The Mennonite Encyclopedia, GAMEO, and Public History in the Digital Age

Jason B. Kauffman

Last spring, I represented Mennonite Church USA at my first Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online board meeting. GAMEO is “the most trusted online source for information on Anabaptist groups around the world” with articles on “Anabaptist-related congregations, denominations, conferences, institutions and significant individuals, as well as historical and theological topics.”1 Those familiar with GAMEO know that much of its content originated over fifty years ago with the publication of the four-volume Mennonite Encyclopedia (ME). Many updates were included in a fifth edition of ME, published in 1990, and over 4,000 more articles have been added since GAMEO went online in 1996.2 But there are still a host of articles that were published in the 1950s and have not been updated since. For example, the entry for Orrville Mennonite Church, my home congregation, was authored by Harold S. Bender in 1959.

During the board meetings, we spent much time discussing how to encourage more people to get involved with GAMEO.3 As a public history project, GAMEO holds enormous potential to harness the collective knowledge of the global Anabaptist community. Janneken Smucker pointed this out in a recent blog post on crowdsourcing Anabaptist history. As she notes, one of the biggest challenges for a public history project lies in “cultivating an enthusiastic community of participants.” But is that all it takes? In a search for answers to this question, I started to think about what went on behind the scenes during the fourteen years it took to produce the original ME, one of the most well-known, inter-Mennonite public history projects.4 What accounted for its success and what, if anything, can the project teach us about doing public history in 2018?5 I spent time looking at some of the project files of the ME at the MC USA Archives (Elkhart) and here’s what I came up with.6


Mennonite Encyclopedia Writer’s Acceptance Card (MC USA Archives)

First, a public history project requires extensive planning and the dedication of a core group of leaders. As Smucker noted in her blog, enthusiastic communities of participants do not cultivate themselves. Before the project began, the ME editorial board enlisted the support of an international group of editorial consultants. The board also developed criteria for article topics and assembled a list of potential contributors. Managing editor Melvin Gingerich then mailed thousands of letters to prospective authors to invite their participation and supply writing instructions. The finished product included over 13,000 articles contributed by more than 2,700 writers. Like its predecessor, GAMEO has also benefitted from strong leadership. Sam Steiner, Marlene Epp, Richard Thiessen, Bert Friesen, Susan Huebert, and many others have given years to the project, commissioning or writing new articles, updating old ones, and editing submissions. While both projects have enjoyed broad participation, neither would have been possible without heavy involvement from a core of dedicated individuals. For example, over half of the content of the original ME was generated by just eight people.7 My guess is that a similar scenario is true for GAMEO.


Celebration of the Mennonite Encyclopedia, 4th Volume, August 11, 1959: Left to right: Cornelius Krahn, Harold S. Bender, Melvin Gingerich. (MC USA Archives)

Second, a successful public history project requires institutional support. While the ME was under production, the three top-ranking editors—Bender, Krahn, and Gingerich—enjoyed the full support of their employers. In fact, Goshen College and Biblical Seminary, Bethel College, and the Mennonite Research Foundation allowed each to devote up to one quarter of their time to the project. Lead editors for the GAMEO project have never had their duties written into their job descriptions, but several institutions have given critical support. For example, Conrad Grebel University College provided computer equipment and web hosting early on and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Winnipeg supported the digitization of volumes one through four of the ME.8 Most recently, the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism provided an institutional home for GAMEO under the direction of general editor John D. Roth.


Emily Horsch Bender’s time sheet while working on Mennonite Encyclopedia. (MC USA Archives)

Finally, a successful public history project requires sustained financial support. The ME was underwritten from the beginning by three denominational publishers, which covered the cost of labor, travel, and office expenses. Aside from wages paid to the three lead editors, Elizabeth Horsch Bender earned wages as a translator and assistant editor (often on under-reported hours) as did dozens of secretaries and typists.9 Over fourteen years, the three publishers paid just under $40,000 in editorial expenses.10 Adjusted for inflation, this amount is equivalent to roughly $370,000 in 2018.11 The publishers also bore the cost of printing and binding all four volumes. That figure came to $91,000.12 In the final year of the project, A.J. Metzler anticipated that returns on sales would cover the printing and binding costs but none of the editorial costs and only part of the selling costs. In other words, the Mennonite Publishing House lost a significant amount of the money it invested in the project. He concluded, “While the justification of this investment would be fully defended by our historians and scholars, it may be questioned by others.”13 GAMEO operates on a yearly budget of about $4,000. Like the ME, it relies upon financial support from Anabaptist-related institutional sponsors in the United States and Canada. As with the ME’s 2700 writers, GAMEO authors do not receive compensation. Unlike the ME, however, GAMEO cannot pay its editors and relies upon smaller-scale contributions from a wider variety of sponsors.

So what can a comparison of the ME and GAMEO teach us about doing public history in the digital age? Of course not all public history projects are cut from the same cloth. The ME was a massive project. Many other public history projects, including GAMEO, function successfully on a much smaller scale. Moreover, most public history projects in 2018 do not result in the publication of a four-volume book series, so printing and binding costs are not part of the equation. Since GAMEO lives online, the annual budget mostly covers the cost of webhosting and IT support and email makes communication among editors and with authors much more rapid and less costly than it was for ME staff.

In light of these difference, one might question the usefulness of comparing the ME with GAMEO and other current efforts to do public history. However, since much of the content of the ME was generated by 2,700 contributors, I think it is possible to draw some useful conclusions, especially in light of current efforts to crowdsource digital history projects. For me, the comparison highlights the enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. The ME would not exist without the labor and expertise Elizabeth Bender gave to translations or the thousands of hours given by secretarial staff. Similarly, digital history projects like the University of Iowa’s DIY History require huge amounts of work behind the scenes. Before crowdsourcing could begin, the university invested time, labor, and resources to scan documents, store them, and develop specialized transcription software. It’s no coincidence that such an expansive project is hosted by a major public research university.

Much has been made of the “tremendous amount of work” that Bender, Krahn, and Gingerich invested in the creation of the ME.14 This is certainly true, but it didn’t hurt that they were being paid for their labor. As Conrad Stoesz pointed out in response to Smucker’s blog post, in the Anabaptist world we live in a time of “soft support for our…archival institutions” and, I would add, historical endeavors in general. This makes the volunteer efforts of GAMEO’s lead editors all the more impressive. They have given years of dedicated service to the project and created a valuable resource for anyone with access to the internet.

If you find GAMEO useful, I encourage you to give some money to support the project.15 Better yet, help us update old articles (beginning with many of the copious links included in this post) and generate new content. Please contact me or one of the other editors if you want to get involved. I would also welcome archivists, librarians, historians, and anyone else to weigh in on my conclusions and continue a conversation on the best ways to do Anabaptist public history in the digital age. Let’s get to work!

  1. Representatives of six partner organizations give oversight to the project and are responsible for its development. 
  2. GAMEO also incorporates content from multiple databases created by Marlene Epp with information on Canadian Mennonite congregations, individuals, and institutions. For a historical overview of the project, see [accessed 2-22-18] 
  3. See [accessed 2-21-18] 
  4. The ME was a joint venture of the Mennonite Church, the General Conference Mennonite Church, and the Mennonite Brethren Church and was guided by a 12-person editorial board and a 6-person publishing board. Bender assumed editorial responsibility for the project and Paul Erb of the Mennonite Publishing House chaired the publishing committee. Rachel Waltner, “From Anabaptism to Mennonitism: The Mennonite Encyclopedia as a Historical Document.” Mennonite Life 37 (December 1982): p. 13-14, 19. 
  5. The ME was generally well reviewed, both within Mennonite circles and by non-Mennonite church historians. In 1982, Rachel Waltner wrote that the ME “continues to be…the most accessible and authoritative reference work available on a host of Anabaptist and Mennonite topics.” Waltner, “From Anabaptism to Mennonitism,” p. 13. 
  6. The Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College also holds official records of the ME, most of which were created by associate editor Cornelius Krahn and his assistants. 
  7. These were Nanne van der Zijpp, H.S. Bender, Cornelius Krahn, Christian Neff, Christian Hege, Robert Friedmann, Melvin Gingerich, and Johann Loserth. H.S. Bender, “The Mennonite Encyclopedia: Report of the Editor to the Publishing Committee,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 38:4 (October 1964), 364. 
  8. Email communication with Sam Steiner, 2-16-18. 
  9. At least 27 secretarial staff people from Goshen earned wages through the ME project. “Ninth Report of the Managing Editor to Editor Harold S. Bender for the period September 1, 1955 – August 31, 1959,” Mennonite Encyclopedia Records, X-31-1, Box 11. MC USA Archives, Elkhart, Indiana. Elizabeth Horsch Bender spent hundreds of hours translating articles in the Mennonitisches Lexicon from German to English and, later, copyediting English language submissions. 
  10. The Mennonite Publishing House paid about $23,000, Faith and Life Press paid about $14,000, and the Mennonite Brethren Publishing House paid about $3,000. The amount each press paid was in proportion to the number of books they agreed to distribute and sell. 
  11. Consumer Price Index inflation calculator from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: [accessed, 2-22-2018]. 
  12. Our Mennonite Literature Service, 1958: Annual Report to the Mennonite Publication Board (Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1959), p. 6. 
  13. Our Mennonite Literature Service, 1959: Annual Report to the Mennonite Publication Board (Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1960), p. 15. 
  14. Waltner, “From Anabaptism to Mennonitism,” p. 15. 
  15. Donations should be sent to Mennonite World Conference and designated for GAMEO. 

Mennonite Elders Meet Crown Prince Frederick, Wednesday, February 26, 1868

Mennonites Accept and Contest Military Service in the German East: A Sesquicentennial Series

9.1 Crown Prince Frederick

Crown Prince Frederick

The Mennonite elders visiting Berlin to lobby for the retention of their military service exemption met with Crown Prince Frederick one hundred fifty years ago today and also with Hermann Wagener, a conservative activist who was also Otto von Bismarck’s good friend. A major impact of this visit was the Prince’s advice not to emigrate to Russia if they wanted to avoid the draft since it would soon be implemented there as well. As a result a portion of the Prussian Mennonites started investigating possibilities in the United States and two groups ended up moving to Harvey County, Kansas, and Gage County, Nebraska. Behind the scenes, an aide of the king, likely Generalmajor Heinrich von Tresckow, followed up on yesterday’s meeting with the elders by sending a memo today to the Acting Minister of War Podbielski and Minister of the Interior requesting they find a mutually agreeable solution to the petition the elders had written on the twentieth.1

The Crown Prince, the only son of King William I, would have been only thirty-six years old at the time of their meeting and had already been married for ten years to Victoria, the oldest daughter of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria. He became Emperor Frederick III upon his father’s death in 1888 only to succumb to throat cancer a few months later, passing the throne to his son William II who ruled until the demise of the Empire in 1918. Thus 1888 is known as the year of three emperors. Frederick was more progressive than either father or son and opposed to many of Bismarck’s policies. His slightly more liberal tendencies did not extend, however, to supporting Mennonites who wanted to evade military service since he wished the monarchy to respect the law and the principle of equality.

Their audience began at 1:30 p.m., presumably at the Crown Prince’s Palace near the Royal Palace on Unter den Linden Street. Peter Bartel reported that Johann Toews, the elder of the Ladekopp congregation, again served as the group’s spokesperson. Toews noted that the imperial military service law was a sad and fearful imposition. His Majesty would know that as the delegates of the Mennonite congregations they had come to seek refugee with the ruling dynasty in the hopes that royal mercy could lift them out of the clutches of that law.2

The Crown Prince responded to this group of older peasants, “But children, I will not be able to help you, because the law is higher than even the king.” He continued that he sympathized with their situation and hoped the king would find a way to soften the force of the law. That comment provided an opening for Toews to ask for a lengthy time limit.

“For what?” the Crown Prince asked. To prepare for emigration was the answer.

“And where would you go?” he asked next.

Johann Wiebe, the elder of the Fürstenwerder congregation, replied, “Your Royal Majesty, to the southern states of the Russia.”

“Oh my, then make sure you keep a path open for your children to return, for Russia will soon implement what we have here and then you will be sorry.”

Gerhard Penner, elder of the Heubuden congregation, tried a different tactic, repeating the same claim made to the king that they were loathe to emigrate and would do anything within reason the state demanded as long as it did not violate their conscience. Peter Bartel, the elder of the Gruppe congregation, followed up with a specific proposal, namely that the congregations would found and fund military hospitals in their midst to care for wounded or ailing soldiers both in times of war and peace but it had to be under the leadership of the congregations. When the Crown Prince asked in clarification if they expected the army to sent patients to them, Elder Johann Penner of the Thiensdorf congregation replied affirmatively.3

The insistence that this form of alternative service be performed under the control of the church is an early articulation of this principle of Mennonite autonomy from the state and the military that later was implemented in Russia before World War I as the forestry service and in the United States during World War II as Civilian Public Service, suggesting these anti-democratic Mennonite traditionalists nonetheless had something in common with progressive Mennonite institution builders in those other two countries. The Prussian groups did go on to found hospitals in Beatrice, Nebraska, and Newton, Kansas, so that one can see the remnants of a witness against Prussian militarism in twenty-first century Beatrice Community Hospital and Newton Medical Center.

The conversation with the Crown Prince now turned to theological questions, with the Crown Prince asking about the size and location of the Mennonite congregations, the age of people being baptized as adults, and how they dealt with the issue of not swearing oaths. That was actually regulated by a Prussian edict of 1827 that allowed for affirmation, but the elders instead referenced the presumably similar arrangement of the Moravian Brethren, a Pietist group the Crown Prince was acquainted with that would have been better known than Mennonites.4

They closed out their conversation with a discussion of each elder’s home village and an exchange about the level of ice on the Vistula River, a perennial source of concern as ice jams frequently caused flooding. Peter Bartel was left with a favorable impression of the Crown Prince and his support, although there is nothing else in the historical record to support the idea that Frederick desired to help Mennonites.5

By 5 p.m. the elders were visiting with Hermann Wagener, who had been the founding editor of Prussia’s most important conservative newspaper, the Kreuzzeitung, and was now a member of the lower house of the Prussian parliament, a key conservative leader, and important confidant of Bismarck. He had been supportive of the elders when they met with him earlier on the twentieth and had asked the elders to report everything they talked about with the Crown Prince. They now reported that conversation and Wagener left them with words of encouragement that everything would work out acceptably.6

9.2 Otto von Bismarck 1873

Otto von Bismarck, 1873

The Mennonites were swimming in deep political waters here and it is hard to know if they were being manipulated or taking advantage of the wider currents around them in a fairly sophisticated way. The Crown Prince and Bismarck were political enemies and there is no evidence that Wagener really cared about the Mennonites. So perhaps they were dupes in high-level Prussian intrigues, spying on the Crown Prince for Bismarck without understanding what was going on. On the other hand, they did implement Wagener’s suggest to use the issue of the Mennonite tax to focus a conversation on their problems in the favorable terrain of the House of Lords. They actually went on to pay the tax for another couple of rounds and to create the impression that the government was still considering their case. While never a realistic option, they had with Wagener’s help created media attention about their plight, so perhaps they were savvy political operators who understood that asking for unequal treatment in being let out of the draft meant they were better off supporting monarchists than liberals.7


  1.   This note is referenced in the reply of 29 February from the two ministers to the king, Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin (GStA), Hauptabteilung (HA) I, Rep. 77 (Ministry of the Interior), Tit. 332T (Militärpflicht), no. 5 (Acta betreffend die Mennoniten), vol. 1 ((1819-1868), n.p. 
  2.  Peter Bartel, “Beschreibung der persönliche Bemühung der fünf Aeltesten bei den Hohen und Allerhöchsten Staatsmännern in Berlin um Wiederheraushelfung aus dem Reichsgesetz, worin der Reichstag uns Mennoniten am 9. November 1867 versetzt hat,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalendar 29 (1920), 77. 
  3.  Ibid., 78. 
  4.  Ibid. On oaths, see Mark Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 111-5, 267. 
  5.  Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 78-9. 
  6.  Ibid., 79. 
  7.   Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 198-204. 

Mennonite Elders Meet King William I, February 25, 1868

Mennonites Accept and Contest Military Service in the German East: A Sesquicentennial Series

One-hundred-fifty years ago today was the crucial day in the Mennonite Elders’ visit to Berlin. At 8 a.m. they were informed that they would not be allowed to talk to Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. He was implacably opposed to reopening the issue of their military service exemption and, although the Mennonites did not know it, without his support nothing could change in the law itself via a legislative route. By 1:45 p.m. they were in the palace where they met King William I in the hopes that relief could come from the traditional route of depending on royal mercy and a favorable executive order.

What was happening behind the scenes to lead up to this day is fairly clear now but only as a function of recent research. H. G. Mannhardt, the pastor of the Danzig Mennonite Church from 1878 to 1927, argued later that the Prussian cabinet, which led the initiative on most laws, had met and decided to ignore the Mennonites already on February 20.1 He was right that the key decision was taken by the cabinet and not the king, but wrong on the date as the published records do not record any meeting of the cabinet that day at all. The only two meetings that dealt with Mennonites according to the minutes were December 21, 1869, dealing with a petition to revoke the restrictive Mennonite Edict of 1789, and January 25, 1874, when the Mennonite Law of that year that mostly lifted the 1789 Edict was approved by the cabinet before going to the Prussian Parliament.2

One important event of February 20 was the drafting of a petition by the five elders in Berlin for an audience with the king. They wrote in part, “It seems unfathomable to us that a vote of the Imperial Diet can abrogate the confession of faith of an entire religious community. It seems unfathomable to us that a vote cast against us only because we demonstrated loyalty to the king in recent elections can annul the Charters of Privilege granted by Your Majesty’s ancestors and that we can be expelled from the dear fatherland that had provided us with protection and tolerance up to now. In spite of all the dangers arrayed against our conscience we and our congregations will not let the hope sink that Your Majesty will not abandon us and we beseech Your Majesty in their name to grant us most mercifully an audience so that we can personally lay our requests and wishes at your feet.”3 The fact that these traditionalist Mennonites voted conservative was indeed a reason for liberals in both the Confederation and Prussian Parliaments to reject any special deals for them.4 Around 1 p.m., just as they left the meeting thanking Friedrich Bloemer for his support in the debate of February 22, a messenger found them with a note that the king in response to their petition had granted them an audience at 1:45.

8.1 Theophil von Podbielski

Theophil von Podbielski

The actual behind the scenes cabinet decisions were made by circulating memos to develop a policy that the majority of the cabinet could support. This process came to a head at this time, when on February 21 Acting Minister of War Theophil von Podbielski and Interior Minister Friedrich zu Eulenburg wrote to Bismarck to report an impasse between the War Ministry, which ironically want to see Mennonites exempted, and the Ministry of the Interior, which administered the draft and wanted Mennonites included. Bismarck sided with Eulenburg at some point over the next month, ending the debate in the cabinet.5

8.2 Friedrich zu Eulenburg

Friedrich zu Eulenburg

Our five elders, of course, had no knowledge of these developments and pinned all their hopes on their meeting with the king. They had about forty-five minutes notice, so they hurried back to their hotel to prepare both by changing clothes and spending time in prayer. Once at the palace, they were led by servants through a succession of rooms until an adjutant lined them up in one room. Then he placed both hands on the double doors in the room and stared intently through the gap into the next room. After a long wait, “suddenly he threw both doors open and backed up quickly and the king and the adjutant on duty entered. As fast as lightning the king stood before us and addressed us softly, ‘Children, what can I do for you?’”6
Johann Toews, the elder of the Ladekopp congregation, spoke for the group, introducing them, outlining the problem, and expressing the hope that the king could rescue them from this sorry state of affairs. The king declared that it was his intention to protect everyone’s conscience, since his fathers and he had always respected their confession of faith, “but I cannot violate the law.” Nonetheless he assured them he would find a way forward that would protect their conscience. Toews pressed him, noting that if any type of military service was required of them, they would emigrate and he asked that they be granted an extension of time free from the draft in order to get their affairs in order before they left.7

The king then turned to address each of them personally. When it was his turn, Gerhard Penner, the Heubuden elder, said, “Your Majesty, we will offer everything materially possible in order to preserve our freedom of conscience.” The king replied, “I am not in anyway opposed to you, for you have always been loyal subjects, proving this even in the latest elections, as we have been pleased to note.” The king then asked when Penner had received the medal he was wearing. When told, he noted, “So you got it from me.” Which medal Penner was wearing and why he got it is unknown, but medals were a common way for the state to recognize prominent citizens for services rendered or anniversaries in office.8

Johann Wiebe of Fürstenwerder also had a request for the king. He asked if it would be okay for the Mennonites to petition the Imperial Diet to alter the military service law. The king assured him that everyone has the right to petition the government. Wiebe replied, “We thank you most subserviently for lifting our worry that we would act against Your Majesty’s wishes by petitioning against a law that you have signed.” The king talked to the others, and then asked Peter Bartel at the end if they all lived close together, to which Bartel replied they lived about seventy-five to ninety kilometers apart (ten to twelve Meilen). Then the king got into a brief conversation with Johann Wiebe about where he lived, in Preußisches Königsdorf between Elbing and Marienburg. The king knew the area, so after this exchange of pleasantries, they were dismissed.9

The king’s assertion that he was bound by the law was perhaps the most telling comment. The Prussian constitution was only eighteen years old at this point, that of the North German Confederation, not even one. So the king and these elders certainly remembered a time when his word and their willingness to pay money settled this issue. Now parliaments, public involvement and public opinion, and new-fangled ideas about equality and nationalism limited the king’s ability and desire to protect these Mennonites, who were both loyal subjects and political allies who voted the way the king wanted. Tomorrow the elders would talk to his son, Crown Prince Frederick, in an effort to assure this newly limited royal favor continued into the future in case they would have one in Germany.


  1. H. G. Mannhardt, “Zur Entstehung und Geschichte der königl. Kabinettsordre von 3. März 1868, betreffend den Herresdienst der Mennoniten,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalender 28 (1919), 102. 
  2., 99, 165-6, 342-3. For context and details, see Mark Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 200-212, 269. 
  3.  Geheimer Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (GStA), Berlin, Hauptabteilung (HA) I, Rep. 77 (Ministry of the Interior), Tit. 31 (Mennonitensachen), no. 2 (Die in Ansehung der staatsbürgerlichen Verhältnisse der Mennoniten vorgenommen Anordnugnen, desgl. wegen Behandlung der Mennoniten-Gemeinde in Danzig nach der Reoccupation dieser Stadt), vol. 9 ( Juli 1862 – Dez. 1869), 188.  
  4. Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 210, 303n79. 
  5. Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 199-200. 
  6. Peter Bartel, “Beschreibung der persönliche Bemühung der fünf Aeltesten bei den Hohen und Allerhöchsten Staatsmännern in Berlin um Wiederheraushelfung aus dem Reichsgesetz, worin der Reichstag uns Mennoniten am 9. November 1867 versetzt hat,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalendar 29 (1920), 75-6. 
  7. Ibid., 76-7. 
  8.  Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 189-90. 
  9.  Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 77. 

Mennonite Elders Meet Justice Minister Leonhardt While Ultra-Conservative Lords Use Mennonites as a Wedge Issue to Stage a Rebellion Against Bismarck, February 22, 1868

Mennonites Accept and Contest Military Service in the German East: A Sesquicentennial Series

Saturdays are not what they used to be. One-hundred-fifty years ago today the Prussian government was experiencing just another work day and the Mennonite Elders seeking to regain their exemption from military service were continuing their rounds of cabinet ministers. The House of Lords of the Prussian Parliament was also in session, although they finished shortly before 1 p.m.

Prussian politics had faced a crucial turning point earlier that week. The House of Lords, more conservative and traditional than the lower house, had nonetheless approved Chancellor Bismarck’s proposal to use money from the central treasury to fund certain expenditures of the new Prussian province of Hannover, which had until a little over a year ago been an independent kingdom. The setting aside of the dynasty there was seen as a revolutionary act by an otherwise reactionary chancellor and also intervened in the traditional budgeting measures of Prussian provinces. Most in the Conservative Party backed this measure, but others were vehemently opposed so that this vote taken just a few days earlier marked the beginning of the National Liberal Party that split off from the Conservative Party. Thus Mennonites’ exemption became a proxy in this conservative civil war.1

The official business conducted by the five Mennonite Elders on this day occupies only a few lines of Peter Bartel’s report. They met with Justice Minister Adolf Leonhardt, who was from Hannover and thus not likely to know much about Mennonites. Bartel reported that he appeared empathetic but that he claimed, correctly, this issue was one for the Ministries of War and the Interior to sort out.2 Oddly no other activities are reported for the day by Bartel, not even a church service. Since the main reason for their trip was to see how their petition to the House of Lords would play out, it seems likely they attended that debate, which was at the end of the session, and for whatever reason, Bartel did not report it. They did make the rounds to visit and thank supporters in the House of Lords before they left Berlin, so at least they were clearly well informed of who said what today.3

Mennonites were on the docket on account of this petition that the elders had sent in: “The House of Lords should prevent the implementation of the military service law passed by the Imperial Diet which, if it came into effect, would pronounce a sentence of expulsion from the country over all true believing Mennonites, and should also provide in the future for the protection of Mennonites’ freedom on conscience by upholding their military service exemption.” The standing committee for dealing with petitions had worked up a recommendation to support this petition and ask the government to consider implementing it. The debate involved about a dozen speakers.

The debate was opened by the chair of the petition committee, von Brünneck. He noted that universal military service had been the law of the land since 1814 and Mennonites had been exempted all that time. He claimed it was unthinkable that nineteenth-century Prussia should be as religious intolerant as the France of Louis XIV that had driven out the Huguenots. Indeed, he claimed, “religious freedom and freedom on conscience is the milk on which the Prussian state was raised.” Without it Prussia was not Prussia anymore. Mennonites moreover had offered to care for wounded soldiers at their own expense. For all these reasons, the committee was unanimous in its support of their petition.4

Most of the support for the Mennonites came from ultra conservatives who were angry at Bismarck for breaking monarchical tradition by annexing other kingdoms to Prussia and subsuming Prussia under the weight of a new imperial government that circumvented nobles. Adolf Senfft von Pilsach, who had also spoken for Mennonites the day before, mocked the idea that Mennonite soldiers were indispensable to the state, noting only 140 Mennonites per year would be drafted. “If Prussia cannot survive without them (and it has fought wars with honor for so long without Mennonites), then I have to confess we might as well give up all hope.”5

7.1 Hans v_Kleist-Retzow_1862

Hans von Kleist-Retzow

Hans von Kleist-Retzow was one of the top ultra-conservatives. As a Pietist he would have been more open to Mennonites’ religious pleading than most other politicians. Bismarck was married to his niece and they had roomed together as young men. Nonetheless, he was ready to challenge the position of Bismarck’s government by giving full-throated support to this petition. He was especially upset that the new-fangled North German Confederation was able to dictate to Prussia how to do things, in American terms he was backing state rights over a new federal government.6

Additional support came from two less-well-known speakers, Friedrich Bloemer and Ludwig von Rittberg. Bloemer stressed the legal rights of the Mennonites. When others said it was pointless to take up an argument that had been decided elsewhere, he countered that if the Mennonites had the right to uphold their privilege, which he thought they did, that right should trump worries about practicalities.7 Here one can see the echo of conservative disquiet with Bismarck’s trampling of the rights of the non-Prussian ruling families he had deposed.

A cabinet minister gave the first speech in opposition to the petition, signaling the uphill struggle Mennonites faced to obtain relief by visiting this group of politicians. Minister of Commerce Heinrich Friedrich von Itzenplitz was the first to note that the military service law was a confederation law and none of Prussia’s business.8 When the elders finally got to meet him three days later, Bartel reported he was quite “cold” to their problems.9

7.2 Otto von Camphausen

Otto von Camphausen

Liberal politicians and their knowledge of liberal Mennonites were the other main source of opposition to this petition. Heinrich Ondereyck from Crefeld noted that Mennonites there were happy to serve.10 Otto von Camphausen, who would become the Finance Minister the next year and was part of a famous liberal political family, backed the need for a strong central government over the stodgy rights of traditional states.11 Count Botho zu Eulenburg was exasperated by the idea that not serving in the military could be protected by law. Thus the issue was not a matter of tolerance, but of what deserves to be privileged. “Imagine, gentlemen,” he argued, “a religious society that had a stance against paying taxes to the state.” That privilege could not stand. On the matter of military service, “the entirety of developmental history of nations and states argues against” such privilege, even if it is painful for those who now fall under the necessity of state duty. The progress of equality was for Eulenburg inevitable and he therefore made a motion that the petition be passed on to the government for its information, not consideration, the difference between the House of Lords asking the government to address or ignore the issue.12

At the end of the session, Eulenburg’s amendment was defeated and a majority voted with the petition committee to defy the wishes of the government and ask that Mennonites’ military exemption be restored.13 Mennonite supporters carried the day in the interests of freedom of conscience, preserving this traditional community instead of forcing them to emigrate, and, above all, to signal for the first time that some conservatives would break with the royal government, an unheard of, if toothless, reproach to Bismarck on the relatively safe Mennonite issue.


  1.  Mark Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 198. 
  2.  Peter Bartel, “Beschreibung der persönliche Bemühung der fünf Aeltesten bei den Hohen und Allerhöchsten Staatsmännern in Berlin um Wiederheraushelfung aus dem Reichsgesetz, worin der Reichstag uns Mennoniten am 9. November 1867 versetzt hat,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalendar 29 (1920), 74. 
  3. Ibid., 74-5. 
  4.  Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 22. Februar 1868, 222. 
  5.  Ibid., 223. 
  6.  On Hans von Kleist-Retzow, see Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 22. Februar 1868, 223, 234. 
  7.  Ibid., 225. 
  8. Ibid., 223. 
  9. Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 75. 
  10.  Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 22. Februar 1868, 224. 
  11.  Ibid. On Camphausen, see 
  12.  Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 22. Februar 1868, 224-5. On Eulenberg, see 
  13. Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 22. Februar 1868, 226-7. 

Billy Graham’s almost agreement with nonresistance

Author’s note: This post originally appeared on the blog of the Brethren in Christ Historical Society and was reposted on the Mennonite World Review World Together blog in 2014. This version is adapted from those two original postings, and presented here in recognition of Billy Graham’s death.

An important but little-known event in American Anabaptist history occurred on August 30, 1961, when Mennonite and Brethren in Christ church leaders sat down around the breakfast table with Billy Graham to tell him about their peace position.

Today, Graham is remembered as an evangelist, a presidential pastor, and an influential icon of American evangelicalism. But for Anabaptists in the mid-twentieth century, Graham was also a potential convert to the doctrine of nonresistance.

Black and white photo of four men sitting around a table with food on it.

In this photo from the Oct. 21, 1961 issue of the Evangelical Visitor, Billy Graham (third from left) meets with representatives of the Mennonite church.

Those familiar with Mennonite history will recognize some of the denominational leaders who participated in the event, including John C. Wenger and Elmer Neufeld. Bishop, Mennonite Central Committee chairman, and Messiah College president C. N. Hostetter Jr., represented the Brethren in Christ. As Hostetter’s biographer E. Morris Sider records:

Hostetter was consistently impressed with Graham. He heard Graham speak frequently at NAE [National Association of Evangelicals] conventions; he invariably labelled Graham’s sermons with such adjectives as “powerful” or “impressive.” [^1]

No doubt others in the group had been similarly impressed by Graham’s style and presence—and no doubt they were aware of his celebrity among most of America’s Christians in the 1960s. Likely it was this combination of professionalism and popularity that led these Anabaptists into dialogue with “America’s preacher.” If they could convince Graham of the gospel message of peace, perhaps he could proclaim that message far beyond the bounds of American Anabaptism.

The Oct. 21, 1961 issue of the Brethren in Christ publication, the Evangelical Visitor, gives further details on the conversation:

The purpose of the meeting was to engage in a personal conversation with Dr. Graham concerning the New Testament ethic of love and nonresistance and also to hear from Dr. Graham a word which might encourage and stimulate our churches to become more evangelistic. . . .

In response to the presentation, Dr. Graham replied that he appreciated deeply the privilege of listening to the testimony of other Christians. . . . He commented briefly on the problems involved in taking the nonresistant position, but noted the uncertainty and confusion among Christians regarding the proper attitude toward participation in war. He stated his personal openness and interested in meeting for more extended discussion on the doctrine of nonresistance. [^2]

This event matters beyond American Anabaptist historiography. The historian Molly Worthen, author of the groundbreaking Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism, highlights the meeting as an example of the fragmentation of evangelicalism in the twentieth century.

In a post at the Christian Century blog, Worthen argues that the popularity of Billy Graham among conservative Protestants in the 1950s and 1960s projected a public image of evangelicalism as unified across denominational lines and cooperative despite varying theological emphases. The reality, Worthen concludes, was much more complex. Numerous groups — Pentecostals, Southern Baptists and Mennonites and Brethren in Christ among them — admired Graham for his popularity and conversionist message, but felt that aligning themselves with the so-called “evangelical coalition” represented by the National Association of Evangelicals might compromise their denominational authority.

Worthen highlights the Graham dialogue as an example of this complex interplay between particular denominations and the larger evangelical ecumenical movement:

After a detailed presentation of Anabaptist beliefs—particularly nonviolence—the Mennonites asked for Graham’s advice. How did evangelical leaders view Mennonites’ pacifism? How might they improve their evangelistic outreach?

Graham was gracious. This wasn’t the first time he had heard of Christian nonviolence; civil rights activists had been living and preaching it for years. Graham told the group that he “could easily be one of us in about 99% of what has been said,” the secretary recorded. He expressed willingness to discuss the doctrine of nonviolence in the future, but warned of the “historical danger of a denomination putting undue emphasis and overweighting ourselves on one particular point.

Afterwards the Mennonites felt hopeful. Graham was “open to be led and to be taught,” and they planned to pursue more contact with evangelical leaders. Yet Graham was wary of appearing too easygoing in his theology. He insisted that no press release quote him directly.

In exchanges with neo-evangelicals, the Mennonites—like all good diplomats—continually revised their approach. They stressed common ground but grew more confident in their distinctive doctrines.

Years later, when a new generation of young evangelicals grew disillusioned with the Christian right and went looking for alternative models of discipleship, the Mennonites were ready. John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus—a closely argued defense of Christian nonviolence—enjoyed a long life beyond its 1972 publication. In 1976, ethicist Stephen Charles Mott called it “the most widely read political book in young evangelical circles in the United States.”

Interestingly, Worthen’s conclusions about Evangelical complexity echo my own research and writing about the ways in which the Brethren in Christ reacted to the rise of post-World War II evangelicalism — the kind of evangelicalism, at least, represented by Graham, the National Association of Evangelicals, Christianity Today, and Fuller Theological Seminary. As I’ve argued elsewhere, the Brethren in Christ really responded not just by joining the NAE — and thereby embracing the claims of the post-war Evangelical movement — but also by resisting identification with this broad contingent of Protestants, and even, in some cases, seeking to reform these fellow Christians.

Certainly the Mennonites’ and Brethren in Christ’s attempt to “convert” Graham to a peace position reflects one effort to reform evangelicalism.

Mennonite Elders Meet Acting Minister of War Podbielski While the House of Lords Debates Their Special Tax, February 21, 1868

Mennonites Accept and Contest Military Service in the German East: A Sesquicentennial Series

Although Mennonites would be the subject of two different debates in the Prussian House of Lords during the Elders’ stay in Berlin, they concentrated on meeting cabinet ministers, the crown prince, and the king instead of lobbying members of Parliament. Accordingly, on this day one hundred and fifty years ago, they met with three cabinet members while conservatives in the House of Lords were arguing for reinstating their exemption as a way to pursue pro-monarchist political goals.

They first met at 9 a.m. with Heinrich von Mühler, Minister of Culture, whose agency had oversight of education and the churches. Their conversation was apparently short, with Peter Bartel reporting only that they heard the same story from him, that they were unlikely to escape the clutches of the military service law.1 The minister had dealt with Mennonite matters before, so their concerns were not new to him, but he stood more with the nationalists than with the monarchists who were Mennonites’ best allies.2

6.1 August_von_der_Heydt_(1801–1874)

August von der Heydt (1801–1874)

By 10 a.m. they were in the offices of the Minister of Finance, August von der Heydt. Bartel noted frankly that “he was very solidly against us.” He saw no way around Mennonites adjusting their scruples to accept military service. He tried to comfort them with the story of his own mother, who had her own scruples against sending her sons to the military. She had even gone to see the king to ask that they be exempted, but to no avail. With time she got over her reservations and he hoped the Mennonites would as well. He was from a Reformed family and had attended a Moravian Brethren high school in Neuwied, a city with a prominent Mennonite congregation, so he likely also knew about the group before meeting them. Nonetheless, as a staunch liberal, equality before the law would have been his guiding principle.3

6.2 Eugen_anton_theophil_von_podbielski

Eugen Anton Theophil von Podbielski

The next meeting at 11 a.m. took them to the offices of Acting Minister of War Theophil von Podbielski. Albrecht von Roon, the minister of war who had engaged Mennonites in a lengthy theological discussion during their visit in October, was on an extended leave due to illness. The Acting Minister assured them he had been informed about their case. He said arrangements would be made to take care of them and that he thought they would find the solution acceptable. He added that Prussian Mennonites “would not have faced such serious challenges if we would have been united in living out our faith instead of being splintered apart by so many internal divisions.” He mentioned that it was particularly difficult for the Mennonites’ case that several petitions from “our people (or nation)” (Volk) had arrived “asking that we be subjected to the draft.”4

The use of the word Volk here, meaning both people and nation, by the Acting Minister of War to describe Mennonites was not uncommon either for officials or for Mennonites themselves.  The lines between peoples and nations were not drawn as tightly at this point in multi-ethnic Prussia as they would be later. Yet the term does suggest the ambiguity that both Mennonites and officials felt in this encounter over whether Mennonites were willing to give their highest allegiance to Germany, or to put it differently, which “people” were really their “people.”

The petitions from Mennonites asking to be drafted that von Podbielski referred to could have included the one dated May 30, 1867, from Mennonite Pastor Carl Harder in Neuwied, mentioned in the first two posts in this series. In addition, already on April 11, 1867, the church council of the Mennonite congregation in Emden had petitioned that they be allowed to fulfill all the duties and enjoy all the rights of other Prussian citizens.5 Emden was part of the Kingdom of Hanover, which had been annexed to Prussia in 1866, and the Mennonites there strongly preferred military service to facing extra taxes or restrictions on buying real estate. On August 7, 1866, a number of landowners from the Vistula Delta, apparently both Mennonites and non-Mennonites, made a similar appeal to the House of Lords, which rejected their petition at that time.6 One can perhaps sympathize with officials who, when presented with conflicting demands from Mennonites, decided not to take them too seriously.

On this day there was also a lively debate in the House of Lords over accepting the proposed budget for the kingdom. One of the sticking points was striking the communal tax Mennonites had paid for their military exemption from the income side. One of the Mennonites’ most fervent supporters in this debate was Adolf Senfft von Pilsach, who was well-connected to the royal family and also had talked with the elders.7 Peter Bartel did not record meeting him until later in their trip, raising the question of how complete his account is.8

Senfft-Pilsach in any case started his lengthy intervention on behalf of the Mennonites with recounting an anecdote from his conversation with them. “When their delegation visited me in order to impress the seriousness of the matter on my heart, all of them peasants, one of them asked me, ‘Do you really think that our King and Lord no longer has the power to uphold the Charter of Privileges that his forefathers granted us?’” Senfft-Pilsach went on to cast the matter as a serious issue of conscience best left to the king. He also reported that he had asked if they would not be willing to serve as non-combatants. The reply was that once the Charter was violated, their position would depend on the whimsy of the Minister of War at the time, not law. The Mennonites concluded that “if the power of the state is so great that it can ignore a legally binding Charter, it will not hesitate to step over this much lower barrier as well.”9 Events soon proved these traditionalist peasants to be astute observers of nationalist politics.

Finance Minister von der Heydt, who had just spoken to the Mennonites that morning, was the main speaker in favor of revoking the Mennonite tax. In his comments he also gave his own, quite different, account of their meeting. He opened by noting that he had assured the Mennonites that ending the payment of the tax would not prejudice the final decision on whether their Charter was still valid, but since they were not exempted from the military any longer, he thought it would be an injustice for them to continue paying it. “I did, however, tell them that if they feel bound by conscience to pay the tax, I would be willing to accept it.” This comment provoked laughter from the lords.

Von der Heydt hastened to add that he thought the matter serious and had only hoped to be accommodating. He said he had told them paying the tax now was an injustice, but if they wanted to pay it voluntarily, he would ask for royal permission to do so. He concluded that he did not want to get anywhere close to supporting the Mennonites’ wishes and that the tax should be revoked.10 At the end of the session, the budget of 159,757,064 Thaler without the Mennonite tax of 5, 600 Thaler was accepted by a wide margin.11 Mennonites had lost this symbolic battle, but a specific petition to reinstate their exemption would be debated the next day while the elders visited Justice Minister Adolf Leonhardt.

6.3 Book Illustration based on photo by Wangemann

Book Illustration based on photo by Wangemann

The spiritual component of this day was listening to Berlin Mission Society Director Hermann Wangemann preach in the Andreas Church on the natives of Africa (Kaffern).12 The church was on Andreas Street near what is now the East Train Station, but was destroyed by Allied bombs in World War II and the ruins were removed by the Communist government of East Germany. Most of these Elders would have been active supporters of the Danzig Mission Society, a related organization, explaining their interest in this particular church service.


  1. Peter Bartel, “Beschreibung der persönliche Bemühung der fünf Aeltesten bei den Hohen und Allerhöchsten Staatsmännern in Berlin um Wiederheraushelfung aus dem Reichsgesetz, worin der Reichstag uns Mennoniten am 9. November 1867 versetzt hat,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalendar 29 (1920), 74. 
  2. On Mühler’s earlier interactions with Mennonites, see Mark Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 157, 166. 
  3. Bartel, “Beschreibung, 74, 
  4. Bartel, “Beschreibung, 74. 
  5. Geheimer Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (GStA), Berlin, Hauptabteilung (HA) I, Rep. 77 (Ministry of the Interior), Tit. 332t (Militärpflicht), no. 5 (Die Militärpflicht der Mennoniten), vol. 1 (1819-1868), n.p. 
  6. GStA, HA I, Rep. 77, Tit. 31 (Mennonitensachen), no. 2 (Die in Ansehung der staatsbürgerlichen Verhältnisse der Mennoniten vorgenommen Anordnugnen, desgl. wegen Behandlung der Mennoniten-Gemeinde in Danzig nach der Reoccupation dieser Stadt), vol. 9 (1862 Juli – 1869 Dez.), 226-228. 
  7. The connection ran through his more famous brother, 
  8. Bartel records a meeting at 10 am on February 24 to thank Senfft-Pilsach for his efforts, “Beschreibung,” 74-5. 
  9. Stenographische Berichte des Herrenhauses, Vierzehnte Sitzung am 21. Februar 1868, 207-8. 
  10. Ibid., 208-9 
  11. Ibid., 212. 
  12. Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 79. 

Mennonite Elders Meet with Minister of Interior Count Friedrich zu Eulenburg, Head of the Ministry That Administers the Draft, February 20, 1868

Mennonites Accept and Contest Military Service in the German East: A Sesquicentennial Series

With the passage of the military service law in the North German Confederation and its signing on November 9, most government officials and more than a few Mennonites considered the issue of the draft settled. In the interests of equality before the law, Mennonites would have to serve. However, a large portion of the Mennonite leadership and a majority of Mennonites at this point were not ready to give up. After unleashing a flurry of petitions to various government officials that largely went unanswered, the votes in both houses of the Prussian parliament in February 1868 to revoke the collective tax that Mennonites had paid since 1773 served as a platform for politicians who supported Mennonites and Mennonite leaders to continue to make their case for restoring their exemption. Since democracy had stripped Mennonites of their exemption as bestowed by kings, they took their case to the king and his ministers and to conservative politicians, but not to the court of public opinion, which was decisively set against them.1

Already on Thursday, February 13, the lower house of the Prussian parliament debated the government’s proposed budget that eliminated the Mennonite tax. Wilhelm von Brauchitsch represented the heavily Mennonite district of Elbing both in the Prussian parliament and the North German Confederation. He quoted the 1780 Mennonite Charter of Privilege at length and asked that this privilege be respected. Carl Twesten, a member of the National Liberal Party, countered that federal law trumped Prussian law and that the matter was already settled. Other representatives debated the merits of making compromises for solid citizens who might otherwise emigrate and noted that Mennonites were internally divided on the issue, since Mennonite requests had reached the house asking for military service to be imposed. The house voted to remove the tax on Mennonites in recognition of their service now. Since the debate would next be taken up in the House of Lords, von Brauchitsch wired the Mennonite leadership that they should come to Berlin to seek to influence official policy at this crucial juncture.2

The same five Elders who had been Berlin in October 1867 returned now, Gerhard Penner, Heubuden, Johann Toews, Ladekopp, Johann Wiebe, Fürstenwerder, Peter Bartel, Gruppe, and Johann Penner, Thiensdorf. They arrived in Berlin on February 18 and spend most of the next day trying to set up meetings with various ministers. The key meeting was with Hermann Wagener, a confidant of Bismarck’s who encouraged them to pay the collective tax no matter what and then sue the government for violation of their legal privilege. The morning of February 20 was likewise spent lining up additional meetings for subsequent days.3

Their efforts to meet powerful officials paid its first dividend on Thursday, February 20, at 2 pm when they met with Count Friedrich zu Eulenburg, the Minister of the Interior. In the Prussian government it was this agency that oversaw the draft. Right up front he told them that there was no chance of changing their draft status. Peter Bartel saw him as sympathetic since he did not want to see them emigrate and promised to work at getting them an audience with the king. Zu Eulenburg also reported that he had written Albrecht von Roon, Minister of War, asking if noncombatant medic status might be possible. Even that was more than the law currently allowed and would be a good deal for Mennonites in zu Eulenberg’s view.4

Peter Bartel’s account of sympathy from the Interior Minister does not reflect zu Eulenburg’s actual position, leaving us to wonder if Bartel was deliberately misled or simply grasping at straws in any half-way positive remark the minister made. Behind the scenes zu Eulenburg was one of the least flexible cabinet ministers, pushing hard in a memorandum to the Ministry of War for not allowing any exemption beyond noncombatant service for Mennonites at a time when von Roon seemed to agree with the Mennonites that their Charter of Privilege was inviolable. The more conservative von Roon was happy to uphold royal privilege and support the Mennonites while the less conservative zu Eulenburg favored equality before the law although he made exceptions to the draft for other, better-connected people than Mennonites.5

Perhaps the most important meeting of the day for the Mennonites was the one they failed to organize. At 4 p.m. they tried to get an audience with Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who von Brauchitsch had suggested was against their cause. Their meeting with Bismarck’s friend Hermann Wagener had given them more hope, but they could not get in to see the great man. Here again it is not clear why Bartel seemed to harbor false hopes. The report from their own representative had been accurate, Bismarck was opposed to Mennonites’ exemption, dooming their project from the start unless the king could be brought to take on his own chancellor.6

All in all, a discouraging day. Perhaps the five Mennonite farmers wandering the halls of power took consolation in the sermon they heard at a chapel service in the Moravian Brethren church that day, a Pietist denomination with which most of these five would have felt an affinity. Perhaps they, like us, pondered how to keep the faith in a world bent on preparing for war. The next day would bring a meeting with the Acting Minister of War and another raucous debate on Mennonites in a Prussian parliament, this time in the House of Lords.7


  1. For a general overview, see Mark Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 26-33, 191-218. 
  2.   The debates are from the Stenographische Berichte, February, 13, 1868, 1580-3. On Mennonite divisions see The summons from von Brauchitsch is in Peter Bartel, “Beschreibung der persönliche Bemühung der fünf Aeltesten bei den Hohen und Allerhöchsten Staatsmännern in Berlin um Wiederheraushelfung aus dem Reichsgesetz, worin der Reichstag uns Mennoniten am 9. November 1867 versetzt hat,” Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalendar 29 (1920), 72. 
  3.   Ibid., 72-3. 
  4.   Ibid., 73-4. 
  5.   Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 199-200, 212-7. 
  6.   Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 72-74, Jantzen, Mennonite German Soldiers, 200. 
  7.   Bartel, “Beschreibung,” 79.