Alwinz (Alwinc, Alvinc) is a town in Transylvania (then Austria, now Vinţu de Jos, Alba Judet (county), Romania) where in 1621 a Hutterite Bruderhof composed of refugees from Slovakia was established, which existed up to 1767. When the Hutterites were hard pressed by the rising power of the Catholic estates in Austria, Moravia and Hungary, Bethlen Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, offered 183 homeless Brethren a refuge in his principality. In the charter (Hausbrief) of the Alwinz settlement of 1622, he says, "As I was made aware that the Brethren have been driven from their homes, I have received them as competent workers and craftsmen who could teach others, and I assign to them fields and vineyards." In 1623 another group of exiled Hutterites from Maskowitz in Moravia were settled in Alwinz (Beck, 416). Here they began anew to establish their customary community of goods on the Bruderhof. Then came war, and Turk and Tatar alike burned and plundered the settlement (1658-1661), so that the residents had to take refuge in the fortress of nearby Hermannstadt. After that time the group never was able to develop successfully. By the middle of the eighteenth century the number of Brethren who were still loyal to the old ways had dwindled to about fifty, and when as the final test, the new type of persecution by the Jesuits came upon them in the mid-eighteenth century, not more than nineteen persons stood the trial. The rest were gradually converted to Catholicism.
At this critical juncture, a stream of fresh blood came into the brotherhood from a totally unexpected side. Lutheran transmigrants from Carinthia arrived in Transylvania in 1755 and 1756, and a few of their men found work in and around Alwinz. Andreas Würz and Georg Waldner (father of Johannes Waldner, the author of tie Klein-Geschichtsbuch) were among them. While these newcomers got into great difficulties with authorities and nobles, the small Hutterite flock at Alwinz (among them the courageous and strong Joseph Kuhr) received them in a brotherly way. The Carinthians listened. Here were new sounds never heard before. Here was the true Gospel spirit, and a living concern for one's neighbor. They now stopped going to the Lutheran worship, began reading Hutterite books (Riedemann's Rechenschaft), and soon were convinced that the Hutterite way was the right way for earnest Christians. This came to pass in spite of the fact that the old Alwinz Hutterite group was but a shadow of the great past, and the communistic organization of the Bruderhof had long been given up. As the chronicles state, the brotherhood was dying out (im Verfliessen). It is of interest to note that preacher Roth corresponded with Peter Weber, preacher of Hardenburg in the Palatinate. In 1761 the Carinthian "New" Hutterites began to establish a brotherhood in nearby Creutz, as reported in Johannes Waldner's chronicle (Denkwürdigkeiten), now published as Klein-Geschichtsbuch der Hutterischen Brüder. In 1762 Hans Kleinsasser (formerly from Carinthia) was elected Vorsteher or bishop of the new brotherhood, and was ordained in Alwinz by the laying on of hands by the Vorsteher of the "Old Alwinz" group, Märtl Roth (who himself was soon to turn Catholic). In 1762 new and severe persecutions and oppressions set in, guided in the main by the notorious Jesuit Delphini. Brethren were put into prison, and the seizure of their children was threatened. There could no longer be any doubt that the government planned their total eradication, and it became clear that there was no chance to survive in Transylvania. After much praying, counseling and hesitation, and after two Brethren, Joseph Kuhr and Johannes Stahl, had explored new possibilities in Wallachia beyond the Carpathian Mountains, the brotherhood in Alwinz decided to risk the new venture. With unheard of hardships they escaped from Transylvania, young and old, healthy and sick, crossing a rugged mountain pass, until they reached their new, and yet only temporary destination, the fertile plains of Wallachia. That was in 1767. Several Brethren from Alwinz who at this time lay in chains in a Hermannstadt jail, joined them later after liberation. The brotherhood was saved from extinction, and a new life began. After further migration in 1782 into the Ukraine, where Count Rumyantsev settled them at Vyshenka, even the traditional community of goods was re-established.
The Dutch [[Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de Vereenigde Nederlanden|Naamlijst]] of 1755 names Mertil Bothas elder of the Alwinz Bruderhof after 1742, and Joseph Gor (Kuhr) as minister after 1747. Deknatel, an Amsterdam preacher, carried on a correspondence with the Alwinz Bruderhof and sent it money contributed by the Dutch Mennonites.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in OesterreichUngarn. Vienna, 1883. Reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.
Bieltz, Julius. "Eine Habaner Töpfersiedlung in Siebenbürgen (Alwintz)." Wiener Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 32 (1927).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 48.
Horsch, John. The Huttenan Brethren, 1528-1931: a story of martyrdom and loyalty. Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1931: 89-95.
Das Klein-Geschichtsbuch der Hutterischen Brüder. A. J. F. Zieglschmid, ed. Philadelphia : Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, 1947. 239-257.
Loserth, Johann. "Decline and Revival of the Hutterites." Mennonite Quarterly Review 4 (1930): 93-112.
Schmidt, W. Die Stiftung des katholischen theresianischen Waisenhauses zu Hermannstadt im Jahre 1767 (n.d., hitherto unknown) contains an important appendix on the conversion of the Hutterian Brethren to Catholicism. This book and the archives of the former official state university in Hermannstadt contain further significant material, especially on the cross-examinations of the Hutterites and Carinthians, e.g., Michael Hofer; Robert Friedmann, in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 26 (1929): 181.
Cite This Article
Friedmann, Robert. "Alwinz (Transylvania, Romania)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 25 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Alwinz_(Transylvania,_Romania)&oldid=120037.
Friedmann, Robert. (1955). Alwinz (Transylvania, Romania). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Alwinz_(Transylvania,_Romania)&oldid=120037.
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