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.org Newsletter 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 and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily 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 Arnold The 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 Erde los.” (“I have travelled through the World, and the World is lovely and is large; but still a great longing draws me far away from this Earth.”) Christian life in Community. I then devoted over 31 years of my life to them. They aimed to prove that an entirely different way of life on earth is possible. It happened during 1920/21, after World War I. In Germany civil war broke out, and the worrying question was: who was going to rule the country? As a small child, I saw some men, struggling to drag a two wheel cart through the streets, it was full to overflowing with bodies of victims of the war. It was such a shocking sight, that even today, at 72 years old, I can see it clearly before me. Also the soldiers who survived the terrible war, returned with stories of heroic deeds and exploits, bragging about what they had done to the so called enemy. This instigated the young boys to play war games too. In fact up to 200 of them from Ost- and West-Eisenach went into the Ziegelwald woods and fraught each other with all imaginable weapons, including fire arms even. The dead must be lamented. The Police and Military had to intervene in order to end the fighting. CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH I was born in Eisenach / Thüringen on 28th January 1914, the first son of Reinhold and Anna Fischer, two younger brothers followed. I went to school between the ages of 7 and 14, followed by a three year apprenticeship as a salesman. Straight after that, in 1931, I became unemployed and shared the fate of the masses – 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 ever spoke about it. He was posted to the Cavalry, and returned uninjured. We lived in the town centre, but in 1921 moved to the outskirts in a house that belonged to one of my father’s brothers. My father was a farmer and a black-smith. His ancestors lived on the same farm for over 400 years, and always learned a second trade like black-smith or weapon manufacture etc. After the move, we had more room in the house, as well as a large garden. Food was very scarce and basic. My cousins built a large wire cage in the garden into which we could lure sparrows, so that we could catch them. They served as a good addition to the meagre, short rations, and tasted alright. What one won’t do when suffering pangs of hunger! My father worked in the only big factory in Eisenach, which manufactured bicycles, motor bikes and later also cars. Today it is Wartburg-Hersteller, the biggest car factory in the DDR (German Democratic Republic). At the weekends before we moved, my father used to cycle 20 kilometres to his brothers, who still had farms, to help them out. He always returned with a rucksack full of edible goodies. In later years, after 1923, each Autumn on the farm a fatted pig would be slaughtered, and prepared as meat, sausages, lard, brawn and some would be smoked; so we always had enough meat until the following year. As a ten year old I used to look

That’s how most of us will remember the Fischer family in Primavera. From the left: Friedrich, Lucrezia, Markus, Lini with Matthias, and Wilhelm with Giovanni (missing: Johanna, Ludwig, and Willhelm jun./Guillermo). The picture was taken about six months before Wilhelm and Lini were sent to England with the youngest four children 1960. All together 176 Bruderhof people from Primavera and El Arado were booked on the Virgin overseas flight with Varig on August 23, from Rio de Janeiro to Germany and England.

During the past 25 years we have met many of our old friends and acquaintances, and have spoken of our lives and all the experiences we have been through together. Many repeatedly expressed the wish that these memories should be put in writing before they are lost forever. So I wrote down my memories, which by no means claim to give a full picture of our past. At the age of six, I had an experience that was to be decisive for my life. It lead me during my youth, aged 14 – 17 to join the Editorial note: This report is a transcript of a hand-written manuscript by Wilhelm Fischer, written at the age of 72 – in 1986. It has been transcribed and edited by Erdmuthe Arnold, and translated by Linda Lord-Jackson. The photos are mostly thanks to the supply of Albums by Erna and Werner Friedemann as well as Ludwig and Irene Fischer (now Pfeiffer). Irene also contributed to the identification and notes with the photographs.

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forward to going there with my father. We set off pulling a four wheeled cart. In the summer holidays I was also allowed to spend one or two weeks with my uncles on their farms. One of my uncles worked as horseman for a brewery in Eisenach. He was away for one or two weeks with his large horse drawn wagon delivering beer to all the villages. I was allowed to go along with him, to hold the reigns and drive and guide the two big horses. Often my uncle would go to sleep behind the driver’s seat; I was a little apprehensive now and then when we came to a steep hill. At the same time I was proud to be able to reign in and stop the horses. After the move to the outskirts of Eisenach, we were only a few minutes away from the joining of the rivers Hörsel and Nesse. In summer it was near enough to go swimming, and in winter we could ski and play ice-hockey. Strangely enough at the junction of the two rivers, the Nesse froze, but the Hörsel never did – not even in the worst winter, at over 20° below freezing. So we could ride the ice floes. We would saw or chop off large pieces of ice, on the Hörsel. Then one or two of us would stand on the ice-floe and glide slowly on the current to a weir, much further down. We had to be very careful not to get driven over the weir. This was a very daring and dangerous thing to do, but great fun. We could also learn to ski, on the steep hill nearby. We even built our own ski-jump out of snow, and made our own skis. We used the curved wooden panels from the sides of the big beer barrels. They were well and it was good fun. The years 1923/24 brought us inflation. Money no longer had any value. Every day, when my father got home from work, he asked how the Mark was valued today according to the paper. Every days wage would be spent straight away. My father usually went right out again to do the shopping before the shops shut, because the next day he would only get half as much for his money. For example: 1. In December 1923 one had to pay 100 million Marks for a letter within Germany. 2. Two women set off to go shopping with a laundry basket full of bank notes. The basket had a cover for protection from the wind. They put it down in front of a shop while they checked out the prices. Just at that moment someone came by, saw the basket, emptied out the bank notes, and took the basket. It was worth more than the bank notes. In those years my father took on a second job. He looked after a large piece of land, which had belonged to a well to do man, now deceased. His wife and sister still lived in the villa. As the eldest son, I had to work hard helping him after school and at the weekends. I found that very hard sometimes, especially in the summer, when all my school friends could go off and play. But it did earn me my first bicycle! The property cultivated many varieties of apples as well as pears, cherries, plums, quinces, walnuts and hazelnuts; also many varieties of berries. We established a large vegetable garden. Some rabbits lived in a small wooded area. In the autumn we would hunt them with a ferret. This provided us with many a good meal. There were many meadows between the trees, and the hay had to be cut twice a year by hand with a scythe. The property was situated by a steep cliff. From our new home we could get there quite quickly by bicycle. Taking care of the property was of course a great help financially in these hard times. We had private customers in town. With a big basket on my back I would deliver their orders. In comparison to many schools and teaching methods of that period, my schooling was under very strict discipline. That didn’t do me any harm. I was only punished once, in religion in year three. I had not done my home work, or read and learned the set passage. I had to stand for half an hour, arms outstretched, and holding up a 1 lb weight in each hand. If they started to sink, my

hands were rapped with a stick. This didn’t exactly endear this subject for me. But overall we had well structured and organised schooling. I was able to make good use of it after leaving school in later life. It helped me find my feet in various occupations. We were well taught, particularly in the many practical subjects we took. I left school in March 1928. Next was my confirmation in the Protestant-Luther church. I did it for my parents, although I protested strongly against it. What I saw in the lives of the ministers and their spiritual followers, did not agree with what they preached from the pulpit. At the age of 14, I was not really sure what profession I wanted to pursue. A cousin of mine worked for a newspaper, so at first I thought about a apprenticeship in publishing. Unfortunately my poor school reports, especially in spelling and grammar made that impossible. In the paper there was an advert for an apprentice in a factory producing, amongst other things, electric switch-boxes. I went along and applied, and got the apprenticeship. The factory was very handy, only 30 metres away from our home. The apprenticeship was for three years, and included accountancy, calculations and administration, and also a twice weekly visit to business college during working hours. At the same time I took evening classes in shorthand and typing. During this time I joined a Christian youth group for boys and girls. We met twice a week in the evening. My apprenticeship was not physically demanding, so I also went to a swimming club in the evening. So I had something to do every night of the week. Weekends were spent with the youth group out and about, either cycling or hiking. I spent four years with this group. For me, as for many others, these were important and decisive years. We helped each other, and gave each other the strength to cope in the difficult and sometimes painful teenage years. This was confirmed for me in 1969 when my wife Lini and I drove to Eisenach. After 35 years, I met some friends of my youth. They all said this time had been important and valuable for them too, in the course of their future lives. The relationship between boys and girls had been pure, clean and respectful, quite different than it is today. These were the turbulent years, before Hitler came to power. The youth group protested against Hitler’s tyranny, and produced a play they wanted to perform in the town’s theatre, but their application to do so was refused. So the performance took place in the biggest Hall in Eisenach. That was in 1930. Already at this time, on first nights, members of the SA would position themselves everywhere in the audience. I played the role of Nebuchadnezzar, the cruel ruler of Babylon. Under the leadership of Martin Niemöller the professed Christians also protested in Eisenach at that time against the Hitler regime. Niemöller was a protestant theologian in Berlin-Dahlem, and submarine commander during World War I. I heard him give a talk once at Wartburg. The Christian working class poet Woicke also came to Eisenach. Through his poems he protested against Nazism with such words as; “We would never bow our heads or bend our knees to other human beings, but only to God.” In April 1931 I completed my apprenticeship. I was dismissed immediately. It was during the years of great unemployment, many millions of men could not find work. I tried many places, but it was all in vain. Many young people committed suicide, including a friend of my cousin. The 23 year old was told by his employer he was too old for the job. When he responded by asking what he was supposed to do, he was snarled at: “Get a rope!” That is what he did two weeks later, and hanged himself. Such events made me think deeply about our existence on earth and the purpose of life. My father had also been dismissed towards the end of the ’20s, but as already mentioned, he was able

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to look after a large garden, and had plenty to do. So I helped him with this job. LIVING IN COMMUNITY IN EISENACH In Eisenach I soon got in contact with a pious Christian organisation, the Möttlinger. Their example was the Christian message of Blumhardt, who called on everyone to follow Jesus Christ. This gave me a new anchor and purpose in life, and the strength to carry on. Soon after this we began to ask ourselves if it could be possible to live in community together, as it says in the Sermon on the Mount. In practical terms that would mean that we would share everything we own. No sooner said than done, we decided to give it a try. In November, 20 of us began our shared life in Christian community. A good, kind man, a senior Civil Servant made available to us a large piece of land on a hill on the outskirts of town. The land had on it a large house, animal stalls and other smaller buildings; many fruit trees as well as arable land. We were all poor and had some hard work to tackle, but we set too with enthusiasm and confidence. The first fields we prepared ready for the spring time. Ten of us men all in a row dug up the stony ground with our spades. We bought two milking cows, which were also used to pull the plough and other equipment. I was given the job of looking after them. I learned to milk them, to plough, and to drive the cart the cows pulled into town to collect sand and building materials. Many of us, including myself, were vegetarians, so we concentrated on building up our vegetable production, for our own use as well as to sell. Compost was produced by the Rudolf-Steiner method. In 1933 a large henhouse was built, and our community grew to 80 people. They came from all walks of life. Our community was led by Bernhard Jansa, who was also our preacher, and still held a job as a librarian. Not all who joined held Christian beliefs and this made community living difficult at times. Not everyone could be accommodated on our piece of land, so a second place, with a garden and fields was set up in the Thüringer Wald near Gotha. In a third place, to the south of Eisenach most of the single women were accommodated. They produced craft work items for sale. The responsibility for this place was taken on by a 40 year old couple who had no children. The man was once a minister in the catholic high church, which he left in 1930 and married soon after that. His wife was a talented craftswoman who built up the craft business. Our community also worked together with the youth detention centre in Eisenach, and took in some youngsters on their release. We hoped to give the young people the chance of a new start; something that would have been very hard for them if left to their own devices in these difficult times with so much unemployment. In the Autumn of 1933, the communal buildings and grounds were surrounded by Hitler’s SA Troops. They assumed that we were communists and behaved as though they already represented the government and the highest authority. They did not find what they were looking for, and could find no evidence for their suspicions. It was a very unpleasant experience. On the 31st December 1933, many of us went to the Georgs Kirche in the market place to listen to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Oratorio. It finished just before the start of the New Year 1934. As we left the church we witnessed a terrible sight at the other side of the square. A hands on street battle (slaughter) between Nazis and Communists. At the same time, from the church tower, a brass band blasted out “Nun danket alle Gott” (“Now thank we all our God”). This devastation contrast was enacted in front of our very eyes. In 1934 even more people joined our community, in March there were over 100 of us. However the practicalities of living

together became more and more difficult, as the question of leadership arose. The all too dear, kind, sweet but slippery former Catholic clergyman went round trying to get everyone on his side, to select him as leader. He switched me off. In many meetings we tried to reach a clear agreement. We had heard and knew about the community calling itself the Rhönbruderhof, and asked them for help. They sent two brothers. We spent the next two days in open honest discussions in an attempt to save the good that had come out from the year and a half of living together. But this attempt failed, and we left going separate ways. This was a very hard and sad blow for most of us. Eight of our members decided to go to the Bruderhof in the Rhön, which could by now look back on 14 years of community living. IN THE VOLUNTARY LABOUR CAMP I myself initially made a different decision, and in doing so was very disappointed. I had heard of the Voluntary Labour Camp, in which one could work on the land or in the forests. I did not want to return to the normal life in society, and under pressure from the now governing Nazi regime I signed up for a year with the Voluntary Labour Camp. Their base was 30 kilometres away from Eisenach; it accommodated over thousand young men of 17-25 and older. I very soon realised that the base camp was run on military lines. One was stuffed into a uniform, and from early in the morning one had to take part in tough military training which lasted all day. We only spent about four hours each day on the actual projects, like improving / constructing a drainage system etc. In the evenings vicious Nazi songs were drummed into us; songs against their enemies and anyone who did not agree with the Nazi party; songs about their New Germany. Within four days I had decided not to complete my year’s Voluntary Service. By now I had also heard from others, that after this Voluntary year, one was committed to joining up for Military Service. For the first time I experienced what it was like to get into the clutches of a dictatorship. One morning at call up, I saw a young lad with a thick bloody bandage on his head. I asked someone what had happened to him. The answer: “He was hunted down during the night, because two nights previously he had run away. He could not stand the camp anymore and did not want to take part in the Military training. This happens quite often. The escapees would be pursued, brought back, beaten and tortured.” I decided that day to write a letter immediately to the Rhönbruderhof. I asked if I could continue my agricultural training and work on the farm with them. That was a very dangerous thing to do, because all mail was censored. However I did actually get a reply. One day after the morning parade, I was handed a letter, while I was still in line, standing to attention. It was a letter from Eberhard Arnold himself. He answered that yes they did indeed urgently need people to work on the farm, especially with the impending hay harvest. After drill I went straight to the Camp Commander and told him of this invitation. I asked him exactly what I had to do in order to take up this offer of training to work on the farm. He read the letter, and agreed that it did sounded good. By coincidence the Camp Commander was a good friend of a Kurt Fischer, and asked me if I knew him. He was referring to my cousin, who worked for a paper in Eisenach. The Commander looked furtively around, then said: “As far as I am concerned you can go, but you must report to Head Quarters in Eisenach.” I got a permit to leave the Camp. I took my uniform to the store, where my bicycle and personal belongings were returned to me. As fast as I could I cycled to Eisenach and to my parents. The next day I went to Head Quarters and showed the official there the certificate from the Camp Commander and with it the

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letter from Eberhard Arnold. What I heard then, and the names I was called does not bear repeating, it was awful. In the end the official threatened: “You bounders and scoundrels, in October we will get you all back when compulsory Military Service begins.” He got out my personal card, and stamped across it in large letters: “Deserter”. At that time that amounted to being put before the firing squad. This motivated me into hurrying to get my permit made up; which proved to be rather difficult, as I was only 20, and not eligible until I was 21. My father gave his written consent, so after a lot of back and forth my permit was finally handed over to me. Two more weeks and I could get away. I took my bike and rode straight to the Bruderhof. As the eldest son, leaving my parents was a hard and serious decision. The words of the Bible: ’Leave your father and your mother and follow me’ gave me the faith and the strength to do so. My dear mother had a deep inner understanding for me, especially because my two younger brothers had already been drawn into the Hitler Youth. During these years I never once raised my hand in a “Heil Hitler“-salute. It was clear to me that this man was never going to give us a better Germany.

The Rhönbruderhof seen from above the Küppel.

he drove them back to the cow stall, they found the lush green grass at the roadside, he let them have their fill, as he was unaware what the consequences would be. When they arrived at the stalls, the cows were bloated and full of wind. It was clear to us that the cows had got into the flowering clover field. It was difficult, although exciting rescuing the cows and getting them back in. They were rubbed down with straw, and chased around the farm as fast as possible. Fortunately we didn’t lose any of the animals. It did not take long before I was accepted into the novitiate, and could take part in the inner, spiritual meetings. I also worked in the fields which was really hard work, because the soil on the Rhön-Height was poor and stony. The community was watched closely by the Nazis. The comings and goings were all recorded. It was a serious and decisive time. Many new people came to join us. Round about July 1934 the Hitler Party ordered all of us Germans to bring our Identity cards and prove that we were true Aryan German stock. One of my dear relatives took on the time consuming task of producing a family tree of all my ancestors for me. So I had written proof that my predecessors were genuine Aryan German stock. They had lived on the same farm for 400 years, and it had been inherited and passed on from one generation to the next.

The Gable House (Giebelhaus) was newly built when Wilhelm arrived on the Rhönbruderhof. It was paid with Hans Boller’s money. The laundry and sewing room occupied the ground floor of the two story house. To the right one can see a part of the bakery house.

ON THE RHÖNBRUDERHOF With a fully laden bike and a guitar on my back it took me a day to get to the Rhönbruderhof, where I was lovingly greeted and made welcome. There I also met my brothers and sisters from our first attempt at community. After supper I told of my dreadful experiences in the camp, and said that I would probably be called up for Military Service in October. I got the answer: “We will deal with that together.” I was deeply impressed when I met Swiss, Swedish, English and Scottish people on the Bruderhof. As I had experience of milking cows, I was put to work in the cow stall, where so far Peter Mathis had to do the milking and care for the twelve cows on his own. Peter soon made it clear to me that my method was much too slow. He showed me a new way by using my thumbs. This took a bit of getting used to, and was at first quite painful. After four weeks it was like a celebration for Peter and his family, for he could take a Sunday off, as I was there to stand in for him. There were also two goats whose milk was reserved for the babies. During Spring and Summer the cows were put out to pasture in various meadows, and someone had to go along as cowherd. On one occasion it was the turn of a clueless Englishman from the city to take the cows out after their morning milking. As

A wonderful landscape and new friends welcomed Wilhelm on the Rhönbruderhof. 1935 Erna Steenken (Friedemann) and Moni Barth were taking care of the small children in the so called Babystall.

Looking back these seven months at the Rhönbruderhof were extremely hard. There were 120 people to be provided for. Food was short. For instance we had only one slice of bread a day, often only sparingly spread. For breakfast we had porridge made with water and salt. There was no milk or sugar. Whoever survived this, and the hard work, must have been serious about living in community. In the Autumn I volunteered to assist with the task of harvesting thick moss from the edge of the woods. It was needed to line

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This picture was taken 1935 in front of the dining room in the Main House – it was the year in which Eberhard Arnold unexpectedly died on November 22. The grownups from left: Moni Barth, Hardy Arnold with his son Eberhard-Claus, John Jory with Jonnie Mason, Mary Richards (wife of Leyton Richards), and Emmy Arnold. The children: Christoph Boller, Stephan, Klaus and Jörg Barth, HansUli Boller, Sanna Kleiner and Heidi Zumpe.

Three years earlier than Wilhelm Fischer, in 1931, Erna Steenken (second from the left) came as an orphan to the Rhönbruderhof – at the age of thirteen. She was soon part of her school class; one of the girls was Monika Arnold Trümpi (second from the right). The others were children from the Bruderhof children’s home. Monika remembered their names: Lilly, Edgar Zimmermann and Karl-Heinz Schulze.

the stall for the cows, because the straw was needed for feeding them. This was the hardest of jobs, it involved a row of ten men, working their way forward, gathering the moss. To compensation we were allowed something extra for breakfast. I was also able to benefit from the fact that the left over porridge was fed to the calves. I would collect the bucket from the kitchen, then would first satisfy my own hunger. The next thing was the potato harvest. After that I ploughed the fields. I got two young Oxen to pull the two harrows through the fields. The Bruderhof was delighted that in 1934, for the first time, we had all the fields prepared ready for sowing in the Spring, before Winter set in. NEXT: THE ALMBRUDERHOF IN LIECHTENSTEIN After Christmas I was accepted into the brotherhood, and asked if I would be willing to go to Liechtenstein to the Almbruderhof near Silum. About 60 people lived there, and I would train in the wood turning department. The reason for this was the fact that I had been marked as a deserter. Of course I agreed, I celebrated the 31st of December 1934 at the Rhönbruderhof until midnight, and then said my good-byes that very same night. I was taken to Schlüchtern by horse and cart. There I got an express train via Lindau across the German-Swiss border to Buchs. It was a favourable time to do this; for who is going to be fully alert after a night of drinking and partying? The overnight journey tired me out completely; as I waited with apprehensive anticipation of what might happen at the border. But all was well, the border patrol noticed nothing. I was met in Buchs, and taken 1600 meters up the mountain, where I was joyfully welcomed by the community. They were also very pleased that I was able to take care of and milk the two cows the community had. I slept above the cow stall in a room used to store the hay. It was a summer hut used by the cowherds when they brought their cattle up the mountain to graze. The gaps and cracks had been filled with moss to keep out the cold winds. The temperature in the room was actually quite pleasant, due to the warmth coming up from the cows. I started an apprenticeship as a turner with Fritz Kleiner. He just said: “Watch what I do carefully, then try to do it yourself.” There were two lathes at our disposal. The things we produced were also sold in Switzerland. We supplied orders as they came in, but fulfilling special requests too. The turnery was one of the best sources of income for the Almbruderhof.

The community occupied a large Health Resort Building. Further up the mountain were about three large huts also available for their use and a well with fresh spring water. So we were well supplied with clear pure mountain water. The hut with the cow stall stood on its own further down than the Health Resort Building, and below that was another hut which was used as a dwelling as well as for storing hay. Since my arrival on 1st January 1935, there had been very little snow. That changed drastically on the 1st day of February. During the night a storm raged that whistled through all the cracks in the cow stall hut. When I looked through the little window in the morning, everything was covered in snow. I got on with my work, fed and milked the cows, and then wanted to get to the main house with the milk churn on my back. The door of the hut opened outwards. I used all my strength, but could not open it with the mass of snow piled up outside. It was no wonder – 1.80 meters of snow had fallen. So I shouted through the window for help, and eventually was heard. It took two hours until the people from the main house could dig a path through to the hut. The families in the other huts were also snowed in.

On the Almbruderhof: Children group on a walk with two sisters. Behind them is one of several summer cottages. In these some families lived also during the wintertime.

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Trudi and Walter Hüssy were sent to the Almbruderhof with their twins Bastel and Franz soon after the place was started. Their youngest son David was born in Liechtenstein February 25th, 1936. The picture was taken 1937 in front of the Kurhaus Silum. On questioning, Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe said that Trudi was needed urgently as teacher, and Walter built up the big Garden down in the valley near Triesenberg. Like Walter, all the Swiss members were also asked to sell products in Switzerland, because it was easier for them to get the necessary permits.

challenge. It was some compensation to be able to enjoy the wonderful Alpine scenery, which one could see from the heights, in the most glorious of weather. Below us, the thick cloud cover, meant the people down there had to contend with rain or even snow. The Föhnwinde (strong Alpine winds) were unbelievable as they swept along with a strength that made one wonder if the main house could possibly stand the strain. In the joists of the wooden structure it groaned everywhere. EXCURSIONS UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS Whenever we got the chance the young people went on excursions higher up the mountains. We even went as far as the Austrian border, over in the Malbun valley, and on into the Samina valley. Here we found a place where our yodeling echoed back and forth to us five times! That was fantastic! One Sunday we set off to climb the Drei Schwestern (Three Sisters) at a height of 2120 metres. There was just a narrow track of 1 - 1.5 metres winding up the Fürstensteig mountainside, on the right the rock face rose almost vertically above us. Attached to the rock at this side was a strong steel rope. On the left it dropped steeply straight down to the Rhine valley below. Often hikers would try to tackle this climb, but soon turned back. We managed to get from the second to the third peak of the ‘Sisters’. To do this we had to clamber over an iron ladder placed horizontally across a ravine. It must have been a good 10 meters long, without any railings at the side to hold on to. Two of the group got across, they had to get down on all fours. There were two girls with us, Gertrud and Erna. They were really brave. I was the first to go across, then Werner. He got to the middle, then I

On this particular day, a horse drawn sledge from Triesenberg, fully laden with provisions, was going to tackle the climb to the Almbruderhof, a difference in altitude of 600 Meters. There was hardly any food left in the house. There was just enough bread for the children. Fortunately the telephone was still working, and Mr Beck, who was bringing the provisions, said he hoped to be at the cross roads by 2 or 3 pm. Men and horse drawn snow ploughs were ready to clear the main road from Triesenberg to Malbun. So the whole household, including children over 10 years old, set off from the Bruderhof to clear our road to the crossroads – that is if they could find it under the great mass of snow. Fortunately the sun came out at 11 o’clock and by 2 o’clock the road was clear. Then there was a terrible noise from the top of the mountain. An avalanche came crashing down over the rocks. Trees were ripped up as if they were blades of grass. We had our hands full getting ourselves and the children and sisters to safety. The avalanche had cut off 30 metres of the road to the Main House with a hard packed mountain of snow. It was obvious that the horse drawn sledge could not get through in these conditions, it was much too dangerous. So we all had to carry what we could in our hand or on our backs across the massive avalanche. The children then shuttled the food on sledges up to the main house. Night was about to draw in by the time we had got everything there. At the beginning of March 1935, the community heard from a reliable source, that compulsory Military Service for all young men would be enforced. Six young men at the Rhönbruderhof were affected. Individually and by various routes, including by bicycle, they all came across the border to us in Liechtenstein, before the deadline for Military Service was reached. During this year we built a greenhouse to the front of the main house. Rocks were blasted out so that it could be set well into the hillside for protection from storms. Down in the Rhine valley the community got a piece of land which was mainly planted with vegetables. Every day, in the morning and at night, an altitude difference of 1100 metres had to be negotiated to get there and then to get home again. For us men this was quite a

The Bruderhof youth liked to climb in the mountains. This is the Fürstenstieg where Wilhelm Fischer and others had their dangerous adventures trying to get to the top of the Three Sisters. These are situated on the left next to where a man is standing on the pathway.

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Elisabeth Zumpe (left) and Renate Zimmermann as three year olds on the Almbruderhof.

Just to add some more pictures from the Almbruderhof time: HansHermann Arnold and Gertrud Löffler were engaged there in August 1936. Behind them the Main House (Kurhaus Silum).

saw his face go white. I called to him “Lie down flat and shut your eyes, don’t look down into the valley below, and take deep breaths”. One of the others came from behind him, and I got to the front, and we pushed and pulled Werner slowly back as he lay on the ladder. We were so relieved and thankful that nothing more serious had happened to us. We had intended to return on the other side, via the Samina and Malbun valleys, and through the tunnel. But unfortunately we then had to return the same way as we had come. On another occasion, in the Spring, we went up the Fürstensteig. We thought the snow had all gone, but when we were about half way up we came across a mass of snow piled right across the track. The steel rope was buried deep beneath the snow. The first three managed to get across ok, then it was Erna’s turn. As she reached the middle, the snow started to move. The steep drop to the valley was only three or four metres away. I was next in line, and called out to her to lie down flat. With the others behind me holding hands, we quickly made a human chain, the last one holding onto the steel rope. Very slowly I managed to inch my way nearer to Erna, and get hold of one of her hands. She grasped tight with both hands. It was important that Erna kept her feet absolutely still while we gradually pulled her up. Finally she moved her feet to help; this movement detached the snow below her and sent it hurtling down the mountain side to the valley below. We all breathed a sigh of relief when Erna was safely back on firm land. But we didn’t give up, we dug out more and more of the remaining snow until we had made a firm path which we could cross to get to the other side, where we discovered that this had been the only place where there was still any snow on this path. MORE ABOUT WORK AT THE ALMBRUDERHOF The workforce in the turnery was considerably increased now, so a night shift was introduced before the hay harvest was due to commence. Each of the rented houses and huts had their share of meadows. The magnificence of the flowers in these Alpine meadows is indescribable; such an abundance of different varieties cannot be found anywhere else in the world. These meadows were scattered all over the slopes. In some places there were just three square metres to be mown, and woe betide you if you occasionally reached out too far with the scythe, and included some of the neighbour’s hay. It was hard work, and some of the steeper slopes could only be mown by wearing metal spikes on our shoes. The hay then had to be tied into large bundles and loaded onto our backs to be carried down to the haylofts.

In the Autumn, after the hay had been harvested, neat cow dung was sprinkled onto the meadows from a wheel barrow. Doing this was an acquired skill. One English man had the misfortune to place his barrow incorrectly on a steep slope. He had also positioned himself on the wrong side to get the semi-liquid dung out. Then the barrow tipped over on top of him, and barrow and man tumbled down the slope together. The man was well ‘dunged’ from head to toe. BAPTIZED, AND IN NO TIME OFF ON A “LITTLE MISSION” In July 1935, the founder and leader of the community, Eberhard Arnold, came to the Almbruderhof. Six of us who had been novices for some time now, were baptised and taken into the Brotherhood. The baptism/Christening in childhood was not recognised. For me this was a very decisive end of my past life, and the beginning of a new era. Soon after that Willi Klüver and I were sent off for a week on a “Little Mission”. In Chur we tried to get a permit for Canton Graubünden. This was turned down. So Willi suggested we go on to Luzern, to Lini’s mother, to see if we could get a permit there. We had a lovely time with her. We also met Jeannette Rudolf (who later on married Peter Keiderling). She was nine years old at the time. I had no idea then, that three years later, Lini’s mother would become my mother-in-law. In retrospect I was very glad to have had the opportunity to get to know her. In Luzern we were given permission to sell our turnery, books etc. and to ask for cash donations towards our communal living. It was a humbling experience going from door to door – we called it: “Türklinken zu putzen” (polishing door knobs). We sang the song: “Von Luzern auf Weggis zu” (from Lucern to Weggis) as we walked along by the Vierwaldstädter lake as far as the Tellsplatte (William Tell Ledge) by the adjoining Urner lake. From a financial point of view we had a very good week. We stopped at one villa, where a distinguished lady came out and spoke to us in English. Willi could just about understand what she was saying. It turned out that we had before us a Mrs. Cadbury, a Quaker from Birmingham. The Quakers were founded by George Fox, and had many followers in Switzerland. We met them again and again as we went about in the various Swiss Cantons. Another time I went to St. Gallen with Christian Löber. Our main purpose was canvassing for donations and begging for money to get another milk cow. We had lost one of ours with flatulence. We needed to collect 400 Franks. Unfortunately it was my fault that the cow perished. I tried to get as much milk as possible from the cows, so all the leftovers from the kitchen were

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saved, and fed to the cows as extra nourishment. In the height of summer some of the leftovers must have started to go off and ferment. We only became aware of this in the afternoon when the cows were up in the meadows. Fritz and I tried everything we could to pull them through, but for one it was too late. We had to slaughter it, and drain off all the blood and the gasses. It was a good job we did that. When the vet came out to examine the cow, he told us that the gasses had not got into the flesh, so in spite of our loss, we were at least grateful to be able to eat the meat. At one house in St. Gallen, we were received by the lady of the house. We told her about the situation, and who we were. She then said: “So, you are the people! I prayed to God this morning, and asked him to send me a sign to let me know who I could help today.” She invited us in, gave us something to eat and drink, and handed over a cheque for 200 Francs. The lady belonged to the Oxford-Movement. One can honestly say that God guided us on that journey. On the same journey, we met some people who welcomed us with enthusiasm. We spoke about following Christ. They replied that Christ was already here in the form of Father Divine. They invited us to a meeting that evening. We accepted, and met up with about twelve people all together. We listened quietly to what they had to say. Later, in our cheap lodgings, we got out the New Testament and looked up several references to see what it had to say about this false God. It soon became clear to us that we wanted nothing to do with these false prophets and their heresy. After that we were given a few more Francs towards our new cow, for which we were very grateful. On one occasion on the same journey, we went into a vegetarian restaurant. A good variety of food was put on the table for us, including a little pot of water. We had no idea what this was for, but as it was so hot outside, and as we were very thirsty, we drank it. The people around us looked at us askance; it then dawned on us that it was a finger bowl, for rinsing our fingers. We were real country bumpkins! In the Autumn of 1935 some men came from the International Voluntary Service. They helped us to prepare the wood reserves for heating in the winter. They went up high onto the Alpine meadows, where felled trees were cut down into one metre logs. These were then loaded onto a two wheeled box cart, and taken down the steep and narrow track. The carts did have brakes, but on one occasion, Erich Hasenberg stumbled over a stone, and was unable to stop the cart, he was nearly dragged down with it himself. The drop was about 100 metres. The cart got stuck on some trees a bit further down, but the logs crashed on to Gafflei and the silver fox farm at the bottom. Fortunately no damage was done, as there were often lots of people going for walks along the paths in the woods. That was a blessing. During this year we frequently got grocery contributions from the Christian Community of Esserdiner, who lived in the West of Switzerland. We were always very grateful for these. TWO ANECDOTES FROM THE TIME AT THE ALMBRUDERHOF Here is another anecdote. By the middle of November 1935 we had already had a lot of snow right down as far down as Triesenberg. It was frozen solid to a depth of four or five inches. Fritz asked me: “prepare the big sledge; you are the most experienced with it. Sophie Löber needs to be taken to the hospital in Vaduz straight away.” She was expecting her first child, and had gone into labour. The sledge had long, high stanchions at the front, on which to secure a plank for the driver and controller to sit on. One had to use ones feet to steer the sledge and when necessary also for braking. I asked Fritz for someone to come along to help with the braking. Werner Friedermann was chosen. It was

already going dark by the time Sophie was wrapped up with pillows and blankets in the back of the sledge. Marianne Zimmermann sat next to her, with Werner at the back and me in front as driver. As we were about to leave, Sophie’s husband Christian arrived back from his travels. He was so tired and exhausted that he stayed behind. About 300 metres before the cross roads I felt stones underfoot. Before we could start braking, my right foot was caught by a stone and dragged backwards, the left one followed. I was now on my knees trying to control the sledge. I shouted to Werner: “hang down and brake“, as there was a steep drop on the right hand side. I was fully occupied trying to prevent us plunging into the abyss. We just managed to a stop right at the very edge. At last I could get my legs out from under the sledge. After this scare we arrived safely in Triesenberg at the Edelweiß, where a taxi was waiting for us. The drive down usually took us ten to fifteen minutes. But going back up again in the snow, with the sledge on our backs, took a good hour. On another occasion I was sent to Triesenberg after work to get some bread. Going down was quick, as it was winter, and we had learned from the locals how to get down the mountain at speed. On the steep parts, you had to squat down on one foot, holding the other leg straight up in front of you, and slide down. But that only worked when the snow was frozen solid. With over 50 loaves loaded onto a wooden carrying device on my shoulders I set off on my way home. It was a wonderfully clear and frosty night; the view down into the Rhine Valley and across to the mountains on the other side was just magnificent. With two thirds of the way behind me, I sat down in the snow for a rest. I said to myself: “just for a moment“, as I knew it was not recommended and could be dangerous. The silence and the glorious view at this height totally enveloped me. An inner shaking soon made me aware of the fact that I had fallen asleep and was getting cold. I jumped up quickly, and was overcome by the conviction that I had been saved from a terrible fate. I was filled with a feeling of deep gratitude, and knew that the Almighty had been watching over me. HARD TIMES ARE DAWNING On the 22nd of November a heavy blow struck to the community. Eberhard Arnold was called from this life on earth. These were difficult months, we had to work our way through to finding ourselves again and finding the way back to community living. The question arose, as to who would be our leader. But Eberhard had taken care of that by leaving written instructions, that Hans Zumpe should have this position. We did not have much time to grieve the loss of Eberhard Arnold, our founder and leader of the community. Two months later, in February 1936, the German consul in Switzerland ordered all German men under 25 years old to report for military service in Germany. We were supposed to return to our home town in Germany. Seven of us were affected by this command. Within two or three weeks it became clear to us, that the only country in which we could continue to live together in community was England. We already had several English members amongst us in Germany and in Liechtenstein. Kathleen Hamilton (Hasenberg) started to teach us English. She soon gave up trying to teach me the grammar, and said: “you will learn the language faster if you just repeat what I say. You can learn a tune quickly and accurately when you have only heard it once before“, so that is what we did. Hans Meier, a Swiss neutral, came to Liechtenstein, and soon we had a plan, how to get Gerd Wegner, Werner Friedemann and myself to England with Hans. Werner had been banned from crossing into Switzerland ever again, as he had once been caught

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selling our merchandise there, without the relevant Canton permit. Hans Zumpe, Arnold and Gladys Mason as well as Winifred Bridgwater were already in England looking for a new place. Then we got a phone call saying that Werner should fly to London. Hans Meier took him to Kloten Airport. At passport control they missed his Swiss ban on entry. Of course he only had one ticket for the flight to London and took the first plane out of Zürich. Arnold was going to pick him up. In the afternoon we got a phone call from London, saying that they had sent Werner back to Zürich. Arnold had not been able to pick him up. That was very worrying for us in Zürich. Would they allow him back through passport control? Late that night Hans and Werner arrived at our secret hideout. Werner had no money to pay for the flight back. If the Swiss control had caught him at Kloten they would have sent him to Germany into the clutches of the Nazis. We thank God for his protection. THE FOUR OF US ON THE RUN How were we going to get to England now? The plan was for the four of us to travel as tourist via Italy to Spain and then get on a freighter at Bilbao for England. Hans Meier spoke Italian, French and English, which would prove to be very useful to us. The Tirolean costume the community wore (black jacket, waistcoat, knee breeches and long black stockings) was not really suitable for this occasion. We acquired clothing that hikers or members of the youth movement would wear. Thus attired, we left Switzerland one night in the middle of March on the last train from Zürich via the St Gotthard Tunnel to Italy. We got out just before the Italian border, then in the early hours of the following morning we crossed the Swiss Italian border on foot. We then continued our journey by train to just outside Milan, where we found a hostel late that night. It had paid off that we had bought Swiss International Youth Hostel membership cards before we left. They looked like real passports. After a quick look around Milan we continued by train to Genoa. Mussolini and his fascism had already been in power for a few years, and the Italian Gendarmes were everywhere. In Genoa we went straight down to the harbour. We wanted to see what ships were there, and where they had come from. We spent the first night in our tent in an olive grove on the outskirts of the city. It was a bit cramped in there for four men. The next day we went straight back to the harbour, bought a wicker bottle of olive oil and some white bread. Hans said: “that is the cheapest food“. We lived on it for three days. We hoped to get a lift on an Estonian freighter sailing to Liverpool. Hans had found out from one of the crew, that the ship was due to leave in two days time. It was a few crew members short, as they had lost two men overboard during a storm on the way to Italy, while crossing the Bay of Biscay. That didn’t sound too tempting. None the less we decided to return to the ship that night to talk to the captain personally. The first time he was not there. While we waited on the landing stage, Hans went on board. Suddenly four Italian Gendarmes appeared, we had not noticed them before. They got Hans back off the ship and ordered us to leave. So that option fell through. At the same time we heard and also read in the paper that civil war had broken out in Spain. It was flaring up all over the country. So it was not really advisable to try our luck in Spain. After three days in Genoa we approached the French consulate to try and get a transit visa, without giving away the fact that we wanted to go on to England. As soon as they saw the three German passports that was the end of that. We sensed the understandable hatred the French had for the Germans. A few months before Hitler had marched into the Saarland and taken it back from the French. We were exposed to this hatred in other French

consulates we visited in other places along the Riviera. We walked for four days from Genoa to the Monaco border. Now and then a lorry driver would give us a lift. The Landscape was really beautiful. We spent the nights in our tent. Just before the Monaco border we saw a valley going up into the mountains so tried this route. We pitched our tent for the night in a lemon grove that was in full flower. Hans went to Monaco to get a good map, and also to get us some food. We had a good night surrounded by the wonderful aroma of the lemon flowers. Next day we studied the map, and decided to set off from one of the villages in the valley, make our way up into the hills, and from there to cross the French border. We reached the village by sundown and found the road that led to the border. No one was to be seen in the streets or on the road into the mountains. But suddenly three Italian Gendarmes blocked our way. “Where are you going, what do you want up there“, they asked. Hans told them. “We want to see the sunrise“. “There is no sunrise up here, this is all military property and no one is allowed up here“, came the reply. The three took us back to the village to a superior officer. There it became clear to us that this plan had no future. By now it was quite late in the evening. The officers were quite friendly and even gave us a meal, which we gratefully accepted. One of the officers said: “We will escort you onto the next train, and take you as far as the terminus, from there it is not far to the French border“. Hans Meier had his violin, and Werner his recorder, so we sang and played some songs for them. The meaning of the songs was clear even if they could not understand the words: “Meerstern ich Dich grüße, O Maria hilf“, and then another song in which Holy Mary was named repeatedly. It was unbelievable how the sentimentality of it softened these hard military men, so that they were almost in tears. Then it was time to go, one officer after a warm farewell said: “you do not need to pay the train fare“. We thanked them again. Escorted by two military personnel, we went to the station and took the train to the terminus, where we arrived at about 11 o’clock at night. We stood there on the road, far below to the right a river rushed by, on both sides the mountains rose steeply up to the clear star filled sky. We walked a little way and then stood and looked up into the starry sky and put our fate in the hands of God and Christ, we just wanted to follow and serve Him, and knew that only He could help us. Soon we saw the barrier in the distance and the lights of a house. Slowly we crept closer and could see a path to one side of the barrier. We could see the guard asleep in his chair with his head on the table. Very quietly we crossed the border, and were 20 metres away on the other side when we were called back. The guard took us to a house 200 metres further on and rang the bell. It was already after midnight. A man came down the steps from the third floor. Hans spoke to him and showed him our international Youth Hostel membership cards. The man was half asleep, and just waved his hand telling us to move on. So we didn’t have a stamp or any proof of where we had crossed the border into France. We walked through the village looking for the railway station, and also found a place by a hedge that was just right for our tent. Hans went back to check when the first train to Nizza and Paris was due to leave. He soon returned and said: “We leave at 5.30 for Nizza, then get a connection on the express train to Paris.“ We decided to wear our Tirolean costume from then on. We refrained from putting up the tent and slept under the stars as best we could. We did shifts so that one of us was awake at all times. We had a watch with us, and were very aware of the fact that we did not want to miss the deadline.

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All went well, and in Nizza we bought something to eat. Soon we were on our way on the express train travelling at a speed of 100 km. Sometimes it felt as though the train was about to leave the rails. By midnight we arrived in Paris and were starving. We found somewhere to buy some food, then made our way to the Eiffel Tower, where we slept on some benches. We took turns keeping watch in case a police patrol came along. There was still a very real danger that the three of us with German passports and without a transit visa would be deported and handed over to the Nazis. We knew when the first train in the morning left for Le Havre. We had hardly slept for two nights. Next day on arrival in Le Havre, we found some food and water, then quickly left town. Along the Seine estuary by the sea we found a rocky overhang. We pitched our tent beneath it. Hans went straight back into town to try and contact Arnold Mason in England by phone. He also asked him to send us some money for the trip across the channel, as we were completely broke. It was evening before Hans got back: “They have already found a place, and are now living on a 200 acre farm in Ashton Keynes near Cirencester“, he told us. He had arranged with them for us to travel next day on the night ferry to Southampton. They had sent the money the same day by telegram. We were greatly relieved by this news, and slept very well that night, after all we were very tired after the past three days. Very early the next morning we were rudely awakened from a deep sleep. The earth shook beneath us. We heard a terrific bang, like an explosion. It happened several times. We opened the tent a crack, and saw clouds of smoke coming from a hole high up above us in the rock face. We found out later that they practiced shooting from here out over the sea. We were now feeling better and well rested. In the afternoon we made our way to the harbour. We bought our tickets for the night ferry in plenty of time, then had a look around the harbour. The big steam ship Normandy was ready on the berth. We were wearing our tourist clothes again, with our costumes in the rucksack. We left it to the last minute to go on board, so that there would not be much time to ask any questions. Passport control arrived and the customs officer asked where we had crossed the border, as we didn’t have a transit visa. Hans told the officer the exact time and described precisely the place at which we crossed the border. The officer stamped our passports. “Promise me, that you will never cross the border here again, otherwise I will be in serious trouble”, he said. It was a miracle to us and a divine act of God, that we had crossed France, from south to north without a transit visa, in spite of the serious political situation at the time, and the tension between France and Germany. We breathed a sigh of relief once the ferry was out at sea. It was a very stormy night. There were only chairs and benches to sit on, and the ferry provided some breakfast in the morning. Then we went through customs and saw Arnold Mason over at the other side. When the customs officer was looking at Werner's passport, we realised something was amiss. We were lead away to a higher official. Arnold Mason and the friend who had driven him over night from Birmingham to Southampton came along too. The friend was a minister from the Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham. The official went to a cupboard and got out a document file: “Werner Friedemann you have been deported from this country and sent to Switzerland.“ Arnold explained the situation to the official, and the minister confirmed that what he said was true. Arnold also said that we were going to work on his 200 acre farm in Ashton Keynes. So everything was cleared up and we were allowed to go. [Annotation by Erdmuthe Arnold: The minister was Leyton Richards, head of the Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham; see KIT Newsletter, January 2004, page 7.]

“Ostern 1936” (Easter 1936) is written on the back of this photo. So this must be the grey cottage, which stood empty at the time when the Cotswold Bruderhof was founded on March 15th, 1936. Winifred Brigdwater, Arnold and Gladies Mason, Hans Zumpe and Alfred Gneiting attended this little celebration. No contract had been signed yet. They still had no idea where the money would come from. Hans Zumpe describes this time in his report “The Confrontation Between the Bruderhof and the German National-SocialistGovernment 1933 to 1937” (published in 11 parts in the KITNewsletters, December 2007 – April 2010). A 340 Pounds down payment was due to be made five days later for half a year’s rent, and all they had was 6 pounds. So the next day Winifred and Alfred drove to Bristol, Gladys with baby Johnnie went to Birmingham, and Arnold with Hans to London. Before leaving, they pinned a notice on the door of the new founded Bruderhof telling the young men on the run where to find the key (in case they should arrive during their absence). – The begging tour was successful; they got the money that was needed in time.

For us Germans, and also for Hans Meier a Swiss national this experience with high officials was quite unbelievable. There was still a country in Europe, England that would give us asylum. We cannot forget that and never will. Throughout the years we have always expressed our gratitude to the English people. We enjoyed a good English breakfast, before we left for Ashton Keynes. Arnold and Werner went by train, as there was not enough room for all of us in the little Morris. Hans, Gerd and I went with the minister, who had already been driving all night. Hans was fully occupied trying to keep him awake by talking to him about anything he could think of. We arrived safely at the farm, the Cotswold Bruderhof. In retrospect it is obvious, that this place was obtained specifically for the sake of only seven of the members. These were: Heini and Hans-Hermann Arnold, Gerd Wegner, Werner Friedemann, Albert Wohlfahrt, Joseph Stängl and I. The other four came by various routes from Liechtenstein to England. When we arrived, Joseph and Albert were already there, together with Hans Zumpe, Gladys Mason and Winifred Bridgwater (later Dyroff). It was the divine guidance of God that led us to this new start, as was to become apparent soon. This was in March 1936. We made unbelievable progress in all areas in the four years and eight months we had to build up the new Bruderhof, before the first group left for Paraguay. The owner of the farm Mr Deyer was the son of General Deyer who had driven back the uprising against British Rule in India. It was he who gave the order to shoot over 100 Indians. Our predecessor Deyer still lived with his wife in a bungalow opposite the farm. A NEW START ON THE COTSWOLD BRUDERHOF We came with nothing to make a new start in England. The farm was in a very bad state. It consisted of a big house, two small

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cottages, large barns and cowsheds. They were all built in Cotswold stone. The soil was very poor, to a depth of only 20 to 30 cm, below that it was shingle. The water table was 70 to 80 cm below the surface. First of all we needed to get to work clearing up the place. In the middle of the farm yard, around which the farm house, the barns and the cow stalls were built, was a large heap of manure. There was nowhere for the dung to drain off. An old horse and an old cart were part of the inventory. With the help of these we slowly cleared it all away. Gerd and I were given the job of converting the calf-shed into a workshop for the turnery. In the adjoining room we assembled a diesel motor with a drive shaft going through the wall. We were now ready to start using two lathes and a circular saw. Within two months, Hans Meier and I drove to Birmingham to buy second hand lathes and the circular saw. We spent the night with mother and father Watkins, who later joined us with their daughter Nancy (later Trapnell). Gerd and I then worked in the turnery. This was one of our first sources of income. Our wares were sold in Harrods in London. Heini together with some of the other brothers took on the farming. During the first hay harvest Mr. Deyer was still there, and wanted to oversee the job. I was asked to assist him. Deyer mowed the hay with an old horse mower, pulled along by an old Morris. He taught me how to drive the car. We even used the car to turn the hay. The hay turner, which was even older than the car was held together with bits of wire, and frequently broke down. That didn’t matter, with a pair of pliers and some wire, repairs were soon done. As soon as we had the official documents for the farm, we started negotiations with the Home Office in London to get more of our brothers and sisters into the country. The officials were very helpful and gave us the permits. Arnold and Hardy were the brothers who sorted this out with the officials. So during 1936, more families and single brothers and sisters came to us from the Rhön- and Almbruderhof to help out in the various work departments. At the weekends we often had friends come to visit us, especially from Birmingham. They pitched in and helped us to put into practice our many projects. They brought us all sorts of things like food stuff and furniture of all description. We were very grateful for this, especially bearing in mind that only a few years before, England itself had been through a time of hardship and massive unemployment. For two weeks during the summer of 1936 a group of the poorest children from East London came to us with two carers. They lived in tents. The children had never seen and didn’t know where the milk they drank came from. On Sunday it was often my duty to do the milking. I can still see those children’s eyes as they watched me milk the cows. For them this time in the country with all the different animals was a tremendous experience. One of the helpers, Mary Osborn, lives quite near to us now. She remembers the visit well, and is forever grateful that we were able to give the children and themselves this opportunity. During this first year many guests came, they were searching for a more purposeful life. We were very short of living quarters. Soon we had to build more dwellings and living areas. Georg Barth and Fritz Kleiner and their families also came over to England during the year. So it was decided to convert the big barn and the cow-stall where the turnery was into living quarters, dining room and kitchen. It took great effort and the help of hired labourers to start putting these plans into practice at the end of the summer of 1936. Fritz Kleiner was in charge of the construction work. Everything had to be built in Cotswold stone, a very expensive undertaking. For this purpose a fundraising campaign was set in motion.

IMPLEMENTATION OF MANY COSTLY BUILDING PLANS A few comments on all the building work we did in those four and a half years. The above mentioned conversion was completed in the summer of 1938. With an excavator we were able to open up our own gravel pit in 1937. So we could make our own cement stones and blocks. The stones we dried with hand presses and under a big shed. Next to be built were three larger dwelling houses called the Lindenhof. After that a large laundry with big washing machines and a drying room was added. The work departments we created were very modern and up to date for that time. In two long stretched out buildings rooms were installed for the bakery, the turnery, the carpenter’s shop and the sewing room. Opposite to this complex our own corn mill was erected. Further down was a shelter for tractors, carts and carriages, beyond that a smithy and at the end a powerful engine, that could produce electricity in an emergency. Under the roof was an extensive loft to store the grain that we needed for our own use. In another long three story building was the print shop and living accommodation. There was also a mother house where births could take place. The farm buildings included a large, three section barn for the harvest, very nice stables for six horses and two yoke of oxen, a cow stall and a milking shed with milking machines for 60 cows. The bungalow was enlarged and renovated to accommodate the babies, the toddlers and the kindergarten. There was also a donkey and cart for the children to ride in. Two big long railway carriages were converted into living quarters, and a separate house was built for the office and admin departments. Then there was the fresh water supply and sewage plant needed to take care of the hygiene needs of so many people. This alone was a pretty expensive objective. In the middle of 1937 we bought a big old wooden prefab, to serve as the dining room until the new one was finished. GOOD AGRICULTURAL RESULTS In agriculture we also achieved a great deal during these years. The soil had been exhausted by constant cultivation of wheat, because the state paid well and subsidized it. In Spring the pastures were full of wild garlic. We often could not sell the milk because of the lingering taste of the garlic. So we ploughed up the pastures, or used them for mobile hen houses, with laying boxes and a long wired chicken run which we moved to a different part of the pasture land each day. This excellent system also took care of the necessary fertilisation at the same time. We operated a similar system with the milking cows that were outside on the pastures day and night by using a mobile cow stall with a milking machine attached. The motor was in an enclosed trailer. The fencing was easy to move to a different part of the meadow each day. In this way a large area was fertilized in a very short time, and could be ploughed in, to reap the benefits the following year when the grain or the hay was harvested. We ask the advice of the Royal School of Agriculture in Cirencester. But when we told them that we hoped to improve the soil by planting rye, they told us rye doesn’t grow here. We were not to be deterred, and shortly before the harvest, we invited the experts to bring their cameras and come and have a look at our field of rye. They were surprised when they saw the five foot high heavy ears of corn. We milled this crop ourselves, and made the first batches of our own brown bread using wheat and rye flour. The local population liked this bread very much, and it sold well. We offered it for sale with our vegetables and eggs in the nearby towns. A ten acre field was used for growing the vegetables. We also had a large greenhouse that had been given to us. For irrigation we used the water from our big gravel pit.

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The Main House on the Cotswold Bruderhof.

This view of several building gives the impression of crowdedness due to the many houses and rooms needed in Cotswold. The washing up was done in this house on the Cotswold Bruderhof.

Ria Kiefer at work in the Cotswold kitchen. An interesting detail can be told here, which Hans Zumpe wrote in his already mentioned report: The Rhönbruderhof had to cope with very hard times during the year 1936. Unexpectedly an irrevocable mortgage loan of over 15,000 Reichsmark was terminated. The order by the Nazis was to pay back this money within fourteen days. A sponsor was found in England. Just then the question was brought up, why invest more money into the German community, which sooner or later would be confiscated? The idea was born that the Cotswold Bruderhof could buy urgently needed machinery from the Rhönbruderhof. So when Arnold Mason came to Germany with the money he bought the whole contents of the printing office, the kitchen stove, a washing machine and other heavy objects. Through this transaction the Rhönbruderhof got the needed foreign exchange and could pay the depts. The stove in the Cotswold kitchen was part of this deal that was sanctioned by the foreign exchange office in Frankfurt am Main. On the white label the manufacturer is noted as: Gebrüder Roeder AG, Darmstadt. The kitchen was situated in the above original farm house built in the 15th century (as Hardy Arnold remembered 1984, see “Memories of Cotswold Days, Told by Stanley Fletcher and Others”, ©Plough Publishing House, page 10).

At the end of 1937 we bought another farm, the Telling Farm. It consisted of pasture land only, on which our mobile milking stall was soon in operation. In 1938 we rented and later bought a further 100 acres from a neighbouring farmer. There we started breeding pigs, and also kept sheep. At first I worked in the turnery, then when others had been trained I worked on the farm. We had two tractors, driven by Migg (Fischli) and myself. I helped with the milking a lot as well. We set ourselves a difficult target. We wanted to breed our herd up to a certifiable pedigree. We finally achieved this at the beginning of 1939. Now we could get a better price for our milk. In 1939 we bought Oaksey, another 100 acre farm a few miles away from the Cotswold-Bruderhof. We concentrated our dairy farming here. We now had 600 acres in production. From the end of 1939 until the autumn of 1940 we sowed flax on a piece of land that had not been cultivated up for over 100 years. At the first attempt it felt as if I was ploughing through wire mesh fencing. But it was worth it, in autumn 1940 we had a magnificent crop, and got a very good price for it. We got requests from other farmers who paid us to plough up their old meadows. The government had ordered this to be done. Migg and I ploughed up many acres of land.

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Together with two other men Werner Friedemann (left) is producing the famous Cotswold stones, which were needed in large quantities for house building.

Edith Arnold and Erna Friedemann with some of the children during the summer 1938 on the Cotswold Bruderhof. From left to right in the back row: Maidi and Tobias Dreher, Erna with Mathias Kleiner, Sanna Kleiner, Ullu Keiderling, Rosemarie and Elisabeth Kaiser. Front row: Loni Kaiser, Johnny Mason, Jörg Mathis, Edith with three months old Gabriel, Jennifer and Anthony Harries, Burgel Zumpe. – They were all bound to leave England two and a half years later. But there were many more little ones who had to be taken safely into an unknown country and destination during World War 2.

Growing cornfield in front of the Cotswold-Bruderhof

Children are helping Erna Friedemann to peel peas, around 1939 on the Cotswold Bruderhof. Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe remembers: “We children were told that only we with our little hands and fingers could do that kind of work”.

Harvesting a field on the Cotswold Bruderhof.

We did another experiment on a ten acre plot of land that was overrun with couch grass. We worked on this by sowing mustard seed three times between spring and autumn, each time the small plants grew, they were ploughed back in as green fertilizer. I was given this task. After that we sowed winter wheat in this plot. We got a very good harvest the following autumn, and the area was free of couch grass. After this success we wanted to treat other areas in the same way to improve the quality of the land. Unfortunately we never got to do this.

Older children help to tidy up the place.

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COMMUNITY LIFE IN ENGLAND So much for the practical side of things! Now we turn to our life in community. When we celebrated our first Christmas in England in 1936, our English brothers and sisters said it would be nice if we could follow the English tradition of going carol singing to our neighbours. We practiced some of the lovely old English carols for several voices, and also sang some of the German songs. We had quite a good choir of 12 male and female singers. We sang the songs in the Royal Agricultural Institute in Cirencester. It was a very successful evening which also put us in touch with the people who taught the students. We also had contact with the farmers in the area. The relationship was generally good. During our years in England the institute reported back to the higher authorities in London on our agricultural successes and how we had achieved them.
1937: Not only on the Rhönand Almbruderhof, also in England dancing was one of the happy occupations for Bruderhof folks. In front Erna Friedemann dancing with Karl Keiderling; in the back at the right, Werner Friedemann with Annemarie Arnold.

swayed us to turn our backs on the worldly life and turn to Jesus and follow his message to live in community with people of many nationalities. DAVID HOFER AND MICHAEL WALDNER EXPERIENCE THE EXODUS OUT OF GERMANY As their two months came to an end, we heard how badly things were going for the community at the Rhönbruderhof, where the Nazis kept setting buildings on fire in various locations on the property. These two dear old brothers took spontaneous action and set off on their own on the 8th April 1937, to go to Germany and the Rhön. As foreigners they intended to support and stand by our brothers and sisters. During their stay, the Hof was surrounded by the SA (storm troopers) and the police, who ordered everyone to leave the Hof within 24 hours. As undesirables they were not allowed to remain in Germany any longer. They could only take the bare essentials with them. A few of them went to Liechtenstein to the Almbruderhof. The majority travelled to Holland; they were taken in by the Mennonites for a while. Three brothers went to prison: two Swiss, Hans Meier and Hannes Boller, as well as Karl Keiderling who was German. In England it took us a few weeks to complete the preparations for taking in the large group from Holland. First we had to obtain the entry permits from the authorities. When England granted them entry, we were quite overwhelmed by the amount of help that was given to us. I think the group from Holland arrived in July 1937. The popular London papers took photos and printed front page reports about how our brothers and sisters, with young children and just a small bundle of belongings, had fled Nazi Germany and come to England. Many English people responded very generously to this report and sent us help. They came at the weekend with vans full of everything imaginable that could be of use to us. This carried on for months. The Quakers, the Salvation Army as well as many other groups supported us. We also had contact with a few groups who were attempting to live in community, such as in Whitway, the Cotswolds and in Leeds. They wanted to live according to the writings of Tolstoi. In Birmingham there was also a group who wanted to build a common Christian life together. Most of them joined up with us. [The Birmingham group, see KIT Newsletter January 2004, pages 7 and 8; Life Story of Francis Beels.] DEPARTURE OF THE TWO HUTTERITES The two old brothers from Canada went to the Almbruderhof, and from there travelled onwards to many countries in Europe, where for over 400 years their old fellow believers had lived and endured martyrdom and death. At the end of August the two preachers came back to us in England. On 15 th September 1937 they set off by ship for their journey back home. For them as well as for all of us, the parting was hard. We had experienced so much with them in these past months. We said again and again: “that it was Gods will that you came“. Their presence also surely protected our brothers and sisters in the Rhön from going to the concentration camps. I wanted to give them a present and souvenir to take with them. So I made them two big salad bowls from the 400 year old oak beams that we had to take out of the big old cow stall. That was hard work. The bowls were as hard as iron to turn. Two special Swedish steels were needed for the job. They were in fact the first bowls of this size that had been turned by the Bruderhof. Later we produced these for sale – with great success. The preachers were very pleased to have these special bowls, made from mature timber, to take with them. Unfortunately they were the only two bowls I was able to produce from the old beams. The rest of the wood was damaged and rotten.

During 1936 to 1937 we had guests visiting us almost every weekend. Some came and stayed deciding to share communal life with us. In December 1936 we heard that two preachers from the Hutterite communities in Canada were coming to see us. David Hofer and Michael Waldner did indeed arrive in February 1937. Eberhard Arnold had visited these old communities in 1930. At that time, he and the Rhönbruderhof were accepted by their community. He did not want to build up a new Christian community in isolation. The Hutterite communities have existed for over 400 years. A week after their arrival the two elders conducted the first baptism of four Germans and one English woman. It was a deeply moving inner experience. The two Hutterites spent a good two months with us, and visited several of the old cities in England and Scotland with Hardy Arnold. Often Michael Vetter, as we called him, came to us in the turnery and asked: “Well Wilhelm what have you got for me to do today?“. I declined, “You really don’t need to work at your age“. He was over 70 years old, but insisted. “With us the preachers must also work“, he said. So I gave him a piece of wood to saw into pieces with the band saw. When he had finished, and I had nothing else ready for him to do, he went up the high ladder and asked Fritz to give him something to do. We held the Elders in great esteem. They had many significant and meaningful things to pass on to us. Werner and I spent many evenings together with these brothers. They wanted to know all about us. “How and why did you leave the big wide world to live in the community of believers?” We told them about our personal experiences, and what had

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YOUNG PEOPLE BEING PREPARED FOR THE KIBUTZ IN ISRAEL We received an enquiry from the Zionists in England asking if we would train a group of 20 young men and women in all aspects of agriculture and farming. They wanted to thus prepare themselves for emigration to the Kibutz in Israel. The Zionists argument was: “You have the same communal living as a Kibutz in Israel, so what better preparation could they have?“ The group came with a married couple who were to take on their leadership. They were with us for a few months and were a great help. The girls were allocated to the baby house, toddler house, kindergarten, laundry and kitchen, as well as the garden and working in the fields. The group looked after themselves on the whole. As far as I can remember, they were with us from the summer to the autumn of 1938. This time was enriching for both sides. By the end these young people were very thankful to have experienced this time with us. OUR ENGAGEMENT, WEDDING, AND THE CLOSING OF THE ALMBRUDERHOF In the months from April 1937 single brothers and sisters continued to come from the Almbruderhof to England, as we needed a large workforce for our development. Many of the single people lived on the Telling farm, which was about a mile away from the Cotswold Bruderhof and could be reached without leaving our property. Several smaller families also lived there. So it came to pass that I got to know the Swiss girl Lini Rudolf better. She lived there too, and we often walked across together. To make it short, we got engaged on the 7th November 1937. In the morning the bell was rung for a brotherhood meeting. First information about the Almbruderhof was reported, as a sort of pretext for the hastily called meeting. Then it was announced that someone wanted to put a request to the brotherhood. I stood up and said what was on my heart: “It has become clear to Lini and myself, that we wish to continue life together as a married couple.“ No one had a question or an objection. Everyone was in happy agreement with our decision. Lini and I were given the day off and some money and we set out towards Cirencester. We now had so much to say to each other. In the evening there was an impromptu celebration with the whole community. The smaller lathe was dismantled and brought into the dining room. A sketch was performed with a circular saw and card board, demonstrating how at work, all I could do was sawing out hearts. To the accompaniment of violins and guitars many of the old love songs were sung, including some Swiss songs. Anni and Peter Mathis sang some Romanic

Eight months later a double wedding took place: Wilhelm and Lini Fischer as well as Gerhard and Waltraut Wiegand celebrated their marriage June 17th /18th 1938. Around the same time Werner Friedemann and Erna Steenken got engaged.(see the picture below)

Wilhelm Fischer and Lini Rudolf got engaged on November 7th 1937. After the announcement in a special Bruderhof meeting during the morning, they were given a day off. In the evening they celebrated with the whole community.

songs from the Engadin. It was a lovely and enjoyable evening, without a lot of preparation or rehearsals. One felt the whole community was happy for us both. Due to Hitler Germany the political situation in Europe was rapidly drawing ever nearer to a head. In the first week of March 1938 the Nazis occupied Austria. When we heard this we immediately made preparations to accommodate our brothers and sisters from Liechtenstein in the Cotswold-Bruderhof. All Germans as well as some brothers and sisters of other nationalities arrived in England on 12th March, just a few stayed behind to wind up affairs in Liechtenstein. Already months before it was decided that a double wedding would take place on 17th/18th March 1938. The two couples were Waltraut and Gerhard Wiegand with Lini and I. In spite of all the unforeseen events, the weddings took place. The brothers and sisters, who had had to leave Liechtenstein in such a hurry, were delighted about this happy event. Gladys and Arnold Mason, Peter Mathis and Emmy Arnold were our witnesses. (At this point something that happened earlier comes to mind: When another German couple was getting married, the official asked the bride to repeat: “to accept ... as my lawful husband“. She changed it into “... my awful husband“. It was through mistakes like this that we learned English best). At the Polterabend (equivalent to a joint stag and hen party) of course a lot went on, there was no getting away from all the ribbing and teasing. This was followed on Sunday by the important and more serious part of the wedding for us. It was the true Christian joining in marriage. After the wedding feast, the

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celebration continued for a long time. It was at this point that we withdrew and set off on honeymoon for a week. We took the train to Bridgwater in Somerset. We were given the address of a place where we could stay for bed and breakfast. There I made a real gaffe. Instead of saying we were married, I said we were engaged. I realised straight away that I had used the wrong word and quickly corrected myself. After a good traditional English breakfast we got out our rucksacks and set off to wander through the lovely Somerset countryside. We went to Taunton and along the coast to Ilfracombe. On the third afternoon nearing Porlock we put out our thumbs to drivers to indicate that we wanted a lift. A man in a car stopped. We wanted to go to Malborough, and as he was going through there, he took us with him. As we drove down Porlock hill, the man said: “Anyone who gets down here safely can call himself a good driver“. That was about 50 years ago, brakes were not as good as they are today. The man put the car into first gear, and took the tight bends with his foot and hand brakes, sometimes with only one hand on the steering wheel. We were relieved when we got to the bottom. We arrived in the town at about 9 pm, thanked the driver for the lift, and were lucky to find somewhere to stay at this time of night.
Wilhelm tells about the steep Porlock Hill. On their honeymoon he and Lini had a lift in car going down that hill much too fast. Some others might have some frightening memories about this nearby hill.

emigrate to the USA or Canada. It was a pleasure to us to be able to give these people a helping hand, to save them from the grasp of the Nazi-regime. Some of the single young people spent a longer time with us. One 18 year old only got his visa to the USA over a year later. Later we heard from him on several occasions. He had trained to be a doctor, and thanked us for taking him in. – At weekends we nearly always had visitors, so we had to arrange a guest duty to take car of them. On 11th February 1939 Lini and I had a very happy experience. Our first child, Lucrezia, was born. It was a healthy, strong little girl. It was a normal birth, everything went well. During this year we were still in the process of building up all our departments, and the political situation in Europe caused us great concern. When World War II broke out in September 1939, it must have been obvious to all the countries in Europe, that hard times of poverty and misery lay ahead of us. I remembered a very rare natural occurrence that we all witnessed in the south of England about a year before the outbreak of the war. One evening the Northern Lights were visible a long way to the south. The skies and the heavens burned like a great fire storm. We were so amazed and astonished that we were lost for words. But the British people asked themselves what the meaning of this could be? The papers were full of speculation and interpretations of this event. HOSTILITY FROM THE NEIGHBOURS In the period from the end of 1939 to the end of 1940 we experienced what this war would mean to our community. Our neighbours from the neighbouring villages suspected that we had a group of people amongst us from the Fifth Column. They became our enemies because there were many Germans amongst us. We were threatened that our barns and stalls would be set on fire. As the Nazi bombing over England became heavier and heavier, especially when Coventry was practically destroyed, the Militia came to us to tell us that they had to dig deep trenches on our land for use in defence against the Nazi bombers. That happened around the middle of 1940. This was only done to us, not on any of the neighbouring farms. They were convinced that we were spies or members of the Fifth Column. After the destruction of Coventry in the summer of 1940, the troubles with the population around us became even worse. We asked the Home Office for help and advice. But they could not help, even though they held us in high esteem, especially because of our achievements in agriculture over the past four years. They advised us to give up all German Nationals to an internment camp until the end of the war. But we could not do that. So we made the decision to emigrate. But where to? Hans Meier (Swiss) and Guy Johnson (British) were asked to go to USA and Canada to investigate whether it would be possible to rebuild our community there. It was a difficult and serious decision. The journey itself was very dangerous, as the German U-boats were in full force and sank many of the British ships. In July 1940 we said good-bye to the two brothers. They arrived safely in the USA, and spoke to many contacts and acquaintances in an effort to find a new home for us. They spoke personally to Eleanor Roosevelt, but there was no door open for us. Thereupon the Mennonites in South America offered us some land. Their fellow believers had settled in Paraguay many years ago. Now things moved very quickly, including the acquisition of the immigration papers from Paraguay. The country had granted us total religious freedom, and the exemption from military service for our young men. It was a hard decision, but we made it with complete trust in God.

The next day we continued on our way towards Cirencester. We soon got a lift with a wagon driver who was going towards Stroud. Lini sat on the left hand seat, and I sat over the motor in the centre of the driver’s cab. The things one puts up with to get a free ride to ones destination! We spent about three days in the old Cotswold town of Stroud, and explored this very interesting area and countryside. That is where we enjoyed the last days of our honeymoon. On Sunday we arrived back at the Cotswold-Bruderhof. We did not yet know where we were going to live. A room in the attic above the work shop had been beautifully prepared for us. The next day it was back to work. Lini went to the big new laundry, where she shared the overall responsibility, and I to work on the farm. VISITORS: JEWISH REFUGEES FROM AUSTRIA It was about May 1938 when we made a commitment to the Home Office in London to take in 86 Jewish refugees from Austria in the very near future. Somehow we made room, so that they at least had a place to stay. Many elderly couples, young people, unmarried and on their own came to us. Many of them soon moved on to friends and acquaintances already known to them in England. Others soon obtained visas allowing them to

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ONLY PARAGUAY WOULD HAVE US None of us knew anything about Paraguay. Then one of the brothers found a little German book about Paraguay in one of the English Libraries. We read it aloud in the dining room. At one point there were details of an 8000 hectare piece of land that belonged to the German citizen Rutenberg. He was inviting people to go hunting. Part of this property was described as being like an English park; large areas of lawn with the occasional copse or spinney. Even now, so many years later, I still find it strange that we bought this property from Rutenberg, to build our new homeland. We lived there for Twenty years. First discussions took place and decisions were made as to who was to be in the firsts group to emigrate from England to Paraguay. Lini and I with our two children, Lucrezia and Johanna were among them. It was an international group: German, Dutch, Swiss, English and Spanish nationals. Altogether there were 86 of us including the children who set off on the journey from Liverpool on the 25th November 1940. In the meantime during the remaining three months there was much to be done. First all Germans’ passports were withdrawn by the Home Office. And so we became stateless, and were provided only with an identity card and exit permit. This card contained all important personal information including a passport photograph. In 1940 we had a very good harvest from our land. We were kept busy with bringing in the harvest as well as with the packing. A great deal of thought went in to deciding exactly what to take with us. During this time the bombing attacks on England were particularly bad. Almost every night Hitler’s bombers flew over us deep into the country. Two airfields were nearby, so we also saw the planes taking off from there. One morning at daybreak, Fritz Kleiner and I were going up Chapman Hill, where we had collected a large stack of corn ready to put through the big old threshing machine. We got everything ready so that after breakfast, with more men we could get on with the job. Then we saw two spitfires climb up high ready to chase the German bombers. They didn’t appear to find anything up there, and soon came back – perhaps it was just a practice run. From very high up they came spiralling down again. The second one didn’t make it, and plummeted straight down to the ground and exploded. That was a dreadful sight. Two days later some senior officers came to ask us if we had seen anything. We told them about the horrible experience. They probably still suspected that members of the Fifth Column were hiding amongst us. In October we were working hard at the threshing, trying to get the harvest safely stored in the big barn, when we heard a big explosion late in the afternoon at about 5 o’clock. The ground shook. I was at the end of the threshing machine ready to take off the full sacks. The sky was over cast with thick cloud. We looked around and asked each other what on earth could have happened. All we could see was a German bomber that had just dropped its load on Kemble airfield before making a bee line back up into the clouds and disappearing. Immediately spitfires shot up at either side as if someone had stirred up a hornet’s nest. On another occasion during this time we were awakened in the early morning at about 6 o’clock. The floor shook and the window panes rattled. Once again a bomber had dropped a bomb, this time over Ashton Keynes, making a huge crater near a cottage there. During these months many guests came to us who were seriously searching for a new way and a purpose in life. France had already fallen under Hitler’s domination. Now England was supposed to be the next country to be taken over. All one can say today is, thank God that it did not come to that.

THE FIRST GROUP EMBARKS ON THE JOURNEY TO PARAGUAY In November 1940 for us, the first group to travel, it was the start of a new chapter in our lives. On the 10 th of November we said good-bye to the Cotswold-Bruderhof and travelled in two Omnibuses to the station at Minety. It was a very sad farewell from the life we had to leave behind. In the face of these difficult times, we did not know if we would ever see each other again. Lini and I were very aware of the fact that our Johanna was the youngest child. She was seven months old, and made the long journey lying in a laundry basket. As the train travelled through Birmingham we could see the smoking ruins resulting from the bombing of the station that had taken place the day before. It was dark when we arrived in Liverpool. We spent the night together in a big hall, sleeping on the floor. We expected a quiet night, as the bombers had targeted the harbour and the city the day before. All this happened 47 years ago! Our journey continued in the evening of the 11 th of November on the Andalucia Star, a 22,000 ton freight ship with 144 passenger places in exclusively 1st class accommodation. Because of the risk of air raid attack everything was in near darkness with minimal lighting on the gangway upwards to board the ship. There the captain was awaiting us. When he saw the young children he said with a heavy heart: “My ship must not sink”. I can still hear the sound of his voice as he said it. That is how seriously the captain took his responsibilities. We were told we would be travelling with a convoy, but three days later out at sea, there was nothing to be seen far and wide not a ship in sight. Our family had a cabin to ourselves. Everything you could possibly want was there. The first meals were a new experience for us. We had never in all our lives been offered menus such as these. When the starters arrived we thought it was the main course. On the third day we got into very rough seas. We were all seasick. Now and then someone went to the dining room to at least have a little something to eat. But the plates were sliding about all over the place, and you also had to hang onto the table yourself, to prevent falling off the chair. It took your appetite away completely. If you did manage to get something down, it was only to rush straight to the toilet to bring it all up again. Lini stayed in the cabin for days with the children. We didn’t see any of the other passengers in the dining room either. One day, Adolf Braun, Gerd Wegner and I wrapped up well and went out on deck in front of the bridge. We had to hang onto the railings as we looked forwards out to sea. Waves as high as houses crashed over the ship; at times the front of the ship disappeared altogether. We stood there for as long as we possibly could. The result was that the seasickness completely disappeared. At the next meal we could tuck in style, and catch up on all that we had missed. So going out on deck was the best medicine to overcome seasickness. We tried to persuade others to give it a go, but to no avail. I could not even convince Lini. She was already two months pregnant with our third child. The storm lasted for a good seven days, then the weather improved. Only then could many regain their strength and enjoy the good food on offer. At last we met the other passengers that were travelling with us. We also did a more thorough exploration of the ship that was our home for five weeks. There was much on offer to pass the time, as well as games for the children. Gym equipment was available for exercising. In a separate room we, the community, could gather for spiritual meetings. That was worth a lot to us during this dangerous journey. As we neared the equator the weather continued to improve and we could go up on deck. For the first time we noticed that the ship was not travelling in a straight line, but zigzagging to and fro every hundred meters of so. An officer explained to us

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that this was because of the submarines. At night everything was blacked out, not a single ray of light could escape. But somewhere near the equator, on a calm and warm night, we passed through a sea of light. Thousands and thousands of lights twinkled in the sea below us. For hours we gazed at this splendour, conjured up by tiny creatures as if by magic. And in the sky for the first time we saw the constellation of the Southern Cross. MAYBE NOT TO PARAGUAY AFTER ALL? Some of us got permission to have a look round in the engine room, even though this was not really allowed during times of war. It was about two or three storeys down to the drive shafts on the right and the left. They propelled our ship across the ocean. About three or four days before we reached Rio de Janeiro, I went up on deck with Lucrezia. Another little girl about her age, two years old, joined us, and they played happily together. The parents were very pleased about that. The man, Señor Concalves, asked me in English where we were going. He noticed that I only spoke German to my daughter, and told me he also spoke German and was the Brazilian Consul in Frankfurt am Main. When I told him that we were immigrating to Paraguay to develop agriculture there, he immediately said, “We need you here in Brazil, don’t go to Paraguay. Please can you tell me how to contact whoever is in charge straight away?” I went in search of Hardy Arnold and told him about the conversation. The two then talked together for a long time. In this lovely weather with a calm sea, we were allowed to open the portholes for the first time. We were getting near to Brazil, and the ship was sailing in a straight line now. When on deck during these days, we often saw a group of dolphins that swam ahead of us. They would accompany us for a long time at a safe distance from the ship. To see these fantastic, intelligent creatures in their natural environment was wonderful for Lini and me. Johanna slept in her basket on the floor of our cabin. She had plenty of fresh air, because the porthole was open. I went to check on her, and was going to bring her on deck in case she woke up. When I opened the cabin door, I got a powerful electric shock, which threw me backwards into the gangway. I saw that the floor was under water and the mirror had been ripped from the wall and broken into tiny pieces. Splinters of glass covered Johanna’s basket. Everything was live. I quickly got help, but the men could not get in until the power had been disconnected. Johanna lay in her basket and smiled at me with her big dark eyes. A wave had burst through the porthole causing the disaster, even though there was not much of a swell. It is a wonder that nothing worse happened to Johanna. Two or three days before our ship dropped anchor for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, Lini and I enjoyed the sunset on the after deck. We had already put the children to bed. In a clear and cloudless sky a tropical sunset is wonderful to behold. As we strolled along the deck I saw flashes of lightning to the west. But there was not a cloud to be seen. We stood still, the flashes came again and then again. Apart from us there was only one of the senior ship’s officers on deck. As he passed us I spoke to him. He said nothing, but ran as fast as he could to the bridge. We saw that they were very agitated, and rushed out with telescopes. Immediately the ship resumed its zigzag course. Next day we heard that a German and an English war ship had been in a skirmish. We arrived safely in Rio, and stayed there for one or two days, giving us the chance to go ashore and have a look round Rio. Hardy went with the consul straight to the authorities, who had already been contacted from the ship. In spite of all the talks with the various departments, it emerged that it would not be possible for us to settle in Brazil after all.

Our ship then sailed to Santos, where again a lot of unloading and loading took place. We had been warned not to go ashore there, because outbreaks of yellow fever, a worse illness than malaria, frequently flared up in the port. The next stop was Montevideo. As we approached the harbour, we could still see part of the large ship, the Graf Spee, rising up out of the sea. The British Navy had sailed it into the straits just outside Montevideo.*) Editorial Note: Here the recordings by Wilhelm Fischer ended. In an introduction to his Life Story the author gives an outline sketch. There he only skims over the time in Paraguay, the exodus to England of part of his family in 1960 and the separation from the Bruderhof. Wilhelm died on 20th December, 1995 as the result of a stroke. His wife Ursulina (Lini) Rudolf died four years later on New Year’s Day 2005. The following passage was part of the introduction. ARRIVAL IN PARAGUAY Our next ports of call were Buenos Aires, Asunción, then on to Puerto Casado. We lived in the Chaco with the Mennonites for two months; then found a better property of 7800 hectares in Eastern Paraguay, where we eventually settled. That was in February 1941. During the next months of this year, all the others came from England to Paraguay. They crossed the ocean in many different ships and arrived safely in the new homeland. In the year 1951 I was sent on my own, without my wife and children, with a few others to Uruguay to build up a new community near to Montevideo. I was there for over a year, then returned again to Paraguay and to my family. 1956 Lini and I were sent to Asunción as house parents. The Bruderhof had two houses there, where 15 young people attended the higher educational establishments in the city to get better and higher qualifications. This was a very happy and lively time that lasted for just over a year. With us we had our youngest son, three month old Matthias. In June or July 1960 Lini and I were sent to England with four of our children, to help out in the community there. Our three eldest stayed behind in Paraguay and Brazil. In 1941 we had left just three members behind in England to tie up our affairs and then join us. But during the war so many came who were searching for a new and different way of life, so in the end a new community was started in England. After twenty years of hard and valuable pioneering work in Paraguay, it was all dissolved in 1961. It was followed by the re________________________
*) Footnote by Erdmuthe Arnold (not published in the KIT Newsletter): Let me make a remark about Wilhelm mentioning the warship Graf Speer. That ship exploded one year earlier (December 17 th, 1939), and it was the captain himself who sank the ship after a terrible fight on sea with English marines around December 13th, 1939. The ship Graf Speer was hit several times, many men died or were wounded on both sides. The captain, Hans Langsdorff, had hoped to get his very modern and quick ship repaired in the harbour of Montevideo. But he was not admitted. And the British enemy wouldn’t let him sail into the open See. The captain then made sure that the crew could leave the ship. They reached Uruguay or Argentine by boats. Langsdorff stayed on board and sank the ship by explosions. An old friend of mine, late Ernesto Kroch, watched this from the Cerro, the hill which gave "Monte video" its name. He wrote about this in his book: "Heimat im Exil - Exil in der Heimat, Autobiographie," published 2004 here in Germany by Assoziation A, pages 97/98. The wreck of the ship could be seen in front of Montevideo's harbour for many years, Ernesto says for decades! I interviewed him about this in 2005.

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1956 Wilhelm and Lini Fischer were the house parents in Asunción. Lini, second from left, could take three month old Matthias with her. There are lots of people in that picture known to many of us, for instance to the right Victor Crawly, Hermann Arnold, Hilda Crawly, Fida Mathis. Wilhelm’s face is half hidden behind Biene Braun, Evi Dreher and another girl. Next to him on the left Harry Maggie and Kristel Klüver. Franzhard Arnold is in the back line (from left) next to Seppel Fischli, Klaus Meier, next ?, and Hartmut Klüver (?). In the front squatted: Ludwig Fischer, David Hüssy as well as one of his twin brothers and Michael Vigar with a kitten.

Another photo from that time – On the tower of the Bruderhof house: From left Noel Beels, Fida Mathis, Ludwig Fischer with his baby brother Matthias, Peti Mathis and Franzhard Arnold.

location to USA, England and Germany. During this time Lini and I were asked to take some time away to think things over – after thirty years of living in community. But we never returned. We lived for ten and a half years with five of our children on a 2000 acre farm. Now [1986] we have been here in Winchcombe for fourteen years in the house belonging to Joan and Kuller [Guillermo]. They themselves have now been in Paraguay for almost eight years, where they have settled with their four children.

1963, the oldest daughter Lucrezia and her husband Hans-Jörg Meier, who had decided to stay in South America, visited the Fischer family in England. From left: Wilhelm, Guillermo, Mathias, Giovanni, Lucrezia, Hans-Jörg, and Markus.

Two Reports Published Together With Wilhelm Fischer’s Life Story in the KIT Newsletter

Fred Kemp a Pioneer in Wheathill
By Erdmuthe Arnold
The last Buderhof the Fischers lived at was Wheathill. A family picture at Easter time 1961. Shortly after that Wilhelm and Lini left the community with their youngest four children. Only Johanna stayed on the Bruderhof: She married David Mason 1963; sadly she died after giving birth to another child September 20 th, 1977. On the photo from left to right: Johanna with Matthias, Lini, Giovanni, Wilhelm, Markus and Friedrich. (At that time still in South America: Lucrezia, Ludwig and Guillermo.) Passport photo of Ludwig and Guillermo Fischer 1962.

Some time ago I got hold of a Bruderhof brochure “Memories of Cotswold Days - Told by Stanley Fletcher and Others”, 1984. According to what Stanley is telling, Fred must have been one of the first ones who came to the Wheathill Bruderhof, maybe he also got to know the Cotswold Bruderhof, after all members with their families had left for Paraguay in 1941. The British War Agriculture Committee had doubts if the people who bought the Lower Bromdon Farm knew very much about good farming. Few months after the place was started March 1942 the only ones they thought were promising and able to run a good farm were, as Stanley remembered: “Sydney [Hindley], who had been a poultry farmer, and Fred Kemp, who was a real country boy. In their tour round the farm they had found Fred laying a hedge. ... One of the men said: ‘This is not the first time you laid a hedge, is it?’”

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Fred subsequently joined during and not after World War II, as was written down in the KIT Newsletter from August 2005. Only after my “Memories of Fred Kemp” were published, I received a photo showing Fred behind one of his beloved Black Current bushes. My uncle Albert Löffler received it from the Brethren community in Bright. Fred was born in Wales on February 6th, 1914, only two weeks later than my mother Gertrud Arnold (January 21st, 1914), as Fred repeatedly told my uncle. He died December 28th, 2004 from double pneumonia in a hospital in Woodstock near the Brethren Community Farm in Bright/Ontario. FROM MEMORIES PUBLISHED IN KIT, AUGUST 2005 In Wheathill, and later in Primavera and El Arado Fred worked as chief gardener with high skills on this field. During the big crisis 1960/61 Fred returned to England to live in Bulstrode; only to leave the community and country after a short time. Next station was Forest River in North Dakota, where he stayed from 1962 to 1964. At the Brethren Community Farm Bright Fred found a new home in fall 1964. There again he could follow his passion as gardener. It must have been so overwhelming that over all the years he couldn’t straighten up his body anymore. In the last decades of his life you could recognize him from afar, walking bent over like a triangle. On several of my visits to my uncle and aunt Albert and Gertrud Löffler near New Hamburg we visited Fred at the farm, who had become a good family friend.

After this period working with children, she trained as a nurse and joined the deaconess order with the aim to help the sick and disabled. But her main inspiration was, to bring a “personal Christ” to them. She was loyal to this pious and subjective Christianity until she died. Marie came to the Bruderhof 1932 and brought a mentally unbalanced girl with her. This girl is never mentioned again, except that the Bruderhof was unable to help her because she wouldn’t comply. All her life Marie studied the Old and New Testament, especially the Letters of the Apostles, and she would speak mainly in Biblical language. My cousin Elisabeth Bohlken Zumpe recalls from what her parents and grandmother told her, that Marie stayed on the Rhönbruderhof until the place was closed 1937. She left Germany with the last group on April 17th, travelling via Holland. They could enter England two months later on June 15th, 1937 (the exact dates are from Hans Zumpe’s report; mentioned in a caption on page 10). Many Swiss people were in that group, for instance Trautel and Leo Dreher as well as Margrit Meier and Else Boller. Other names that come to mind, are Irmgard Keiderling and Sekunda Kleiner, these four women travelling alone with their children (Margrit, Else and Irmgard leaving their husbands behind – who were imprisoned by the Nazis).
Marie Johanna Eckardt, on the Cotswold Bruderhof in 1937.

Marie Johanna Eckardt (1874 – 1963)
By Erdmuthe Arnold The oldest member joining the Rhönbruderhof was Marie Johanna Eckardt, born May 15th, 1874 in Kletzko/Poland. She died at the age of 88 on January 22nd 1963 on the Evergreen Bruderhof in Connecticut. Hans-Hermann Arnold, at that time Servant there, remembered her during a Love Meal the next day. Marie was a trained Kindergarten teacher and had sixty children in her care from 1893 until 1901. She was strict and handled them with typical Prussian military control, expecting absolute obedience. Shortly before her death Marie had shared with Bruderhof members details about her life during a family supper.

Marie had the personal permission from Eberhard Arnold to keep on wearing her deaconess dress. She continued doing this throughout her 20 years in Primavera. She was a member but always lived apart from the community life in her own little world. Some of the KIT readers will not have the happiest memories of being in the care of Marie. “Difficult girls” would be taken away from their family and had to live with Marie in Loma Hoby, always one at the time. Some of them had to endure this kind of Ausschluss for several years, and had to listen to the Bible readings from their tutor Marie. Elisabeth remembers that those girls were not allowed to go to school, and they would always come to the common meals in the dining room together with and in the shadow of Marie. The other children never dared to ask what the reason was for this kind of punishment. As to the girls this traumatic experience never left them, although some of them say that the Bible knowledge is something that gave their lives direction.

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