Kürnbach, a town in the Bretten district of Baden, Germany, with 1,202 Protestant inhabitants in 1933. In 1525 the pastor, Wendel Ziegler, used German in baptizing and at the insistence of the congregation distributed communion in both kinds. After the Peasants' War the Austrian government suppressed Protestantism in Stuttgart. Consequently the evangelically minded went to the adjacent villages of the Imperial Knights for their spiritual food, thereby coming in contact with the Anabaptists.
About 1530 Michel Jungmann, approximately 45 years old, was baptized by Blasius (Kuhn) of Bruchsal at Zaberfeld (in the jurisdiction of the barons von Sternenfels zu Ochsenburg) in the home of Stratz Bernhard, together with Bernhard's wife, Bastian N., and Hans Lemmer of Ochsenburg (the last two deserted the movement later on) and Barbel Bender of Sulzfeld, who died in Moravia. As his motive for joining the Anabaptist movement Jungmann stated that he had heard in sermons, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." Also the offensive life of the priests repelled him.
Not long after, Jungmann was arrested by the mayor of Güglingen. With the executioner at his side he was commanded to go to church, hear mass, and accept the papacy. In the face of fire, Jungmann consented and was released. But when he was to swear to leave the town forever he could not commit such an "abomination and idolatry," and he fled to Moravia, where he lived in "Augsten" (Auspitz?). When he heard that Duke Ulrich had returned, he hastened home. About 1543 he was again banished, but soon returned, only to be banished once more.
During the interim the Anabaptist movement spread. The Brethren easily found shelter in the many localities owned by the Imperial Knights. They met in the forest of Bretten near Flehingen, where Schoch Hans of Königsbach preached and baptized, also a Bastian of Dinglingen from Strasbourg. There was no need of a special "sign" by which they could recognize each other. They soon learned to know each other. From Durlach there were Martin Schneider; Margaretha, wife of Matheis Starcker; a farmhand, Simon N., from Alsace; Katharina, the wife of Augustin N.; and Jakob Hartmann; from Knielingen (near Karlsruhe), Cyriakus N. and Wendel N.; from Eggenstein (near Karlsruhe), Matheis N.; from Kürnbach, Michel Zainer and Heinrich Bierer, who had however not been baptized; and one from Diefenbach (Maulbronn district), who recanted.
Michel Jungmann also took part in these meetings. But as he was once coming to Kürnbach he was seized and taken to Güglingen. He was cross-examined three times; viz., on 18 March, 25 March, and 14 June 1555. With warmth he confessed: he placed his salvation on Christ our Lord, and wanted to become a partaker in it, by believing His words and living according to them. On the questions in which he differed from the church, he at first evaded the issue, but then he said concerning infant baptism: he knew nothing to say about it, knew no Scripture for it, and therefore let it stand on its own merit. Concerning the Lord's Supper he said in reply to the question whether he believed that the true body and blood of Christ were distributed in the sacrament: No, the bread and wine were rather symbols and remembrances. He had not preached or baptized, because he had not been called to do so. At the third hearing, when the executioner placed the rack beside him, he also gave the names of the leaders and the brethren and the place of meeting. To the magistrate he said he was a weak old man, not a sectarian, and only wanted to please God and his neighbor. He promised that if he was freed he would attend church; as God gave him warning and light he would live; but one must live according to Protestant doctrine. Upon the signed promise to leave the country he was permitted to return to Durlach.
About two years later Jungmann was again at Kürnbach in spite of his promise, together with his son Hans and Margarete Bierer of Pfaffenhofen, who were mentioned several times in previous hearings. They were all arrested. Michel was again cross-examined, and said he "would have all things in common." The magistrate banished him again. This time Hans Jungmann knew the appropriate Scripture passages and argued with the pastor nine weeks in prison. Finally he declared he was willing to go to church. Margarete Bierer agreed with him. They went to church, even took communion and attended the baptismal service of an infant, and were then set free. Jungmann died soon afterward in the Palatinate; Margarete stayed in Durlach three years, returned to Pfaffenhofen, and in 1562 was once more among the Anabaptists.
In 1572 new trials were held for Anabaptists whose names are not known. In 1576 two new adherents were baptized: Michel Jungmann, probably a son of Hans and grandson of the older Michel, and Joachim Roth. They were questioned in Stuttgart. Roth promised to join the church and leave the Anabaptists. a formal trial was arranged for Jungmann. But he apparently submitted too; for in 1583 he was again held in Kürnbach, as well as the backslidden Roth, Katharina, the wife of Jakob Ludwig, the gatekeeper and the riding servant and other subjects of Bernhard von Sternenfels. Jungmann seems to have persisted in his faith and been banished, but was protected by von Sternenfels who needed him as a builder. In 1586 Sternenfels was still employing the gatekeeper, and also Reichardus Reichart of Endersbach (near Stuttgart) as cooper. The duke demanded that proceedings be initiated against all of them because they adhered to Anabaptist doctrine.
In 1602 a servant at the castle was called a "Wiedertäufer." Then all traces of the Anabaptist movement disappeared from Kürnbach. The revelations made in the trials concerning the piety of the Anabaptists are a pleasant picture; they wanted to live for their faith as God-fearing people, resisted the government only when it violated their conscience (oath, war); the judgment of the officials varied, but generally there was a feeling of human pity for their destruction.
Becker, Eduard. "Die Wiedertäufer zu Kürnbach." Beiträge zur hessischen Kirchengeschichte 1 (1903): 113-139.
Bossert, G. "Die Reformation in Kürnbach bei Eppingen." Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins 51 (1897): 83-107.
Bossert, Gustav. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer I. Band, Herzogtum Württemberg. Leipzig: M. Heinsius, 1930.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 587 f.
Krebs, Manfred. Quellen zur Geschichte der Tääufer. IV. Band, Baden and Pfalz. Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1951.
Cite This Article
Becker, Eduard. "Kürnbach (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 29 Jan 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=K%C3%BCrnbach_(Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg,_Germany)&oldid=92370.
Becker, Eduard. (1958). Kürnbach (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 January 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=K%C3%BCrnbach_(Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg,_Germany)&oldid=92370.
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