Täuferjäger (Anabaptist-Hunters), a permanent police agency especially created to catch the Mennonites, one of the most infamous institutions of the Bernese state government in the first half of the 18th century. A blind zeal for the preservation of religious uniformity had taken possession of the aristocratic government, and it became the duty of the Täuferkammer to create its own agency to apprehend the Mennonites, the "Anabaptist-Hunters." It was largely composed of rough brutal men, irresponsible persons who hunted down the Mennonites with ruthless violence and injustice in the service of the government.
For the discovery of a concealed Mennonite the Bernese council offered a reward of 30 crowns on 28 December 1709 (a crown is about equal to a dollar). The "Hunters" were ordered to look especially for Mennonite preachers and keep their eyes open for those who offered their houses and barns for meetings. It was reported that the Mennonites were living in the most remote of the Alpine huts. Everywhere they were to be hunted like game. In the Mennonite homes these men caused tremendous damage, especially if they thought they were on the trail of a preacher.
Among the common people the "Hunters" found little sympathy. Wherever possible people hindered them and protected the Mennonites. Bonfires were lit and bells were rung to warn of the approach of the hated "hunters." Some citizens had to pay heavy fines for helping the victims escape. In the middle of the 18th century this institution was discontinued.
Geiser, Samuel. Die Taufgesinnten-Gemeinden. Karlsruhe, 1931.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: IV.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 685. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Neff, Christian and Samuel Geiser. "Täuferjäger." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T3793.html.
APA style: Neff, Christian and Samuel Geiser. (1959). Täuferjäger. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T3793.html.