Bruchsal (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)
Bruchsal, a district in Baden, Karlsruhe area. In this territory, most of which belonged to the bishopric of Speyer in the Reformation period, Anabaptism had gained a footing early in the second quarter of the 16th century. The town of Bruchsal was the center of the South German Anabaptists. Here a large congregation quietly developed, from which the doctrine spread into the neighboring parts of the Palatinate.
The first preacher seems to have been Philip Plener (also called Weber), who came originally either from Strasbourg or Bruchsal, and who preached the Gospel with great success in this region in 1527. He apparently did not stay here long; for we meet him soon afterward near Heidelberg, where he was also very successful. In Bruchsal he had won a zealous companion in Blasius Kuhn, who traveled from place to place, preaching and baptizing. Leadership of the Bruchsal congregation, which in 1530 numbered 500, was assumed by Julius Lober from Zürich. The rapid increase in membership could not remain concealed from the clergy. In 1529 the bishopric of Bruchsal complained about it to the bishop of Speyer. With very severe measures the episcopal officials attacked the brotherhood. No details have been handed down about the persecution they introduced; but the brief notices of the court records indicate that the congregation was harshly suppressed. In 1531 five Anabaptists suffered a martyr's death (Beck, 311). Many members fled, most of them under the leadership of Blasius Kuhn to Auspitz in Moravia into the church of their former preacher Philip Plener (Beck, 71). A part of the Bruchsal congregation wished to return to their old home when persecution set in in Moravia, but were seized at Passau, 14 September 1535. The records of the trials list from Bruchsal Michael Khumbauf, widow Barbara, Apollonia and Hans Fuchs, all baptized by Philip Plener; Gertraut Treytl (Michael Schneider's wife), baptized by Julius Lober; Anna (wife of Michel of Bruchsal), baptized by Konrad Scheid; and Anna of Durlach (Hans Steuber's wife), baptized by Hans Kellner (Wolkan, 30). They were fellow prisoners in the castle dungeon at Passau with the Anabaptists who laid the foundation of the Ausbund with the hymns they wrote here.
In the town of Bruchsal there were traces of Anabaptists until 1545 in spite of sharp watchfulness. In the adjacent villages the movement was also felt early. In Oberöwisheim they had a large following; the manager reported in 1531 that they held meetings there and asked for regulations to deal with them. In February 1532 some Anabaptists were thereupon arrested, and their devotional literature taken away. They were thrown into prison and placed into the stocks, freezing their feet in the cold. Their property was confiscated and their children were forcibly baptized (Bossert 84).
In the neighboring Zeutern 12 men and women were captured in April 1531 and taken to Kislau (now a police house of correction) with their spokesman Michael N. They were so thoroughly convinced of the truth of their faith, that all attempts of the clergy to convert them failed and threats of punishment did not move them. The expectation of the imminent return of Christ had filled them with such hope, that Michael N. declared to the cathedral preacher Dr. Gro of Speyer, "though he or more of them were to be killed, the Anabaptist cause would not be eradicated; for it was so widespread and so numerous that it would be impossible to wipe it out" (Bossert, 79). Another prisoner at Kislau declined to recant, but offered to emigrate. If they refused to permit this he would suffer death (Bossert, 84). There were also some Anabaptists in Mingolsheim and Heidelsheim at this time; the latter village was the home of Wendel Metzger, who was a very active preacher in the vicinity of Bruchsal about 1539.
About the middle of the 16th century the Anabaptist movement in the region of the present Bruchsal district was totally suppressed; it was not revived even in the time of toleration. Recently some isolated Mennonite families settled there (see Baden). According to the census of 1 December 1910 there were 16 Mennonites in the district, six of them in Waghäusel and two in Bruchsal.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.
Beiträge zur Statistik des Grossherzogtums Baden, No. 63: 148.
Bossert, Gustav. "Beiträge zur badisch-pfälz. Reformation-Geschichte." Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins 59 (1904): 71-88.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 277.
Wolkan, Rudolf. Geschicht-Buch der Hutterischen Brüder. Macleod, AB, and Vienna, 1923.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 444. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Hege, Christian. "Bruchsal (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B78523.html.
APA style: Hege, Christian. (1953). Bruchsal (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B78523.html.