (now the only one living on the Bruderhof), Edith Assel, Jean Roering, Bernd Hasenberg and Brenda Reber. Tragically both Edith (in 1996) and Brenda (in 2003) died untimely of cancer.
Interested?: The BRUDERHOF ESCAPE BOOKS written by Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Miriam Arnold Holmes, Belinda Manley, and Nadine Moonje Pleil are available. Please contact: Margot Purcell, 2095 South Emmas Lane, La Porte, IN 46350 USA, tel: +1 219 324 8068, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
informed in a brief letter. In it, Donald Alexander wrote that Christel passed away peacefully after laboring for more than twenty years with multiple sclerosis. Christel loved working with children.
Susanna Mathis Kleiner passed away
Miriam Holmes to the Hummer, September 13th 2010: Heidi called to let me know that her sister Susanna Mathis Kleiner died last Saturday (September 11th). She had suffered from cancer of the spine for the past years and lived a lot longer than the doctors predicted. Heidi visited her and her husband Peter two months ago at the Catskill Bruderhof. She experienced her sister as frail but very cheerful and loving. Sanna was born on the Rhönbruderhof on October 21 st 1932 as oldest child to Fritz and Martha (Sekunda) Kleiner. She and Peter celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November 2009. They have ten children. One of them died as an infant. We remember Sanna as an energetic, enthusiastic hard working woman. She had artistic talents and was an absolute wonder when it came to the practical day to day skills so useful on the Bruderhof. All but two of her children remain on the Bruderhof. Daughter Leah is with the Hutterites, and son Nathan lives in California. I am sure Peti would appreciate a note from those who remember Sanna. He will miss her terribly.
John Winter passed away at Beechgrove
KIT: John Winter died on March 9th, 2010 on the Beechgrove Bruderhof in England at the age of eighty-nine. Many of the Primavera Sabras will remember him fondly. For many years the Winter family with five children lived in Ibaté. About seven years earlier his wife Anni Margaretta Catton, known as Nancy, also passed away.
Christel Klüver died at New Medow Run
KIT: At the beginning of July, 2010 Christel Klüver passed away at the New Medow Run Community. Christel was born on the 9th of October, 1935 on the Rhönbruderhof to Wilhelm and Charlotte Klüver, and she was the only one of the family who stayed on the Bruderhof. Her sisters and brothers living away from the community, Thomas, Konrad, Renatus, Reinhild, Hartmuth and Karola, were
Monika Trümpi has passed away
By Erdmuthe Arnold Aunt Monika Elisabeth Trümpi died very suddenly on the 23rd of April at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, New York at the age of ninety-two. She had a stroke four days earlier. I talked to Uncle Balz a few days later and he said, “We – her family – were relieved that she is freed from all suffering.” Balz said this with
Monika Trümpi 1999 (private photo)
great sorrow. He felt bad that he did not stay in the hospital the last night of Monika‟s life – as he had the three nights before. Balz great wish was that his wife would die in his arms. The doctor had told Balz that Monika suffered a severe stroke and that she would die within a few days. Balz wanted to take her back home and tried to prepare everything the same evening. Then – during that night – the call came from the hospital. Two daugh-
ters quickly drove there, but they arrived after their mother‟s death. The morning of the 19th of April Monika had been sitting in the kitchen unable to move, she could not speak. It was clear to Balz that she had suffered a stroke. With one of his daughters he called to get her into hospital. She got a private room and good care. As Monika‟s tongue was paralyzed she could not speak, and she couldn‟t swallow properly. But she could hear what was going on. When her son Ebo played the violin for her at her bedside she seemed to relax. But the next day her situation got worse. It was not possible to clear the respiration tract; treatment was a torture and fruitless. With her, the last child of Eberhard and Emmy Arnold has passed away. Monika and Balz were married a lifetime - 72 years! For nearly fifty years they lived in Hide Park, New York – where they moved soon after they left the Bruderhof as a family in the summer of 1961. So really, Monika and her husband Balz, now ninety-five years of age, are longtime residents of Hyde Park. Their obituary in the local paper reads: “Mrs. Trumpi was trained in Switzerland as pediatric nurse and worked as a private duty nurse for various local families because she loved working with children. She also tutored students in the German language. She loved riding her bicycle around Hyde Park until she obtained her driver‟s license. Her biggest thrill was visiting her family and friends. She attended the Friends Meeting House in Poughkeepsie.
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ing in 1991. On their way to the KIT gatherings in later years they all would pass by in Hyde Park and found there an open home. They enjoyed singing songs together – Balz accompanying them on the piano.
Remembering my Aunt Monika
By Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe It saddened me to hear about Aunt Monika's death. She was the last of Eberhard and Emmy Arnold‟s children to pass away. I loved her as well as Uncle Balz dearly. At many times in my life they became very important to me. Monika was ninetytwo years old. She had a good long life together with Balz, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at Horseshoe Drive in Hyde Park. I will remember her as a loving and listening aunty, whenever I had difficulties. When our daughter Hanna was sick with cancer and died after three years of fighting, Balz and Monika were there on the phone and by letter to support us. Balz and Monika met each other for the first time in August 1934 – as he told me in a conversation a few weeks ago: The young Swiss schoolteacher Balthasar Trümpi visited the Almbruderhof, taking the bus to Triesenberg. From there he walked up the mountain with the violin under his arm. As he approached the upper tunnel he saw a beautiful girl and thought: “That is what my bride should look like one day.” Balz was impressed by the Bruderhof, situated in such a beautiful spot of the Alps. He got to know the different young people of the community and had especially good and warm discussions with Fritz Kleiner and decided to join. Exactly one year later he walked from the Rhönbruderhof to the district town Veitsteinbach together with Hans Zumpe, to ask for a permit to live in Germany, and this was stamped into his passport. At that time he was twenty one years old. He joined the community and got to know everyone there, mostly young, active people like himself, and especially Monika, then seventeen years old. Although young, her father seemed to agree that they should get to know each other. The same year both experienced together with the Rhönbruderhof community the death of Monika‟s father Eberhard Arnold on November 22nd, 1935. This was a great shock to the family, as well as for all members. Eberhard‟s sons Hardy, Heini and HansHermann were studying in Zürich, Switzerland. My Grandfather made my father Hans Zumpe promise to forbid his sons to reenter Germany if anything should happen to him. He was well
Monika Arnold with her niece Burgel Zumpe 1937 on the Almbruderhof
December 1987 Monika and Balz celebrated their golden wedding – that’s how many KIT people will remember . (private photo)
“Born in Berlin, Germany on February 20th, 1918, she was the daughter of the late Eberhard and Emmy Arnold. “On December 31st, 1937 in England she married Balthasar Trumpi who survives at home in Hyde Park. “In addition to her husband, she is survived by eight children: Anna Monika Pieper and her husband, Robb, Eberhard Trumpi of Red Hook, Gabriele Davenport, Emmy Dall Vechia and her husband, John, of Rhinebeck, Joanna Blair and her husband, Dewey, of Hopewell Junction, Monica Scofield and her husband, Jeff, of Cary, N.C., Balthazar Trumpi of Mill Valley, California, and Margrit Bunk and her husband, Pete, of Hyde Park. She adored her thirteen surviving grandchildren and her fifteen great grandchildren, with the 16th expected in September. “She was predeceased by two infant daughters, Elisabeth and Maria, a grandson, Lucian Trumpi, a sister, Emmi Ma Zumpe, and three brothers, Hardy, Hans-Hermann, and Heini Arnold.” The burial on April 26th and funeral services were private. Mostly family members came together to bid her farewell. Balz had asked a friend, a catholic priest, to speak, and he did so well, describing the life of Monika. The following Prayer of St. Francis Assisi meant very much to Aunt Monika: Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Oh Divine Master; grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, and it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. I am very glad that I ignored the demand of the Bruderhof, to have no contact with Aunt Monika and Uncle Balz. The few times I could I visited them in Hyde Park. From the start there was mutual understanding and a family bond. This meant a lot to me, and the closeness prevails. I also learned from several ExBruderhofers, for instance Nadine and August Pleil, Margot Purcell, her siblings and cousins, how important the contact became to them after once getting in contact again during the KIT gather-
aware that he was a target for the Nazis. He had preached openly against National Socialism and written numerous articles, letters and even books about the Nazi threat. The risk that his sons would be arrested by the Nazis and put in concentration camps as “communists” was great. Therefore
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Hardy, Heini and Hans-Herman were unable to see their father one more time, before he died. No one knew what the future would bring for the little community. When our Grandfather's coffin was brought to the Rhönbruderhof from Darmstadt, Monika was very upset; she was only seventeen years old and had always been a “special treasure” to her father. She was weeping with her hand on the coffin; Balz put his hand on hers quietly, and never let go again for the following seventy-four years. They married in England 1937 on the Cotswold Bruderhof. Balz (Balthasar) was a young teacher from Switzerland and not a full member yet, but he had experienced the little community for some time and knew Eberhard Arnold well. He was willing to join this poverty stricken place to try and find answers to life for mankind, especially during war threatening times in Europe. Monika was the sunshine of the Arnold family, seven years younger than my mother Emmi-Margaret. She was a tomboy who played with her three big brothers. She was always ready to join in any fun with them, and maybe also a little mischief. No tree was too high for her to climb and there was no window on the place she had not climbed in and out of. – This I heard years later, when my husband Hans and I spent our honeymoon in the Rhön, 1963. The farmers knew a lot about the Bruderhof and the Arnold family! I was amazed at their stories. I remember Monika and Balz from a very early age: Fields full of flowers, sunshine, cowbells ringing and a beautiful, young Aunty, who would take me for walks, in the Alps of Liechtenstein. I well remember when in England at the end of 1938 my mother expected Kilian and the educational leadership at the Cotswold Bruderhof thought it was better for me to go to the Oaksey Bruderhof with Balz and Monika.
The older Zumpe children Bette, Ben and Heidi 1937 in Liechtenstein (two photo submitted by Elisabeth Bohlken)
Most probably I was too lively for my mother who was already sick, without us knowing. I loved my Aunt and Uncle but missed my family. They had a small bedroom, and my bed was placed at the foot of their bed. Balz taught the big boys during the day, like Roland, Walla, Schorsch, Costantin and many more of my heroes of that time. I could hear them next door and cried my eyes out, feeling so lonesome and forlorn. One night I got out of bed to go to the toilet right next to the bedroom. I was unable to reach the cord to flush the toilet and climbed on the seat to reach it – it flushed, I lost my balance and fell into the toilet pot, with cold water flushing over my feet. I screamed – Balz came running, held me in his arms, found a dry nighty and warmed my feet. I loved him for that. 1941 in Paraguay, we had no school during our first month in Primavera. We children roamed around, watching the brothers
build houses, working hard in the heat of the tropical sun. Sometimes there was a kind of “Hort”, and we sang together or played games. Once all the groups from England had arrived in Primavera, little straw thatched cabins without walls were built in the wild forest, later known as “Schulwald” (school wood). Each cabin had a primitive school board and simple benches. There was a cabin for every class. Balz was organizing everything and taught in every class. He was the head-master – there was no doubt about that. Apart from that he was our “own” teacher – for all the six and seven year olds. We had run pretty wild, due to all the different experiences and circumstances we had to digest and understand. Balz was a wonderful teacher. I still remember vividly the poems and songs he taught us then. At that time Monika and Balz had two children, Annemone and Eberhard. Then they had a little baby, Maria; she died soon after her birth in 1942. Oma or Moni took me to see little Maria – I remember a little black haired baby, with tiny little hands. It was such a tragedy, so sad and all the schoolchildren had a quiet day, drawing pictures for Balz and Monika. The child that followed was Elisabeth, a lovely, bouncing baby girl, born on the 1st of April 1943. I was sure they called her Elisabeth after me and was very proud of that. Nine months later Elisabeth caught a tropical disease and she was brought to the hospital in Loma Hoby. I remember Monika with the little one in her arms – she was beautiful, fair curls, but dusty from travelling on the sandy road through the forest. She had high fever and pneumonia. I remember waiting for the wagon to arrive in Loma; somehow we knew, and waited to see the cloud of dust, as the wagon came out of the woods. This was on September 8 th, 1943. Monika was very upset, trying to keep the dust out of the little baby‟s face with her Kopftuch. That same day Elisabeth died and we went to sing for her at the hospital. I could not believe she was dead; as I was breathing in and out, I thought her little body was breathing. We children were terribly upset to see her dead, as well as her grieving parents. This is one of the days and experiences I will never, ever forget. Balz went to England with my father and the Johnson family late in 1947 to raise money for Primavera and to see if there was some way to take sixty German war-orphans back to Primavera to give them a new home. The tragic news of Fritz Kleiner‟s death on December 3rd, 1947 reached Balz, Hans, Guy and Eleanor as they were boarding the ship bound for Europe. Fritz died due to an accident in the workshop. Balz told me later this was a terrible blow for all of them. They met to pray and encourage each other, asking for strength and guidance for the days and weeks to come, as well as for the families in Primavera. My Father returned to Primavera late in 1948 with Stanley Fletcher, but Balz was asked to stay in Wheathill, to help the community heal after a time of crisis. It was hard for Aunt Monika, who missed him even longer. She often visited my mother in Loma Hoby - they laughed and cried together. I also remember her excitement when she was allowed to go to Asunción to meet Balz on his return! In 1951 my father was back in Wheathill, and my Mother had to have an operation. Balz came to Asunción to support me. He was absolutely lovely. The way he talked to me made me feel so grown up and accepted. He wrote a daily report about my Mother for my Dad in England. In1953 our family, together with Neckie Böhning left Primavera and moved to Wheathill. As it is with Bruderhof family contacts, we kind of lost each other, but we were always in contact. My mother loved her younger sister and they wrote long letters to each other about their children and community ups and downs. I left Europe for Woodcrest in 1960 with Uncle Heini. I thought Woodcrest was lovely, a beautiful place with joyful members. I wanted to feel at home there. But in 1961 I was sent away to New York City. For the next month I worked really hard
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to get the nurse license for the State of New York. For this I had to pass all kinds of exams and also take a course in psychiatry. I had two choices: go to the very big Pilgrim State Hospital, or to Hudson River State Hospital. I chose the last. One day, feeling lonesome I searched the telephone directory for the name Trümpi – a very unusual name in the States. I found it quickly and telephoned Balz. He said that he would come to visit me first. We went for a drive and he told me about their situation. He asked me not to speak about the Bruderhof in their house, as my cousins and Monika really wanted to build up a new life without all the hurt and baggage of the past years. He also alerted me to the fact that it would be difficult for me to return to the Bruderhof if I had to confess having had contact with the “outcasts”. After that I visited often, since the hospital was not far from the Trümpi home. Christmas 1962 I travelled to Germany to search for my father as well as my brother Kilian. Kilian and I then went to Holland, to see Hans Bohlken, whom I only knew from a visit to the Sinntal Bruderhof. Somehow a spark was still there. I had not seen him for four years, and needed to see and talk to him again. We got engaged New Year‟s night. I had to go back to the States and phoned Balz to ask if he could pick me up at the New York
airport. Balz and Monika both met me there and took me to their home where I stayed for a few days. For the next several months I saw them every week; they were loving and lovely. At the end of May, 1963 I left for Holland again to get married, but we remained in contact throughout the years. In 1985 Balz and Monika came to Oosterwolde to be with us for ten days. I freed myself from family duties for a week to take Aunt and Uncle to our island house at Ameland. We talked and talked; it was so good. Monika still believed in her father‟s dream of unity in community, whereas Balz was very clear about the “Heini-ism” which he wanted to have nothing to do with anymore. But even though hard, they could laugh about it and it was easy to see the glow of love that would stay with them for the rest of their life together. In 1991 I came over to the States for the KIT Conference with my youngest daughter Hanna, and we stayed at their home. This was the last time we saw each other, but stayed in contact by telephone as well as by mail. In Aunt Monika we lose a wonderful person, who looked for ways and means to give love to everyone coming into her life. She always reminded me of my own mother, whom I saw so little since leaving the Bruderhof. I treasure our times together.
Childhood Memories of Primavera in Paraguay
By Hans Zimmermann – Part 1 I am often asked to write down some of my childhood memories from our years living in Paraguay; even my mother passed on this request from the Bruderhof in 1989. They were looking for more stories of the time in Primavera, including names of people we lived with and who had a major influence on our lives. I never complied with that request as I did not trust the Bruderhof to publish or print my story verbatim. I have to admit that my memories have become rather clouded and only with the help of the many different stories about that period published in KIT am I able to reconstruct that time of my life to some extent. The early memories of childhood can be deceiving, as everything in the eyes of a small kid seems immense and endless. DESCRIPTION OF PRIMAVERA Primavera was a wonderful and exciting place, seemingly untouched by civilization. The first village was started 1941: Isla Margarita was situated on a large, mostly grass covered plateau, spotted with a few small wooded islands, the southern part being the large Orange Wood, which was really a subtropical jungle. At one end grew many sweet orange trees. Isla Margarita was surrounded by the low laying campos (grass plains). To the east and northeast it opened up for miles into the Campo Riveroscué and Campo Dolores which extended all the way to the village of Vaca Hú, where on the horizon one could see the hills of San Estanislao (Santaní). To the north and west rose the jungle of Monte Riveroscué, separated from the village by just a thin strip of low campo through which ran the public road, El Camino Real, which was the main connection between Santani and Puerto Rosario on the Paraguay River. From our village one could call over to the woods, and the echo would clearly come back. This shows how close the forests were. Our favorite call was, “Was essen die Studenten?” And the echo would reply “Enten!” To the west and southwest, separating Isla Margarita from the second village Loma Hoby, was the jungle Monte Riveroscué stretching all the way to the River Tapiracuay – forming the southern boundary of our Primavera property, well protected by an impenetrable swamp, crawling with Yacares (Alligators), Carpinchos (Capibaras) Curiyus (large constrictor water snakes) and myriads of ticks. The swamp extended along our southeastern boundary to the jungle of Monte Jaime, separated from Monte Riveroscué by the Campo Invernada and Carabi-ý. Monte Jaime was the most remote and almost inaccessible wilderness in Primavera and had a somewhat mystical aura about it. During wet periods it was only accessible from the eastern end across from the Monte Isla Guazú (large Island) which formed the border on the east side of Primavera. During my last two years in Primavera, Monte Jaime became my favorite place to escape when I wanted to be alone. My excuse was, I needed to train my horses, mostly my favorite horse Mercedes. (See my memories about Mercedes in the KIT Newsletter, April 1998, and July 1998.) I still vividly remember all these jungles as they stood untouched, prior to our efforts to clear them for agriculture and our increasing need for the only source of fuel, fire wood. Loma Hoby was started in 1942 as a small village on a mostly wooded hill, surrounded by Campo Bolsa to the northwest, Campo Loma to the west, and to the south, Campo Guaná, one of our better grass plains, which ended in the swamp of the River Tapiracuay. Loma Hoby was also the location where the previous owner, Rutenberg had his residence, or what is commonly called in Paraguay his Estancia or ranch house. This building had a nice wide verandah around it, a well-house in front, a long arbor with grape vines growing over it, and fruit and banana trees nearby. This building later became the dining room and meeting place for the village which eventually was built around it, with the hospital becoming the focal point. Cattle raising and horse breeding was also centered in Loma Hoby for most of our time in Primavera – until this village and everything west down to the swamps of Guaná was sold to our Mennonite neighbors middle of 1960. At that time the cattle breeding and ranching was moved to Ibaté. The third village, Ibaté was just a small grassy island (potrero) in the midst of the jungle south-west of Isla Margarita: to the west the Monte Riveroscué, to the east and south Monte Abebo. One main feature I still remember was the large number of leaf cutting ants nests which thrived on the high dry ground,
Explanation of the map of Primavera, the location of the Bruderhof communities in Paraguay between 1941 and 1961. Map (1:25.000) and legend courtesy of Roger Allain (first published in the KIT Newsletter, July 1990). [Foto: Erdmuthe Arnold] Location: 24°35' South, 56°42' West; 120 km (72 miles) south of the Tropic of Capricorn. In Paraguay, 120 kilometers northwest of the capital Asunción; 50 kilometers east of the Paraguay River and the river port Puerto Rosario. Area: 7,820 hectares (approximately 20,000 acres or 30 sq. miles). Maximum distance from North to South: 12 km; East to West: 10 km. Soil and Topography: altitude: 100m (350') above sea level. Land forms: Campo (camps): low-lying, flat, dark clay soil covered with grass, and used for cattle grazing. – Monte (woods): plateaus about 60 to 100 feet higher, with red, sandy, very fertile soil, naturally covered by tropical rain forests, used for lumbering and growing crops by the slash-and-burn method of rozados. – Islas: smaller, wooded islands dispersed in the camp. – Potreros: smaller camps dispersed in the monte. – Estero: marshland, in the south, along the Tapiracuay River. Place Names: The oldest features have Indian-Guaraní names (like Mbocayatý = palm tree grove); newer features have Spanish names (like Bolsa = bag), or a combination of Spanish and Guaraní (like Loma Hoby = bluish-green hill; Monte
Riveroscué = forest that once belonged to the Riveros). The newest features had German or English names introduced by the Bruderhof (like Orange Wood). Ownership: Until 1941, Primavera belonged to a German called Rutenberg whose house and ranch were in Loma Hoby and who lived from lumbering, cattle-raising and the exploitation of native labor. From 1941 to 1961 the Bruderhof was owner, first officially registered as Sociedad Fraternal Hutteriana, and later as Sociedad de Hermanos. The population was about 300 in 1941 and 700 in 1960 (including the Bruderhof House in Asunción). The property was sold out by the rump brotherhood to the neighboring Mennonite Colony of Friesland in 1961. Survey and Mapping: The estate was surveyed and mapped by Adolf Braun in 1941 and '42. The Höfe (communal villages) were: Isla Margarita, founded in March, 1941 and abandoned in January, 1962; Loma Hoby, founded in January 1942, and abandoned in September (?) 1960; Ibaté, founded in 1946, and abandoned in 1961. Borders to the North: Mbocayatý, Amambay, Carolina; East: Laguna Hú, Estancia San Vicente Destefano; West: village Rio Rhugua, Mennonite Colony Friesland, and the property of Major Sanches; South: Tapiracuay River and Marshland (Estero), and Estancia Sapena Pastor.
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surrounded by the lush forests from which they harvested the leaves for their sub-terrainean fungus gardens. It always seemed such a desolate place to pass through on the way to the river Tapiracuay. I still remember seeing the skeleton of a large snake hanging across the branches of some bushes, apparently having been picked clean by ants. Ibaté was started in 1946 with the idea of housing German war orphans. However, the German government would not permit them to leave Germany, but suggested that we give many of the Displaced Persons (commonly referred to as DPs) a chance for a new life in Paraguay. Most of the DPs came from Eastern Europe: Russia, Estonia, Lithuania or Poland. When they arrived in 1949, they were divided up between the three villages or Höfe as we called them. Within a year or two, nearly all the DPs had left our community. They had fled communism and socialism, and our community life must have reminded them of something they had just escaped. ABUNDANT AND REWARDING NATURE The proximity to nature, exposure to the weather, the animals, birds, reptiles and insects is still very much alive in me. Our family first lived in Isla Margarita. Among my earliest recollections are lying on a hard bed in one of the quickly constructed buildings with as of yet no walls which we called Halle. “Our” Halle was closest to the main dining room. It was turning dusk and we were being put to bed. From my bed I had an open view across the fields and gardens toward the Orange Wood. The jungle appeared as a dark silhouette. In the sky above, huge cumulus clouds reflected the fading daylight, and out of the clouds came bright flashes of fire. I was all excited and called my mother to ask what this was. She told me, “Isn‟t that beautiful, that is Wetterleuchten [sheet lightening].” She said it in a very calm and assuring way. The lightning was too far away so one could not hear any thunder. I thought it fascinating and watched it with amazement until I fell asleep. With no walls to keep noise out, the sounds of the jungle at night and its closeness were among my first impressions. The howler monkey (Caraya) would howl mostly in the early evening, supposedly an indicator of coming rain or changing weather. The big purple-brown wood hen, Mocoi Cocové could be heard calling from all parts of the jungle in the late afternoon and early evening – an eerie sound. The smaller wood hen could be heard late in the evening, calling out from the high grass and bushes. At night several types of owls could be heard, from the small ones to the big ones. The big owl, Yacurutú made a sound similar to the sound of the large barn owl we have in the Catskills Mountains of New York. We also called them cat owls: Stories had it they came to hunt for our domestic cats. The nightjar (whippoorwill) could be heard mostly on moonlit nights; they never seemed to shut up, however it was a nice call to listen to. But of all the night birds, the Urutaú was the most distinctive, with its sorrowful call which would start on a high note and descend in four steps, something like: nua-ing-wing-wae. During the day this bird would sit on the end of a dead branch. With its brown-gray color it appeared just part of the tree, difficult to detect. I loved the sounds of the different types of crickets, also the sight of the fireflies lighting up the fields by the thousands in the evening. In midsummer the large cicadas would end the day with their evening concert. Just before sun down one could hear them from all the surrounding woods starting with their siren like whistle which would reach a crescendo, ending in a loud blast – like the sound of a steam engine. This would go on until it became fully dark. On occasion, before day break, one could hear the Chiricoé, which lived on the ground, always on the edge of the jungle. The cry of the Chiricoé was a sure indicator of com-
ing rain. In later years one hardly ever heard that bird because the close lying woods had been cut down. After any heavy rain or during the wet season the frogs and toads would start their evening concert, which would go on most of the night. There were at least four different types of large frogs making their distinctive mating calls, which varied in volume and quantity, and many smaller species joined the chorus. Once in a while during the early years in Isla Margarita one could hear the drumming of the butcherbird on warm summer nights. I cannot recall hearing it again during the last few years while in Primavera. FAINT MEMORIES OF THE FIRST YEARS My earliest memories are a blur. I remember constant activity, men fussing around new buildings and trips to the saw mill and carpentry shop where dad worked. I vaguely remember the pits where logs were cut into planks by hand; the noises of the big sawmill and the smell of the sawdust, which was quite strong. The different tropical woods had very strong smells – Lapacho, Paraguayan Cedar, Peterevy, Ivirapytá and Curupa-ý, to name a few. The pile of sawdust grew to what we kids called a mountain. We would often dig holes into the pile, cover ourselves up to our necks and enjoy a natural sauna as the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the moist sawdust. Dug in thus, we would look up into the sky on a cool evening – watching the first stars appear; it was a great place to play. We kids were frequently sick, we had a measles epidemic, chicken pox, eye infections, and our feet infested with the very itchy Ceboí worm. The nurses would pour iodine over the infested area which was quite painful. We were attacked by sand flees, and very painful screw worms. They infested even more dogs, cats and cattle. The only animals free of screw worms were the horses. During the first years many children died from disease and poor nutrition. As young children we learned that sickness and death was part of life. In the community‟s prayers and songs we asked for protection from all evils, spiritual and physical. My parents were Kurt and Marianne (Annemarie) Zimmermann, I had three older sisters: Renate, Mathilde and Emmy. After me followed Kurt and David, and later on three more girls and two boys: Annemarie, Krista, Angelika, Eckehart, and after a few years interval, Johann. The first four kids were born in Germany, Liechtenstein, and England. Kurt was the first to be born in Paraguay, as were the rest. My parents loved to sing, especially my mother who had a good musical education and played all kinds of instruments: violin, recorder, piano, and organ. Dad loved to sing, although he had a terrible time keeping tune. He made up for his lack of musical talent with enthusiasm. There was always some kind of music in the house; if it was not violin or recorder then it was singing. We started the day with a morning song, at noon or Vesper time with a song about nature or a hiking song, in the evening, a song of praise, and all the German lullabies – as there was always a baby or kid who had to be lulled to sleep. The number of German lullabies and evening songs is endless, and my mother was a walking encyclopedia when it came to songs. Many of the songs were centuries old. We kids could not help but learn and love them. Many years later I had to teach my youngest brother some of the melodies when he had his first child. He, being the last, never got to learn many of the German songs. I personally loved to sing, but was less successful with musical instruments. KINDERGARTEN AND PRE-SCHOOL In Kindergarten I start to remember people by name, and events within a specific time frame. My fellows were: Timothy Johnson, Michael Cain, Paul Gerhard Kaiser, Bernhard Dyroff, Lienhard Gneiting, Miriam Arnold, Rosemarie Arnold, Irene Hasen-
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berg, Jane Hazelton, Hannabeth Meier, Ursula Sumner, Klara Arnold, Margareth Friedemann, and Elisabeth Sorgius. I went through our nine years of school with most of these same children, so we got to know each other quite well and also the families, all except for Timothy Johnson, my closest friend, whose family first moved to Loma Hoby, then Ibaté, and later went back to England. Our teachers in the Isla Margarita Kindergarten were Gretel Gneiting and Winifred Dyroff, and occasionally others. I still remember sitting at a long wooden table under a big constrictor tree (Guapoí, belonging to the fig family). That is where we got our first lessons in writing and drawing and also the first stories read and told us. We got to know all sorts of children stories and fairy tales. My attention was divided between the stories and watching other things: various types of parrots were feeding up in the Guapoí tree, or a long green tree snake that had taken up residence in the hollow of the tree the Guapoí had suffocated; it had been his host in which he had originally started as a small seedling in a knothole. The Kindergarten and Pre-school were situated between the kitchen and the school wood. They had their own patch of woods which had a variety of trees, each bearing fruit or seed at different times of the year, attracting all kinds of birds and small animals. One tree I liked in particular was a large Ivahaý. In spring it would have beautiful white fluffy blossoms with the most distinctive sweet aroma which could be noticed from quite a distance. The flowers would later turn into gnarled odd shaped fruit, yellow when ripe, with a sour-sweet flavor, however most would be spoiled before we could get them because they‟d be stung by bees and wasps just before turning ripe. In the first years there were only two Kindergarten buildings. The old make-shift shed, covered with corrugated iron sheets was hot in summer and cold in winter. During the heavy downpours of rain it was very noisy. During siesta we had to sleep on a “Pritsche”, a low wooden bed, hard and uncomfortable. I dreaded siesta and had a hard time going to sleep. It was either hot or cold, depending on the time of the year; in addition the Chopís (black birds) would congregate in the trees, together with the Lorritos (small green and yellow parrots) and sing and chatter for hours. Small house lizards would climb up and down the walls chasing flies. Occasionally one of the big black, yellowwhite Iguanas would make its appearance. We kids called them “Land-Krokodile”, and we were scared of them. The second building was better, built with bricks and close to the laundry, overlooking Campo Riveroscué and the Bee Wood. In this building the smallest kids were kept. SCHOOL WAS SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO Our Pre-school group was eagerly awaiting the move up into the first grade and the big School Wood. At that time there were two long brick school buildings, each with four classrooms. The buildings were parallel to each other and about one hundred meters apart. Right in between, in the middle of an open space, was a palm tree (Mbocayá), with the long sharp thorns on its trunk and fronds. Here the weaverbirds would build their nests every year; two, three or four long hanging baskets on each of the twelve to fifteen fronds. These birds were extremely noisy and a major distraction during school hours. There was another smaller building amongst the trees, with only two rooms, which we called the English hut. This was the first schoolhouse. Later Eric Phillips, our gym- and science-teacher, built a work shop which was extended every year with the help of the school kids. During this process he taught us how to use tools to build a house and doors, windows, shelves, et cetera.
Later on another building was constructed on the east end of the School Wood, next to the old horse and ox stable. Led by the three kings, (Fritz Kleiner always played the Moor) we all would go in a long procession at Christmas time from the dining room, along the vegetable gardens, in between the Kindergarten and the School Wood to the stables, which overlooked Campo Riveroscué and Campo Dolores. With live oxen, horses, donkeys and sheep, the nativity scene always made a great impression on us kids. It all seemed so real: the open campo down below where one could hear the cattle lowing, the smell of horse and cow manure, the dark sky with myriad of stars and no electric light pollution, seemed to set us back to the time of Jesus birth. I always imagined the shepherds coming up from the open fields below to see the miracle of Jesus' birth. At Easter time the community would gather at the same spot waiting for the sunrise with the still dark Campo Dolores below, a few cork trees and Mbocayá palms offset against the first light of dawn and the Chopí bird in the palm trees announcing the coming day (the way the robins do here in the USA). The morning mist was still hanging over the damp campo as dawn broke slowly, but then quickly turning light. The sun still below the horizon would turn the cirrus clouds into a bright red, then changing to a pink yellow and finally the sun literally popped over the horizon and it was day. The School Wood was a great place for us kids. It covered about five to six acres, one third of which was cleared from the dense underbrush, the rest was still untouched and a perfect microcosm of Paraguayan jungle vegetation. Here one could find many different species of deciduous trees, palms, bamboo and shrubs. We did not have to go far to learn firsthand about nature. Many of the trees bore edible fruits. We loved to eat Araticú (wild Chirimoya). There were two kinds very similar, except that one had rather brittle branches (as Heiner Kleiner found out when one of the branches broke: he fell and incurred a severe head injury). There was a wild mulberry tree (Tatayivá); the fruit was about the size of a fig, slightly yellow when ripe with a tart sweet taste. The Guajavý Hú had a small black fruit with a pit like an olive; it was sweet, pungent and sticky. There were also wild cherry trees, but the birds always got to them first. The Ingá tree had a long fruit like a bean pod. The seed inside was covered with a white fleshy skin, which was delicious to eat, a favored food for birds, monkeys and also us kids. The Ingá tree was mostly found along rivers and in swamps. It lined both shores of the Tapiracuay River. (In the picture of the river house on page 104 of Belinda Manley‟s book, “Through Streets Broad and Narrow,” the tree overhanging the river is an Ingá tree.) Another common tree was the Aguaí which had a tasty sweet yellow fruit. There were also a variety of bushes with berries, some edible, others poisonous. In Primavera we had two types of palm trees: The Pindó had no thorns and grew mostly in the woods, preferably in low lying areas with more moisture. Pindó had a fruit similar in shape to a date which grew in bunches. We loved to chew them; so did the parrots. We used to climb up the smooth, slippery trunk to pick the fruit. The other palm was the already mentioned Mbocayá, with thorns. Its round fruit was nearly the size of a golf ball and grew in big bunches. The green shell was hard and thin; the kernel inside was covered with a fleshy pulp (similar to a mango). The cows loved them; they would chew them until they were nicely polished. We would look for the little piles of polished kernels on the campo, take them home and crack them open with a hammer. We kids would also chew them when they fell from the tree, but they were rather smelly, and in school the teachers did not want us to come in to the classroom chewing smelly palm kernels.
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REMEMBERING OUR TEACHERS Our teacher in first grade was Roger Allain. Initially I thought I‟d never learn how to read, but with his help it turned out that reading was not all that difficult, and school with him was fun. In second grade we had Hans-Hermann Arnold; he taught us basic math. To me he came across as a disciplinarian, devoid of any humor, but then, at the time he was also the principal, so all the problems were his to solve: not always an easy task. I believe we began to learn English right from the beginning, and had either Edith Barron or Edna Jory as our teachers. English was not my favorite subject, as I had trouble with the “th” (and still have), but they did manage to make it interesting, reading stories, poetry and teaching us English songs. Eric Philips was our gym teacher and I could not think of any one making it more fun and interesting. He taught us soccer, rounders, long jump, high jump, relay racing, table tennis, the high bars, and parallel bars, swimming and basic calisthenics. It is because of him that I was able to discipline myself to continue exercises, to run, swim and to stay physically fit up to this date. Eric has been a real role model for me; he did everything with great enthusiasm and had boundless energy. He lived together with other single men in a nice house behind the school wood, which we called the Jugendherberge (youth hostel). Later the school soccer field and other athletic facilities were located on the field behind the school wood. In the third and fourth grade we had Wolfgang Loewenthal as our main teacher. He taught us German grammar, many songs, some of which he wrote himself about Primavera and Para-
This must be Hans Zimmermann’s class with Hans-Hermann Arnold as teacher. The picture was published in a Bruderhof brochure about the early years in Paraguay.
guayan nature. He would read to us about Germanic mythology and the German Heldensagen (sagas), like the Nibelungen story and others. He also gave us our first geography lessons, starting with our own property Primavera. I loved drawing maps, and the map of Primavera is impregnated in my mind with each forest, campo, wood island, watering hole, spring and river. – I could not wait to be old enough and go exploring. The school days had a long pause of about forty five minutes during which we were served a snack – called second breakfast. During that pause we engaged in sports, such as soccer, rounders or Völkerball. Another favorite game was Ketten fangen, where all ages could participate and all children were included. When we had more time we played Robbers and Princesses. This game required that two teams were formed equal numbers of girls and boys. Each team then chose a chief and built its den – both were about hundred meters apart and consisted of just a drawn circle on the ground. The object was for the robbers to raid the other camp and steal the women. The kids in Germany had played this game on the Rhönbruderhof. Wolfgang once told us a story about how they played this game. His team selected Joseph Stängl as their chief. Heini Arnold, then a lanky tall fellow objected, saying, “How can you chose this short little fellow as our chief, he is nothing more than an abgebrochener Riese” – meaning a truncated giant. Well, you have to know Joseph; he was short and stocky, but built like a bull. He stepped up to Heini and said, “Let me show you what a truncated giant can do,” and with that punched Heini in the stomach, sending him flying onto his rear end. I loved having Wolfgang as our teacher, and was rather unhappy when he was moved to do other tasks and perform other functions. Other teachers were Franzi Whitty, who taught history and German grammar. She was such a nice person, we liked her a lot. However, we also made fun of her because she had difficulty pronouncing the German “kn” sound like in Knie (knee), so we would sing a little ditty for her, “Knusper, knusper knäuschen, wer knuspert an meinem Häuschen, der Knabe, der Knabe der kneift sich ins knochige Knie.” Marei Braun was our history teacher, I loved history, and she took us from the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, to the Egyptians, Greeks and Roman empires. This was fascinating stuff for me; I always wanted to be able and ride like Alexander the Great. Fritz Pfeiffer was our math and physics teacher: a real disciplinarian, with an intimidating voice, but he was able to make the subjects interesting, so school was something to look forward to, however the final exams (“Prüfungen”) always remained scary. To be continued
The Confrontation Between The Bruderhof And The German National-Socialist Government 1933 to 1937 – Part 9
By Hans Zumpe ANOTHER SIDE OF GERMANY Arnold Mason and I then went to the Agricultural Minister and other authorities in Berlin. From what we gleaned, it appeared we would be left in peace for a few more months. Apparently nothing would happen regarding the Bruderhof until the Reichs Resettlement Corporation [Reichsumsiedlungsgesellschaft] gave the word. This trip to Berlin was interesting. We found out a few things from other people who, like ourselves, would not bow to the National Socialist forces. Here are a few examples: In Lübeck nine priests of the “Confessional Church” [Bekenntnisfront or Bekennende Kirche] had been dismissed at once. Then, when a National Socialist priest entered the pulpit, the whole congregation stood up and walked out in protest. In Berlin, the Gestapo took Pastor Kuebler from the pulpit on the 1 st of December. – In Dresden a visiting missionary announced that “the whole country shouts Heil, but it does not mean a true Hail for Christ!” That meeting was banned. – In Offenbach/Main a secret Social Democrat Party group was dissolved and thirty men sent to the concentration camps. – The Evangelical Jew, Pastor Frank in Hamburg stated that for reasons of conscience he would not stop his conversion work with Jews. – The Evangelist Heitmüller in Hamburg continued to speak “amongst friends” in favour of genuine Evangelism because the Gestapo had banned him from
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NOTES BY THE EDITOR: Hans Zumpe presented a condensed version of this report during meetings in Primavera on 26th and 28th July 1945 for the 25th anniversary of the Bruderhof. While quotes from Eberhard Arnold and newspaper clippings etc. are reproduced verbatim, the Hans Zumpe report has been edited using modern terminology, but eliminating none of the content. More about the history of this account and its translation into English can be found in the “ Introduction to Hans Zumpe‟s Report from 1945” in the Keep In Touch Newsletter No 3 Dec. 2007, page 8, which also contains the first part of this report. Comments in angled brackets [ ] are explanations by the editors. SA: Nazi Sturmabteilung/Braunhemden SS: Nazi Schutz-Staffel/Schwarzhemden
speaking in public. – The American Quaker, Dr. Martin was much in demand in the Quakers' Berlin headquarters. We had long discussions with him and he told us that many young people asked him for advice on how to deal with the question of military service. He was only able to give them the imprecise answer that each must act according to his conscience. In a Berlin suburb by the river Havel, dissatisfied intellectuals found another centre in the house of Dr. Günther Loewenfeld (brother-in-law of Oskar Beyer). Here we had open discussions about the true conditions in Germany. At times between thirty and fifty people were said to have met. Paul Tillich [Professor of Theology, who emigrated to America] was a frequent welcome visitor. This was the other Germany. Admittedly there was no established movement, but there were many worried and dissatisfied people, several of whom risked their lives. We ourselves who were lead out of Germany in such a wonderful way do not want to forget them. THE FATE OF THE RHÖNBRUDERHOF UNCERTAIN At the turn of the year 1936/1937, on all three of our places, we considered how and to what extent we could retain the Rhönbruderhof. On the one hand we thought we should hold on to it as a strong witness of community life in Germany. On the other hand the restrictions were getting more and more threatening, and an organised winding down seemed the best option. We reminded ourselves that we could only leave the Rhönbruderhof for reasons of our faith. Towards the end of January 1936 [should be 1937], we would surely face the final shut down of our community. A letter which we had been expecting arrived from Berlin in the middle of December. The head of the Reichs Land Acquisition Office in Berlin W.9, wrote to us on the 15 th of December 1936. The letter with the file number: Tgb. Nr. Ld. 2828/36, Voe/Wa was signed by a deputy ministry official. It said: ”I intend to form an opinion as to whether your Bruderhof businesses can be commandeered according to the Law of Land Acquisition For Military Purposes, of March 29 th, 1935. The plan is to create a future military training ground for the local farmers Tgb. Nr. Ld. 2828/36, Voe/Wa. The necessary survey will be carried out by the Reichs Resettlement Corporation, Berlin W.9, Saarlandstr. 128, under my direction. The said corporation will contact you to arrange the inspection of your businesses. I ask you to permit the inspection in accordance with the above law.” The inspection by the Reichs Resettlement Corporation was to take place at the beginning of the new year. In feverish haste we attempted to make preparations. We reconnected with a
Mennonite named Michel Horsch, brother of John Horsch in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, who was to play an unhappy role in the course of our history. He came to help us on the instructions of his brother in North America. We were eager to accept this offer, especially for the Rhönbruderhof. We realized it was getting serious, and that the government was pursuing a plan to sell our property and organize an auction of our assets. We learnt this from a letter which Prince von Schönburg auf Schloss Waldenburg wrote on the 23rd of January 1937. He wrote to Emmy Arnold on black bordered paper: “Dear Mrs. Arnold. A while ago I received an inquiry from a government department in Hessen from which I concluded that the Bruderhof is to be auctioned off under a compulsory purchase order. I would be very grateful if you could let me know briefly what your current plans are and what led up to this? From the booklet issued after your husband‟s death, it appeared that the economic situation of the Bruderhof was fairly healthy, so I was very much surprised to hear about this. With most sincere greetings I am your humble servant, Fürst Schönburg.” The inspection of the Bruderhof by a Dr. Goering took place on the 15th of March. He was a true professional, well able to evaluate our agricultural work. We had produced extensive documentation in preparation for selling the Bruderhof to the Reichs Resettlement Corporation advantageously. We had prepared ourselves in every possible way for this eventuality. The last of the archives, as well as the large library had already been sent to England. However, even on the viewing date the sale seemed doubtful: Dr. Deffner phoned us from the Reichs Resettlement Corporation to tell us that the Bruderhof would not be taken over by the Reichs Land Acquisition Office for the time being and that an inspection of our businesses would not necessarily be required. A few days later, on the 19th of March, the Kreissparkasse [bank] in Fulda foreclosed on a mortgage of 3500 Reichsmarks. There was no justification for this. We had a current account with them. Even more surprising was what happened with the foreclosure on the house mortgage. According to the law, a foreclosure could only be effected if interest had not been paid, or if there was evidence that the building was not being used according to the submitted plans of use. The interest had been paid, but they maintained that the plans of use did not coincide with actual use because four rooms had been designated as kitchens, but were not being used as such. That was because we had a communal kitchen for the whole community. The authorities were aware of this when they gave us the mortgage in 1928, and it had never been challenged before. Although we installed kitchens in these four rooms after the first complaint, the foreclosure still remained in force. They also wanted an additional back payment of seven per cent interest for the full duration of the mortgage: from 1928 to1937! On top of the basic figure of 15,000 Reichsmarks we were now supposed to pay an additional sum of 9450 Reichsmarks. A trip to Kassel did not help. A chat with the deputy Governor Flach was extremely disappointing. He acted as though he knew nothing about it, even though I had just been referred to him. When I visited Dr. Goering in Berlin, on the 25 th of March, to find out if the Reichs Resettlement Corporation was going to buy the Bruderhof, I could not get anything out of him either; in fact he seemed rather cool. We concluded that the situation had changed, and we might not be able to sell the property at all. Something else would probably happen to lead to the termination of our work in Germany. So we drew up several plans for the termination of our work. We addressed a memorandum to the District Councilor, but did not submit it.. We wanted to wait and see what would happen next. There is a copy in our archives, but I cannot access it at the moment.
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TWO HUTTERITES EXPERIENCE THE LAST DAYS AT THE RHÖN On the 4th of April we gathered for the Lord‟s Supper at the Rhönbruderhof. It is unforgettable for me, because afterwards we stayed together for a long time and sang many songs. Suddenly Trautel [Dreher nee Fischli] shouted out spontaneously: “Now they can come!” And they did come, ten days later on the 14 th of April 1937! By then the two Hutterian Brothers from North America and Canada, David Hofer and Michael Waldner, had come to the Rhönbruderhof. They had arrived in England on the 9th of February 1937 and had stayed on the Cotswold Bruderhof until Easter, where they held a baptism and the Lord‟s Supper. They then travelled to the Rhönbruderhof and experienced the difficult final days with us. David Hofer describes the dissolution so vividly, and we have his printed report, so I don‟t need to go into details. But let me quote from another report about the last day of the dissolution: “On Wednesday the 14th April, at eleven o‟clock in the morning, the Bruderhof was occupied by forty officials from the Secret Police in Kassel, the District Administration in Fulda and the local Fulda Constabulary. The leading official declared the Bruderhof community dissolved, and the management relieved of all responsibility. Our request for the reason for this was answered by the explanation that our community is „no longer welcome‟ in Germany. The official of the Secret Police stated that all Bruderhof members must leave the premises in the next few hours. An official from the District Administration confiscated all passports after it was suggested to him that some of the men must be due for compulsory military service. Meanwhile an armed policeman invited the men eligible for conscription to attend muster on the 8th of May. This was followed by a thorough examination of all personal details. At the same time a house search took place in which many items were seized or simply confiscated. Not only correspondence and photographs were taken, but also barometers and other items. We were given the opportunity to make a few requests. Each person could take a few mementoes, but only a small bundle of essential clothing and crockery. “Rhönbruderhof residents were advised to return to their place of origin. Work had to stop, and it was announced that on the following day a commando labour force would take over the Rhönbruderhof. We were told this was a preliminary measure, and we would be told more next day. “This house search brought with it a lot of unpleasantness. Things that were holy to Rhönbruderhof members were mocked and ridiculed! At least the foreigners were treated kindly, but a German was threatened with the concentration camp if he did not disclose what we were supposed to have buried. In the Bruderhof burial ground several holes were dug, because they believed that something was buried there, which was not the case. An armed policeman set up his headquarters on the Bruderhof. Anyone leaving the hof temporarily had to book in and out with him!” EXTRACTS FROM OUR SUBSEQUENT APPEAL TO THE GESTAPO Here are some quotes from our written complaint which we sent from England to the Gestapo in Berlin: “The dissolution of the society and the confiscation of the society‟s assets were carried out according to officials on the grounds of paragraphs 1 and 4 of the Decree for the Protection of Nation and State in Repelling the Subversive Communist Forces, issued on February 28th, 1933. It was only later that an additional charge was added, accusing us of deception and false accounting by overestimating our assets for the purpose of gaining a higher credit rating. The dissolution order of the 9 th of April, 1937 was not handed over in writing to the Board Members of the Neuwerk-
Bruderhof e.V. – despite several requests. The first written reference to the dissolution decree was made in the court order of the [Hessen-Nassau] Supreme Court in Kassel. The departure of the members with their children was ordered with immediate effect. The German nationals were to return to their place of origin, and the foreigners were to be taken to their countries nearest consulate in Frankfurt for them to deal with. The three Board Members present were arrested. There was no opportunity for lodging an on-the-spot-complaint against the enforced measures. In reference to this, a very strange remark was made by Commissar Koslowski, namely that it was actually possible to raise an objection with the Secret Police in Berlin, but that it would be a waste of time.“ ALL EXCEPT FOUR MEMBERS WERE ABLE TO LEAVE GERMANY To our great delight, all our remaining members at the Rhönbruderhof were actually able to leave Germany together during the next few days – at our expense. All except the three who had been arrested, Hans Meier, Hannes [Boller] and Karl [Keiderling], as well as Hella [Römer], who was kept back to work with an official to get the business accounts in order. Initially thirtytwo went to Holland and eleven to the Almbruderhof. Arno and Ruth [Martin], who were just on a visit to the Rhön from the Almbruderhof, had returned [to Liechtenstein] on the 15th of April, to tell us about what was happening. Thereupon Adolf [Braun] took a flight to Holland to prepare for the reception of the group. I followed a little later by train. Some time earlier we had already made plans for such an eventuality. During the World Congress in 1936, we had taken note of the suitability of the Mennonite‟s conference center as temporary accommodation for our community. This many people could not really travel to England all at once, because the Home Office still required a financial guarantee for each foreign member. Our brothers and sisters arrived at Bilthoven on the 17 th of April. They were a shabby looking group, each with only a meager bundle of possessions. But they were all happy and thankful to have escaped from Germany with a clear conscience. In Holland they were warmly welcomed by the Mennonites; more about that later. The smaller group, who had gone to the Almbruderhof, had also made it safely across the Swiss border. AUTHORITIES IN GERMANY WANTED TO INSTIGATE PROCEEDINGS FOR FRAUD Now our focus returned to those who had remained in Germany. From Holland, we asked our attorney in Hanau, Dr. Eisenberg to represent us in winding up the affairs of the Rhönbruderhof. At the same time we asked Adolf‟s brother, Dr. Werner Braun for help. He had been auditing our accounts for years. Both agreed by telegram to help in so far as this was possible. We had found out that the German authorities wanted to cover up their actions by taking out legal proceedings for fraud against the Board Members who had been arrested. However, there were copies of all documents pertaining to the assets and debts of the Rhönbruderhof at the Bruderhofs in both England and Liechtenstein. So – if legal action were to be taken – we would be able to provide our representatives with a lot of evidence. Dr. Eisenberg had already written to us on the 26 th of April: “In the interim, I have been in contact with the District Court in Fulda by phone and have established that a judicial warrant for the arrests had been turned down. We are therefore dealing with preventative detention here, which I am now attempting to have revoked!” But on that same day the judicial warrant authorizing the arrest arrived. The preventative detention was converted to pretrial detention by order of the criminal division of the District Court
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in Hanau am Main. Our brothers were now put under constant pressure in an attempt to ensure that the foreign Bruderhofs would pay the current account debts of the dissolved Rhönbruderhof. We flatly refused. After the measures taken by the authorities, we could not see that this had anything to do with us anymore. Dr. Eisenberg wrote on the 8th of May: “Regarding your friends, I can tell you that I visited them on the 8th of May 1937. They are in the best of health and are in full agreement with your suggestions. “I can also tell you that there has been a misunderstanding. When questioned, your friends did not in any way promise payment of outstanding commitments by the foreign Bruderhofs. They merely said that they would support the suggestion that there should be some payment from abroad. They are also aware that they have allowed themselves to be somewhat intimidated, but the standpoint you suggest is absolutely right. I will now lodge an appeal against their arrest and attempt to have your friends released on legal grounds. Should this not be possible, I think it might be necessary to arrange a meeting in Holland to discuss a compromise, for instance that maybe some money should be transferred to Germany. “I take it for granted that you know that I have a full grasp of the situation. I am well aware what the actual legal position is. But in certain circumstances it may be better to deal with facts rather than refer rigidly to the legalities. … “Furthermore, I have had a brief telephone conversation with Mr. Hohmann, who is dealing with the matter at the District Administration in Fulda, in order to get the affair into proper channels. I have discussed everything in detail with your friends. In particular I have made them aware of the content of your letter. I have also impressed upon them that they must not lose courage, as it should all be sorted out soon. First thing Monday morning I will have a look at the court records, as far as I have access to them, and will then come back to the matter in hand.” ATTORNEY LODGED APPEAL AGAINST THE WARRANT OF ARREST The grounds for the arrest was alleged fraud. Our attorney lodged an appeal against this with the [Hessen-Nassau] Supreme Court in Kassel. The following is from his submission of the 10 th of May 1937: “There is no adequate reason for suspicion that a crime has been committed … There can be no talk of fraud or attempted fraud. Right to the end, the Rhönbruderhof was supported very extensively by their friends, the Bruderhofs abroad. All suppliers were fully aware of the fact that the Rhönbruderhof‟s economic situation was restricted, especially since any chance of running a school was prevented by order of the authorities several years ago, and then the selling of books [on a peddler‟s license] was also prohibited in Germany. This sale mainly covered literature about the early Christians. The total sales from the Eberhard Arnold Verlag, which belonged to the Rhönbruderhof, were obviously greatly reduced, resulting in dependence on sales from book shops alone. “The members of the Rhönbruderhof were however able to rely on the continued support from the foreign Bruderhofs. In the year 1936 alone, with the approval of the foreign exchange offices, a sum of over 10,000 Reichsmarks was imported. ... “The accused pastor Hans Boller, who like the graduate engineer Hans Meier is a Swiss national, provided the Bruderhof all in all with a fortune of about 90,000 Reichsmarks. The money was principally used for conversions and new buildings. This in itself demonstrates that here we are dealing with idealists, who would never think of harming others. Suppliers were never given
misleading information about the economic situation. Because of the prevailing circumstances, the Rhönbruderhof was no longer able to pursue its work, to represent the ideals of a Brotherhood publicly. So the possibility of liquidating the Rhönbruderhof had already been considered. This appeared more likely after the sudden foreclosure of the mortgages with the District of Fulda. The reason given was that the loan they were granted about nine years ago had not been used in its entirety according to the legal requirements. The District Administration in Fulda has known for years how the money had been used, because the building had been passed by the buildings inspectorate. If this foreclosure had not been acted on, then the foreclosure of the mortgage with the Kreissparkasse would surely not have occurred at about the same time. The foreclosure itself was not a serious threat, as according to the Enforcement Protection Laws an execution was not possible. Following the seizure of the assets of the Rhönbruderhof, and the subsequent dissolution, it is understandable that the foreign Bruderhofs do not feel inclined to transfer any more money. If the correct procedures were followed, all commitments could have been paid off in full. A valuation from a purely agricultural perspective gives an incomplete picture because the Rhönbruderhof is not primarily an agricultural business, but a community of a special kind, whose involvement in agriculture is secondary “…No one would be willing to come forward and speak against these two accused individuals to testify that they had acted fraudulently in any way by ordering goods purely for personal or mutual profit. “Mr. Hans Meier took great care in what he authorized, always keeping within the limits of his responsibility. In the year 1936, there was also the foreclosure notice on the Wehner mortgage for the sum of about 8000 Reichsmarks. It was possible to repay this sum almost entirely, bar a small residue. If in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Bruderhof and the enforced departure of its members abroad, there has been a depreciation of the assets, Hans Meier is not responsible for this. “In order to discharge the debts, the commissioner in charge has the whole inventory at his disposal, which according to the available records is more than enough, to pay off any commitments due on the account by public sale of assets. It was well known in the neighbourhood of the Rhönbruderhof that its members lived in personal poverty according to the ideals of the early Christians. The community life was still in the stage of development. Like any development, such a project takes time, maybe five to ten years. In the middle of this development, the Rhönbruderhof was hit by various restrictions imposed by the authorities. After a while the members realized that their work was not welcome in this area. The Board Members of the Bruderhof believed they would have the opportunity for a normal winding down of the businesses, because at that time, the authorities had stated there was no charge pending against the Bruderhof. Just on the 12th of April the Board Members of the Bruderhof had had a discussion with the District Councilor in Fulda, in which they quite freely expressed their willingness to relinquish the property. Prior to that the Reichs Resettlement Corporation had already selected the property and been for a viewing – with the intent to purchase. Previous usage had been taken into account when offering a price. Only two days before the sudden compulsory dissolution of the Neuwerk-Bruderhof e.V. and the confiscation of all assets did the Board Members find out by chance that the corporation‟s purchase would not go through. Now that the accused have been deprived of any possibility of free negotiation, the route to a normal liquidation has been fundamentally changed. In summing up, it has to be said that there can be no justification for the accusation of fraud.”
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We had hoped that the Swiss Embassy would take an interest, but were not told anything except for an answer from our attorney Dr. Eisenberg to our request. We received a copy. Dr. Eisenberg wrote on the 10th of May (amongst other things): “The Swiss nationals pastor Hans Boller and graduate engineer Hans Meier are not currently under preventive detention, but under pretrial detention in the District Court Jail in Fulda. I have lodged an appeal against the warrant of arrest, which was only issued during the complaints proceedings.
“Pastor Max [Hans] Boller has, according to him, given money to the value of about 90,000 Reichsmarks to the Rhönbruderhof. This can be verified from the accounts. Substantial conversions were carried out with his money. The benefits of these conversions, which would have served him for life, have been lost through the confiscation and dissolution of the Bruderhof. “If it is your intention to take any further action, I ask you respectfully to keep me informed.” To be continued
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