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Waisenhaus (Orphanage), a prison in Bern, Switzerland, was built in 1657 as a dual purpose building: (1) as a reformatory and (2) as a training school for orphan children. It was located on the north side of the French Church (then the Predigerkirche). From the beginning it was also used as a prison for Anabaptists, and the very first instruction (13 July 1657) to the board of managers specified that provision be made for "Widerteufer." Then on 20 December 1658, the city council ordered the magistrates of Thun, Burgdorf, Langenthal, and Brugg to arrest the Anabaptist ministers and send them to Bern, and decreed that "a directorium of civil and clerical persons be established to see that this intent against the Anabaptist sect be diligently pursued and execution accomplished." This was the origin of the notorious "Täuferkammer" (Anabaptist Bureau; see Bern) set up later. A subcommission of six was then set up on 4 January 1659, called "Committeerten zum Teufferischen geschefft," which had direct charge of Anabaptist matters under the Waisenhaus board. The first Anabaptist minister to be imprisoned in the Waisenhaus was Anthoni Himmelberg, incarcerated on 24 June 1658, who died in prison on 25 October 1660. The Waisenhaus served for many years as the Anabaptist incarceration house.


Fluri, Adolf. "Das Waisenhaus als Täufer-Gefangnis". Beiträge zur Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Bern, 1912: 22 pp. of a reprint from Blätter für bernische Geschichte, Kunst und Altertumskunde.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Waisenhaus." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 Sep 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waisenhaus&oldid=78538.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Waisenhaus. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waisenhaus&oldid=78538.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 872. All rights reserved.

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