Hamster, Hans (16th century)
Hans Hamster, an Anabaptist martyr, a peasant of Reinsdorf near Zwickau, Germany, brother-in-law of Georg, Heinrich, and Jobst Möller (Müller); after their martyrdom, at the age of 30, he joined the Anabaptists. When the lord of Weida at Wildenfels refused to tolerate this step, Hamster fled to the region of Jörg Uttenhofer on the Silberstrasse, and associated with the tailor Hans Steinsdorf at Schneeberg, they mutually strengthening each other. Both considered infant baptism without value, denied original sin, declared the sacrament to be mere bread and wine, recognized the government and the obedience due it as long as it performed God's will. They rejected community of goods, but held that those who have much should share and not permit their neighbor to suffer want. On 20 July 1538, Steinsdorf and his apprentice were arrested, and on 24 August the same fate befell Hamster. He was tried 26 and 27 August (court records in Wappler, 110-12). He confessed that he had not been rebaptized; but he believed that his baptism 33 years previously had no value because he had not understood it. And if sin had been taken from him at that time he would not have been a bad boy.
Hamster was now transferred to the Zwickau prison, where Steinsdorf also lay. But they were not put together. Repeatedly they were examined or "instructed in the faith." Hamster said he would gladly be wherever God the Almighty put him; even if he were to be expelled from the country he would not swear, for God had forbidden it; he would rather stay with his family and provide for them with labor, as he had always done. He did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh; for the spirit had come from the Father and would return to the Father; but flesh and blood had nothing to do with the divine Father.
When all efforts to convert them proved futile, their confession was sent to the Elector of Saxony with the comment, "They are laymen; neither can read or write; they are little versed in the Old and New Testaments, but place their faith on the spirit which they boast they have from God the Father." The elector relegated to the court at Wittenberg the matter of sentencing them. The court had difficulty in reaching a decision and repeatedly questioned the prisoners. "But they persisted in their faith." They were probably beheaded near the end of 1538.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 244 f.
Wappler, P. Inquisition und Ketzerprozesse in Zwickau zur Reformations Zeit. Leipzig, 1908.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 645. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Hamster, Hans (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/hamster_hans_16th_century.
APA style: Neff, Christian. (1956). Hamster, Hans (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/hamster_hans_16th_century.