Jena (Thuringia, Germany)
Jena is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It had a population of 102,201 in 2005. Here the preacher Martin Reinhard, supported by Gerhard Westerburg, opposed infant baptism without, however, ceasing to practice it. In March 1524 Reinhard had republished a book of A.D. 1430 with the title, Anzeigung, wie die gefallene Christenheit wiedergebracht mög werden in ihren ersten Stand; it contains the demands made by the Bohemian Brethren "who held to the evangelical doctrine" at the Council of Basel in 1430 (Keller, 202). After Luther's dispute with Karlstadt at Jena, Reinhard was banished in 1524. He went to Nürnberg, whence he was again banished on 17 December 1524 (Keller, 227).
Several years later some events took place which were to be decisive in the suppression of the Anabaptists in Thuringia. On 30 November 1535, 16 Anabaptists were seized at a meeting in Kleineutersdorf. Four men of this group, Hans Peissker, Heinz Kraut, Jobs Möller, and Lorenz Petzsch, were taken to Jena; Petzsch had not yet been baptized, and since he seemed inclined to recant he was separated from the others. The cross-examinations were begun on 1 December by the city pastor and several councillors; Kaspar Cruciger and Philipp Melanchthon also took part; but all attempts to make them recant failed. Melanchthon reported to Elector John Frederick the fruitless course of the investigation and advised him to apply serious penalties against the prisoners. He wrote on 19 January 1536, "Although some may not in other respects be obstinate people, yet the dangerous sects must be resisted in which is so much terrible, shameful error" (Corpus Reformatorum III, 16). The three prisoners were then put on the rack. Since nothing could be pressed from them beyond what they had already said, they were sentenced to death on 26 January 1536, on the strength of an opinion of the law school of the University of Wittenberg, which had been transferred to Jena because of the plague. They were executed on the same day. Lorenz Petzsch, who had been kept alone in a cell, escaped before the execution.
At the urging of Melanchthon, John Frederick issued a mandate on 10 April 1536 in which the statements of the executed were compiled and proved erroneous, unchristian, and deserving of punishment. At the same time Melanchthon wrote a booklet, Verlegung etlicher unchristlicher Artikel, welche die Wiedertäufer vorgeben, which was sent to every pastor in their jurisdiction, with orders that it be read from the pulpit and explained every third Sunday, so that every one might avoid severe punishment. It was published in Wittenberg in 1536.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II: 403.
Keller, Ludwig. Johann Staupitz und die Anfänge der Reformation. Leipzig, 1888.
Wappler, Paul. Die Stellung Kursachsens und des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen zur Täuferbewegung. Münster, 1910.
Wappler, Paul. Die Täuferbewegung in Thüringen von 1526-1584. Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1913.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 105. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Hege, Christian. "Jena (Thuringia, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/J448.html.
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