Lechfeld (Freistaat Bayern, Germany)
Lechfeld, Bavaria, Germany, a Mennonite refugee camp and temporary settlement (1921-1925), located on the former military drill ground of the same name about 10-12 miles (16-19 km) directly south of Augsburg. The Mennonitische Flüchtlingsfürsorge (M.F.F., founded 12 November 1920), a German Mennonite organization, sought in various ways to aid Mennonite refugees from Russia who had come to Germany before the major emigration movement from Russia to Canada in 1923-25. A small colonization attempt in Mecklenburg in 1921 had failed. A similar attempt at Camp Lechfeld, although on a much larger scale, beginning in April 1921, also failed and by 1926 was completely abandoned for lack of funds. In 1923 a separate transit refugee camp was established at Lechfeld for Russian Mennonites who were temporarily held back from emigration to Canada because of trachoma or other health reasons. From 27 July to 19 August 1923 a total of 658 Mennonites were successfully treated. By 31 October 1924 the camp had given a total of 85,000 days of nursing care. The remnant still at Lechfeld when the camp was closed were transferred to the Ueberseeheim, a refugee home in Hamburg.
The Lechfeld colonization scheme was an extensive one and failed in part because of lack of the necessary capital. The German government made 2,000 acres available, together with barracks and other buildings. The M.F.F., having little capital, could not handle the project alone, hence arranged a working agreement, whereby it (M.F.F.), the relief agency Christenpflicht of Ingolstadt, and the Conference of German Baptists were to cooperate in the plan. Loans were secured, an agricultural director was appointed—Michael Horsch of Hellmannsberg, then Philipp Lichti of Herrlehof, under whom Philipp Hege had the direct management. Place was to be provided for 60 families. By Christmas of 1921 there were 180 Mennonites present. Schools were established (Jakob Ewert was one of the teachers) and other religious and cultural activities undertaken. Home industry was established, particularly basket weaving and a small clothing factory. For three years, 1921-1923, the farm was operated successfully, but the burden of supporting too many refugees who could not work became too great. The German government refugee commission had intended Lechfeld to be a temporary project of five years, while the Mennonites tried to make it a permanent settlement with the intent to sell the land in smaller parcels to the refugee families. However, the success of the great movement from Russia to Canada, the inflation in Germany, the lack of unity among the three relief agencies and with the German government, led to the abandonment of what had once been a promising venture. The only large attempt at a permanent Russian Mennonite settlement in Germany had failed. The M.F.F. changed its name in May 1922 to "Deutsche Mennoniten-Hilfe."
"Das Lechfeld Siedlungsland." Mennonitische Blätter 69 (1922): 12 f.
Deutsche Mennoniten-Hilfe, ihre Entstehung und Arbeitsgebiete. Oberursel, 1924.
Horsch, John. "A Mennonite Relief Work for Russian Fugitives," Gospel Herald 14 (9 June 1921): 203 f.
Horsch, Michael. "The Mennonite Colony on the Lechfeld." Gospel Herald 14 (7 July 1921): 267 f.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 626; III, 208.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 303-304. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Lechfeld (Freistaat Bayern, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L4285.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1957). Lechfeld (Freistaat Bayern, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L4285.html.