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Mission in Indien
Dänisch-Hallesche Mission
Leipziger Missionare 1
Leipziger Missionare 2
Breklumer Missionare
Erster Weltkrieg 1
Erster Weltkrieg 2
Erster Weltkrieg 3
Erster Weltkrieg 4
Erster Weltkrieg 5
Zweiter Weltkrieg 1
Zweiter Weltkrieg 2
Germans in British India
Dehra Dun
Escape from Internment
Flucht aus Dehra Dun
Ludwig Schmaderer
Internierte in Satara
Post-War Interment
Hermann Selzer
Rolf Benkert
Gerhard Buelle
Helmuth Borutta
Jürgen Kulp
Rudolf Tauscher
Jürgen-Heine Meyer
Hinrich Speck
Rolf Benkert

German Missions in British India
Nationalism: Case and Crisis in Missions

Paul von Tucher 


© 1980 Selbstverlag Paul H. von Tucher



Links zu den Merkblättern über die Lage der Deutschen in Britisch-Indien

Weitere Links

"Here at the edge of the crowded world, as at
the rim of the jungle, His Majesty of Britain
permitted the establishing of a small town
of camps surrounded by barbed wire for
civil prisoners of the Second World War.
The City of Despair "Stadt der Verzweiflung"
an unpleasant, compulsory residence."
Rolf Magener, Die Chance War Null, p. 5



Lager Dehra Dun 1941
0,5 MB

For over five years, from October, 1941 through November, 1946, the Central Internment Camp for British India was located at Premnagar, near Dehra Dun, in the United Provinces. It was the first major camp which had not been associated to or converted from a cantonment, e.g. Ahmadnagar, Deolali, St. Thomas Mount, etc. To the northwest of Dehra Dun there were several small cantonments, or barracks called "Lines,"1 three at least for the special Gurkha troops, who would primarily be the guards for the detention settlement. This internment camp offered a concrete dimension, in that it was constructed to accommodate the foreign civil prisoners of war in India and from other 2 parts of Asia.2

The location of the "small town of camps"3 at Premnagar was likely selected for military and climatic reasons;

In north Hindustan, at the foot of the highest mountains of the world, lies Dehra Dun, not far from the mountain kingdom of Nepal. The city extends itself against the gradually protracted, splendidly contoured chain of (the Swalik) foot-hills. Like a stone curtain the foot-hills conceal the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas.4

The 'representative group' of the internees, under Oswald Urchs's leadership, in August had been impressed by the attractive environment with the backdrop of the mountains.5 The camp itself, with its thatched roofs, seemed acceptable, and the location, in contrast to Deolali, was a great improvement. There was one unquestionable feature to the central internment camp, namely, "there were only permanent huts."6 This implied that for those entering the Premnagar Camp, it was the final station in the prolonged internment period of World War II.

The first impressions which this detention settlement had upon the internees seem overwhelming. One German wrote home: "Es sieht fast aus wie ein niedersächisches Dorf."7 - others remembered the camp as a "village in Friesland,"8 - part of the State of Lower Saxony. Christian Lohse (Breklum) noted: "This was a straw-roofed camp, and I must say, it was very reasonable. The area was not so large as in Deolali (II) and Ahmadnagar, but it was quite bearable."9 One internee mentioned, that

... when we came there, we converted one barrack into a canteen ... (and) called it: "Der Falsche Friese" (the False Frise), because it was everything else but a Friesendorf, excepting that there was straw on the roofs of the buildings.10

The canteen of the German wing carried the name and some of the atmosphere of a Friesendorf; scenes of Germany were painted on the walls, and beer was available.11

Thus, at the foot of the Himalaya mountains,

Under the tropical sun, between tea gardens and bush, row upon row of flat-reed, thatched-roof barracks were laid out on a former arable field. The straw roofs reach deep down to the ground and leave a cave-like semi-darkness around the buildings. Only isolated trees tower upwards; carrion birds looking for garbage sit in the branches. Otherwise one sees shrubs, allotment gardens, runs (as for animals), long rows of latrines. There are neither women nor children there, but otherwise a colourful population thrown together; for next to the Germans live the Italians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Finns; and together here they idle their time away. The Germans, from all the countries between Iraq and Hongkong, were by far the largest majority.12

The Premnagar Internment Camp

... was divided into sections or 'Wings' (Flügel), of which there were a total of seven. These Wings were separated by high, doubled barbed-wire fences which formed gangways (aisles) in the style of the outer, surrounding fences.13

"The Germans of the Reich, those who had been resi dents in British India, were quartered in Wing 1."14 Of course the internees termed it the "Campus Teutonicus", while to either side there were the "Campus Italicus" and the "Campus Judaicus".15 The latter only signified how many German Jewish men still were interned. "In Wing 3 there were about 270 older and sick internees."16 There was one wing for the Indian political prisoners, and in another one there were the Germans from the Dutch East Indies.17 And then there was one wing which was called "the Vatican City, ...  so-called because the Italian priests were held there as prisoners."18  In general there were about 500 internees to a wing; thus besides the necessary functional buildings, there were "approximately 14 barracks, each occupied by about 40 men."19 Johannes Klimkeit remembered: "We were thirty people in the barrack, ... a mixed group."20 

Internierung im Zweiten Weltkrieg in IndienThe picture of the Friesendorf or the Campus Teutonicus painted by the internees is totally coloured by the length of the stay. In October, 1941, at the Premnagar settlement, Wing 1, eleven Protestant missionaries continued their internment in north India. Among them were the four Breklum men - Hübner, Ahrens, Lohse and Speck; the four Gossner men - Borutta, Jellinghaus, Klimkeit and Wolff; the two Leipzig men Röver and Tiedt; and the Independent from Burma - Dworschak. A year later, September, 1942, Bräsen of the Breklum Mission, and some weeks later Fritz Mack of the Basel Mission also arrived at Dehra Dun, making for 13 German brethren again under first degree detention. For the first above-mentioned eight missionaries, their stay was "quite bearable",21  since it was overshadowed by the happy reunions with their wives and families at the Purandhar camp. Their stay had been approximately 14 to 15 months. For the others the Dehra Dun internment remains a tormenting experience in the "city of despair,"22 gauged by the barbed wire and the concentrated nature of the wing within the camp. Lives were affected adversely in the ever-extended months and years at Dehra Dun.

Premnagar had its advantages and disadvantages also. All year round, "the nights offered a fantastic, beautiful sight as the lights of Mussoorie spread over a large area along the mountain range."23 The winter provided a majestic view of the snow-capped mountains, and the cooler seasons were invigorating. However, in the basin-like valley before the mountains, the hot season of March through June was a marked contrast. An internee wrote on May 28th, 1942:

God be praised that I am still healthy and spared from the acute consequences of this terrible heat, and from which we all seem more or less exhausted. But apparently we have now reached the climax with the 46º C. (115º F.) in the shade and the rainy season is not far ahead.24

Another German described the summer season as following:

In the barracks it was hot as a haybox. The doors and the windows were closed firmly for the day, so that no new heat would penetrate from outside. In the semi-darkness of the long room the sweating bodies of companions stand out, as they sit at the small hand-made tables or lie around on the plank-beds.25

The limitation of space in the separate barracks meant that "one could not make a single move in the camp without being watched by countless eyes."26 The "only place where one could discuss matters without being overheard" was on the sports field.27 'What to do and how to do something under the limitations, was nearly everyone's business. A natural, attractive occupation of any prisoner-of-war camp, as at Premnagar, was the business of planning an escape from the 'city of despair'. At various stages there were different groups among the 1.500 Germans finally assembled there.28 The most celebrated fellow-internees at Dehra Dun, through their escapes and reputations in the post-war years, were Heinrich Harrer, Rolf Magener, as well as Peter Aufschnaiter, Heins von Have and others who managed the exemplary escape of April 29th, 1944.29 The Protestant missionaries were not involved in any of the escape plans or ventures.

There were adequate opportunities granted the internees in the training and the preparing for escapes from the camp. Upon the commandant's permission "sufficient freedom"30 for outings or hikes during the day was given the internee. Others, like Heinrich Harrer, found that "the outings certainly served also as a research study of the area around the camp."31 Johannes Klimkeit described what had already begun at Ahmadnagar as the practice of outings:

The first regulation, when we started to go out on excursions, was that the commandant ... to begin with sent British soldiers along with us. He gave the orders that the soldiers were always to keep their prisoners, or their internees, in sight. This meant that we did not have to care whether they came along or not. They had to come along.

We had good food in the camp and we were not tired. And these poor English fellows with their guns had to run after us, ... to keep an eye on their internees. There were Harrer, Aufschnaiter, Schmaderer and Magener, ... they could run over the hills. They were mountaineers.

And when we returned the first day from the outing, these soldiers went to Colonel Williams and informed him: "This is impossible. These Germans have good legs; they don't get tired. They hike like anything and we have to keep them in our sight.32

Freedom for taking such excursions could only be granted by the commandant; yet the greater part of the month-upon-month schedule, the internee remained behind barbed wire, confined to the barracks, the sports field, the runs and "Der Falsche Friese."


The German community of Premnagar was no ordinary fraternity of individuals. Most of these men had an adventuresome spirit and an optimistic outlook on life and the world, whether they represented the field of Christian Missions and the Church - Evangelical Lutheran, Roman Catholic or otherwise, or whether they were in the field of business, research, travel or even refugees from the Nazi tyranny. The Dehra Dun camp offered an assemblage of numerous doctors of theology, philosophy, medicine, dentistry, engineering, etc., a roster from all branches of life and with all levels of education and degrees. Many of these German men were in their training years or labouring in a foreign land for what would likely lead them later into higher positions and responsibilities at home.33 In fact, many of them had managed through their foreign service to leave behind them the monotonous uniformity and the ideological bigotry of the Nazi totalitarian state. They were not able to disassociate themselves from their 'Vaterland', or even the patriotic and aggressive dreams of the Third Reich, and they were not wiling to take up the 'anti-Nazi' banner. Many of these German internees were young men with visions and hopes, and drawn to British India as a land of many possibilities. Though in good health and in good spirit, the camp life restricted them for over a seven-year period.

As in any penal institution, one has little choice but to make the most of his options. Due to the variety of professions, talents and interests, many possibilities were made available. There were the chores to be done and the duties to be carried out, as in the previous camps. In the encounter with men and professions of all branches of life, the opportunity for learning was immense. At Dehra Dun, for example, Hans Röver (Leipzig Mission) "served in the camp as an assistant to the camp dentist."34

Physical exercise and sports played a dominant role in the daily routine of the Wing.35 The camp sport field was one spot where one came in contact with one's neighbour, for reasons of competitive games, but also a place to discuss private matters.36 Here one could excel, join in or even observe the sports events. According to one internee, it seems a Roman Catholic Brother Calixtus was a "most popular person through his sports and through his personal contact with people."37

The Christian missionaries, Protestant and Roman Catholic, had an excellent opportunity to have "contact in many fields during this time,"38 including other clergymen and theologians. The Roman Catholic clergy and missionaries, alone through their overwhelming number in comparison, cast a great influence on the camp internees. A non-Roman businessman offered his recollections:

The Catholic priests were very much more open-minded. ... They were very social. ... They were much closer to the people in all connections; let us say in playing sports with us or in maintaining a tent where you could have some evening refreshments in the nature of two fried eggs, or a glass ... of something. It was run by the priests. ...39

Such impressions and recollections are coloured by the passage of time, when the months turned into years and the acquaintances became friendships.

Excellent study courses and contacts developed between the Evangelical Lutheran and the Roman Catholic clergy, a contrast to the rivalry and mistrust of each other's missions endeavours and the winning of the other's 'sheep' in the pre-ecumenical period. Friedrich Hübner (Breklum), reflecting on the war years, candidly admitted:

... These seven years in internment camps were, of course, the main training in the whole field of mission work in India, because we met all the other missionaries, Evangelical and Roman Catholic. We did thorough work and had contacts in many fields during this time. Without the seven years of internment I would never have become a Bishop (of Kiel) and never have become a Secretary of the United Lutheran Church in Germany for Foreign Relations, for Mission Work and Diaspora Work, and the Ecumenical Movement.40

The contact in these 'training years' proved to be exceedingly beneficial for the missionary as theologian;

For instance we worked for two years thoroughly through the whole Dogmatics together with four professors of the Roman Catholic Ignatius Loyola College in Bombay. This work (was with) . . . Professor Löwenstein, Professor Neuner and Professor Hörmann, ... all very qualified men.41

The German Lutheran missionaries, detained eight months at Ahmadnagar, a further eight months at Deolali, found ample opportunities at Premnagar for personal and theological studies, as well as Christian fellowship with their Roman brothers in Christ. For confined together, the conditions for mutual studies and understanding between the missionaries seemed more favourable and co-operative in internment than on the actual mission field.

As in everyday life and under the scrutiny of countless eyes, so also in a camp environment, the Christian clergy and missionaries can stand out in their society. Brother Franz Calixtus (Roehl) of the Order of St. Francis, Mount Pointsur, Bombay, is remembered as a helpful and friendly person. Hans Röver, a clergy bachelor of the Leipzig Mission, also stood out as man of Christian character, "a very good man, ... a small chap, but he had a heart of gold."42  Many others added personality dimensions to the camp history, yet likely no clergyman stood out in strength and stature as Father Löwenstein.

Scarcely could the Roman Catholic Church in India have had a priest in that era with such qualifications and with a name which bespoke excellent Christian training and German heritage. On one occasion, according to an internee, Father Löwenstein explained the tradition of his family;

... he talked to a group of us in Dehra Dun. And he said: "Well, my family will always be properly located. One of my brothers is a politician, another is a high military man and I am in the Church. Nothing can happen to my family."43

Father or Prince (Fürst) Löwenstein, as he is remembered by the internees, "was an extraordinarily gifted man, a very solid individual."44 And were one to combine his many titles, one would have the name of the Reverend Father Professor Dr. Felix Löwenstein Prince of Wiesenthal.45

As spokesman and leader of a group of 70 Catholic priests,46 he had been "the Superior of the Jesuit Order."47 Yet Löwenstein is generally remembered with great affection.48 Of a clerical family himself, the non-Roman layman Alfred Brocke commented: "At Ahmadnagar I went rather to the service of Löwenstein than to one of the others. ..."49

Otto Tiedt, one of the five Protestant brethren at the camp remaining after January, 1943, recollected the good working relationship and ministry with Father Löwenstein. One example Tiedt narrated:

We were never supplied (the elements) by the Anglican clergyman there. It was always refused us. The army chaplain himself was a heavy drinker. Anyhow we never were able to obtain them. And so we helped ourselves to cups, etc. Of course we managed, ... but we did not have any wafers, nor wine, etc. The Catholics on the other hand did receive them, and so I petitioned to Prince Löwenstein if we too might obtain them.

So on one occasion he appeared and said: "Here you are, Brother Tiedt; here I have brought you something for your communion. Here are the wafers, though they have been blessed already. You don't have to say it any further." I said: "No, that won't make any difference to us. I will take it and I am grateful to have them." It helped us greatly then.50 

As the shepherd of his flock in internment, Löwenstein conveyed his leadership qualities in a gentle manner;51

He made no bones about his absolute, clear-cut opinion against the Nazis, but he did it so cleverly that everybody knew what he meant, though nobody could catch him about not (being a good German, even) the very strict Nazi camp leader, Dr. Oswald Urchs.52 

Also attributal to Löwenstein's stature and authority was the feeling that "all these padres were the ones who were actually not co-operating with the Nazis, at least though only as they could do it without having severe problems."53

However, the central figure in the German camp community and in the internal authority of Wing One was the above-mentioned Nazi leader. The German national, Oswald  Urchs, M.D.,54 alluded to in the opening chapter, came to India with the giant chemical firm of I.G. Farben Industries,  for which Alfred Brocke, Rolf Magener and others served.55 

Urchs had the special position of being the "Landesgruppenleiter", the chief Nazi for India. In 1936 Urchs became an 'Ehrenbürger'56 of the Third Reich through Adolf Hitler's recognition.57 With the declaration of war and the internment of all German nationals, "the former 'Landesgruppenleiter' became the current camp leader (Lagerleiter). ..."58

In the internment camp Urchs "had his colleagues very much under his influence,"59 and together they cast a shadow of immense control and fear over their fellow internees, among whom were the younger missionaries relegated to the detention camps from 1940 to 1942.

The Nazi influence in the British camps began at Ahmadnagar, when through passive resistance the "declared Nazis stayed in Wing B where they did not pay anything," so as to inflict a financial loss for the Government.60 Again at Deolali the crucial issues of the camp conditions and the shortage of water led to a genuine, successful hunger strike.61

Still, Urchs's background gave one a better insight into this life and what Otto Tiedt (Leipzig) described as "a very impenetrable personality."62 Tiedt was interned with Urchs for over seven years in internment and he had ample time to appraise the once 'Landesgruppenleiter' for India. Urchs was of the German race, though he originated from the Sudetenland border-country of Czechoslovakia,63 from the region which Hitler annexed in October, 1938. Urchs's stern image, as "a very strict Nazi camp leader,"64 or the "impenetrable personality" in carrying out his duties and actions, as ofttimes rumoured, point to certain aspects of his part Jewish family background and the reason for his being in India and not in Germany during the Third Reich.


In the ideological cult of the 1.000 year Deutsches Reich and the glorification of the Führer Hitler, the Nazi regime capitalized on the authority over most German nationals over the world. The focus of attention of the Nazi totalitarianism was in the promotion of a pure and unique State and in the persecution of all political and ideological opponents, which included the "destruction of the European Jews."65 The mass exodus of German Jews from Germany, when there was still a chance, bespoke the immense fears individuals had of the Nazi regime.66 Their fears were substantiated by the atrocities in the concentration camps. In countless cases in the Nazi era, German Jews, as well as Germans opposed to the new ideology, departed from the Third Reich for safer places as British India. Some Germans with a partial Jewish ancestry, able to hide this strain in their background, left Nazi Germany with or without the blessing of Hitler. But for fear of being discovered by their fellow Germans, they served as fervent, loyal Nazi leaders and workers in a foreign land, as in internment.

In September, 1942, Wilhelm Bräsen (Breklum) arrived at Premnagar, Dehra Dun,67 a full year after his colleagues Ahrens, Hübner, Lohse and Speck from the Jeypore District. As the Yercaud Parole Camp was dissolved, Bräsen had to journey north and encountered the internment camp life for the first time. His recollection was vivid, for at Dehra Dun, "there was the so-called 'Golden Ring', composed of the camp Nazis. They held all the positions of course. ... They were all the important people in those days."68

Thus, in the internment camp the Nazis levied a substantial psychological 'clout' over the German internees. This was not difficult to perceive, and silly as it may sound, according to Reimer Speck, "these were things which you can't understand anymore today. But of course in those days it was a reality."69 Because Alfred Brocke "went over to the anti-Nazi company," he too was threatened by the Nazi regulars.70

The Nazi threats, in reference to subsequent prosecution, were directed at unfaithful nationals. Yet, what may appear as absurd to our present-day thinking, in the event the Nazi regime was to win the war, Brocke, as one example, was promised an early sentence: "You'll be thrown overboard;" and such parallel things.71 As a Breklum missionary, Speck concurred fully with Brocke's statement.

Yes, thinking of the Vaterland on the one side and a lost war would have been a terrible thing; and on the other side a won war would also have been a terrible thing. And we knew that our co-internees, the Nazis, had certain lists in the camp of people who would have been thrown overboard at their repatriation, if the Germans had won the war.

Yes, certainly, there were lists of people prepared in the camp by the co-internees. ... They would certainly have thrown some 50 persons overboard on the way home; ... some missionaries included, and other people too.72

Political pressures were applied against the missionary too;

I had a good friend and he was a member of the Nazi Party, and we very often got together in the internment camp. And he got a warning from his superiors not to get into so close a friendship with that missionary Speck, because he belongs to an international organization. He got that warning. He told me about it.73

However, the threats and the warnings directed towards the German nationals were easier said in the pre-Stalingrad days.

Germany's attack on Russia on June 22nd, 1941, was equally matched by Japan's surprise air-attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. As a further major power, the United States of America was brought into the European conflict. It was a bad omen for those who had once believed that the Third Reich could win the war. In spite of America's entrance, the North African drive and the 'Barbarossa campaign' into Russia by Hitler's armies were the successful offensives of 1941 and 1942. In its 'Lebensraum' drive the Third Reich met its Waterloo in the crucial and decisive battles of El-Alamein in Egypt and of Stalingrad on the Volga. On the Russian scene the German 6th Army was entirely encircled by Christmas, 1942, and after months of fighting, the south and the north pockets of the German soldiers fell to the Russians on January 3ist and February 2nd, respeetively.74 General Chukov had emphasized what it would mean to the Soviet people: "The abandonment of the city would destroy the morale of our people. We have to hold Stalingrad or we perish there."75 Stalingrad, as El-Alamein, were the gravest defeats for Hitler's armies, so accustomed to victories, that by 1942 a turning point had been reached in the Reich's growth.

The degree of Nazi pride and influence among the German nationals in internment were measured by the success of the Nazi armies, at least through 1942 and to Stalingrad. The German victories offered another interpretation:

The fact that the Nazis had conquered so many countries was no indication that they would win the war. On the contrary, it was just like an enormous bubble, that if one pricks it sometime, the whole show will collapse.76

Events as El-Alamein and Stalingrad, distant as they were from the Indian scene, helped bring about the collapse of the enormous bubble of pride and the whole show of confidence which the Nazi leadership had had in British India. With the Nazi armies increasingly beset with defeats, the balance of a growing confidence swung in the direction of the Allies, so also for the British authorities in India. According to Christian Lohse (Breklum), "later on in thesituation, as it became clear after 1942 and Stalingrad, there then were some relaxations made."77 The most welcomed relief from the war fever and the harsh security measures of the Government of India came when four Gossner brethren and later four Breklum men were permitted to depart from Dehra Dun to join their families at the Purandhar Family Parole Camp. The"relaxation also brought some of the non-missionary families together after the years of separation.


With the entrance of the Japanese Imperial forces into World War II, the conflict became even more global and it spread deeper into the British Empire, the other Far and Southeast Asian lands, as well as into the Dutch East Indies. Within a matter of weeks, from the original air attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the Philippines, Malaya, Burma and other island nations of the Pacific were invaded by Japan. "By January they had occupied the Netherlands East Indies. On the last day of February, 1942, Japanese troops moved into Java. A week later they took New Guinea. ..."78 The blitz action of the Nippon forces subjected the Dutch authorities to alter their plans radically. It necessitated the immediate evacuation of their own Dutch nationals and "approximately 2.000 German men interned in the Dutch East Indies. ..."79

Already in May, 1940, upon the invasion of Holland by Hitler's armies, all German nationals in the Netherlands East Indies were rounded up and placed under internment at Fort de Kock first (May-October, 1940) and then at Alas Vallei (Oct.'40-Dec.'41), both locations in North Sumatra.80 Among these German internees were "all the missionaries, doctors and deacons of the Rhenish, the Basel and the Neukirchner Missions. ..."81 Due to the Japanese invasion, all German male nationals were hastily "transferred to British India."82 The wives and the children of these Germans, along with the single ladies, remained behind in the Dutch colony, as was also the case with the Rhenish Mission (Batak Church) personnel remaining at the "refugee camp of Raja, near Berastagi on Sumatra."83 However, the swift evacuation of the Dutch and the German nationals by the authorities added another dimension to the history of Christian Missions and the further loss of German missionary lives. The Sechtes Merkblatt über die Lage der Deutschen in Britisch-Indien, the annual bulletin of the German Office of Foreign Affairs, reported what had already become general knowledge in British India:

As a consequence to the events of the war in the Far East, in January, 1942, the Dutch transferred the German male civil internees from the central internment camp of Alas Vallei on Sumatra to British India and there handed them over to the British-Indian authorities. Two transport ships arrived safely in British India; however the third transport ship was regrettably sunk on account of the war activities, whereby unfortunately because of the inadequate life-saving equipment, a large number of Germans of the Reich lost their lives. All the relatives have been notified. Those who were saved now are safe and sound on Sumatra, of which the relatives have likewise been informed.84 

Nevertheless, the Merkblatt failed to mention some basic facts to the sinking incident, e.g. that these German internees, with "some of the German missionaries, were lost when a ship conveying them to India was sunk by the Japanese."85 On January 19th, 1942, the steamship "van Imhoff", with two other Dutch ships and accompanied by the Dutch cruiser "Java", departed from Sibolga, a west Sumatra port.86. According to the missionary Gottlob Weiler, one of the survivors, three bombs on account of a Japanese aerial attack struck the "van Imhoff" and the ship sank; and of the 477 German internees aboard, 411 perished. The Dutch crew and the 66 survivors managed to get away in life-boats.87 The tragedy lay both in the fact that the Japanese bombed a boat with German nationals, but further that all the lifeboats were not in order so that the Dutch crew offered the internees little assistance; and the life-boats of the Dutch were half full. Then a day later the Dutch ship "Boelongan" passed through the waters to rescue any of the Dutch crew of the "van Imhoff". Upon finding no Dutch personnel, the "Boelongan" crew rejected all pleas of the stranded Germans, even for fresh water, and left the surviving men to paddle their rudderless life-boat, until hey came to the island of Nias.88 "On account of the war activities" such atrocities were conveniently forgotten. At any rate, along with the approximate 600 German internees already in India, there were also about "1.300 German men who were brought from the Dutch East Indies to British India"89 and presented to the British authorities.

Friedrich Hübner (Breklum) remembered the tragedy from his days at Dehra Dun. His response was: "There were  quite a number of missionaries among the dead at the time."90 It correctly indicated the impact over the loss of 17 German missionaries among the younger Christian churches. Among the dead were five Rhenish Mission men, four Basel men from Borneo, one Neukirchner and seven Evangelical missionaries serving with a Dutch Missionary Society.91

In writing to his former director Karl Hartenstein, Fritz Mack (Basel), interned at Kodaikanal, expressed his reaction to the grave misfortune over the lives lost;

The fate of our Borneo brothers has shocked us all deeply. Brothers Schweitzer and Trostel were the first in my graduating class to have departed from us. Would you please convey my heartfelt sympathies to the Schweitzer and Mall families, whom I personally know. In remembrance of these departed brothers I have written the accompanying poem, which perhaps expresses how I felt about their death. We attempted immediately after we heard the news to make some contact with the other brethren who were brought to India. Finally after many weeks we received a short letter from Brother Baer, but in which it is neither clear where he is with the others, nor whether he is still at the camp in Ramgarh.92

Fritz Mack's poem - "in remembrance of these departed brothers"93 - in the censored mail was removed for permanence.94

Further reports on the transfer reached Germany:

The interned missionaries, who up to recently had been in the Dutch East Indies, all appear to be situated at the Ramgarh Camp; only the missionary physician Dr. Thompson of the Rhenish Mission is serving as a camp doctor in Bombay (Presidency).95

In the location of the Ramgarh Camp the readers of the Evangelische Missionszeitschrift were introduced to another detention center in the list of internment camps used for German nationals in India. According to Erich Klappert, a Rhenish missionary from Sumatra, it was a military cantonment96 evacuated for the German internees.96 The Missions periodical attempted to give the missionaries' new locality:

They are at Ramgarh in the Province of Bihar, and it lies at the point of the intersection of 81 (sic 85.5) degrees longtitude and 23 (sic 23.5) degrees latitude, exactly west of Calcutta, in the middle (of India) between the coasts.97

The Ramgarh internment for the Dutch East Indies internees turned out to be a temporary stopover, January 13th to July 21st, 1942, because of the Japanese threat on the Burma front and the military needing the cantonment. Thus, a further provisional stay was planned at the Deoli camp, at the edge of the Thar Desert, lasting from July 24th, 1942 through April 19th, 1943.98 Within the year, the news from British India was:

All 36 missionaries, doctors and deacons of the Rhenish Mission from Sumatra are now located at the Internment Camp of Premnagar at Dehra Dun at the height of 800 metres at the foot of the Himalayas.99

The Rhenish Mission personnel of the Sumatra Batak Church were by far the largest group at Dehra Dun, followed by the six Neukirchner missionaries. In the case of the Basel Mission, it was reported that "in April of the year, the five Borneo brethren at Deoli were also transported there."100 The Deoli Camp, in the State of Ajmer-Merwara, was then used as an Italian 'prisoners of war' settlement, for those brought to India from the African conflict.101

The German nationals from the Dutch East Indies then "got a special wing" at Premnagar. As a separate wing102 or unit they were severed from the Germans who were residents of British India.103 Nevertheless, contact between the missionaries of the two wings was apparently possible, for Hübner pointed out that "contacts with the Sumatra Rhen ish missionary people" were initiated right away.104 Each wing had its own tasks, its own services and the missionaries offered a ministry to those interested.

The German evacuees from the Dutch colony lingered at Premnagar until November 11th, 1946, when they were repatriated to Germany on the Dutch steamship "Sloterdyk".105 Their families from Sumatra and the East Indies only arrived in Germany in July, 1947.106 Their fate and their experiences under the Japanese is another chapter of wartime Christian Missions and one also little known even today.


The death of any Christian missionary in the 20th century seems unjust and tragic, especially when it appears to be the case of neglect or the sin of omission. Over the decades the foreign missionary has been regarded the shepherd and the teacher to hundreds of people in the mission congregations. Fritz Mack of the Basel Missionary Society  was one such missionary in British India.107 After a short but rich and devoted career, his family was struck by tragedy in Germany. The tragedy was heightened by the rigours of the World War and it finally led to suffering and death. Mack's death was the second among the German Missions' personnel in India during the turbulent, troubled years of the internment period. In 1940, Frau Marlene Tauscher, mother  of seven children, died due to a grave error.108 Fritz Mack's life came to an end at the Premnagar Internment Camp. His life is an example of Christian sacrifice and disciple-ship, as he gave himself for the younger Church.

In October, 1941, among the 600 German nationals who  were transported from the Deolali Cantonment to Dehra Dun,109 there was a group of eleven Protestant missionaries. A year later, as the Kodaikanal and Yercaud Parole Camps were reduced, the families were sent to Satara, and Bräsen (Breklum) journeyed to Premnagar. At the time of the transfer Fritz Mack was recuperating from surgery at the Swedish Mission Hospital at Tirupattur.110 When he was strong enough to leave in September, 1942, he had no other choice, as his colleague Theodor Lorch noted: "The bachelors mostly went to Dehra Dun, ... while we, in contrast, with our families  came to Satara."111 Mack's family though, as Bräsen's, was in Germany. Here it might seem feasible to digress into the missionary Mack's life.

The Reverend Friedrich A. Mack was born on January 5th, 1906, in Aalen, Württemberg,112 in the German "Basel Mission country". Easter, 1926, Fritz Mack began with the first student class following World War I at the Missions Institute at Basel, and with "his above average' aptitude completed in five years"113 the customary missionary  preparatory course of six years.114 Following his language studies residence in England, he departed for British India on October 17th, 1931. In November of that year Mack began a most fruitful and remarkable term of service in the Malabar (Coast) District of the Basel Mission Church, at first responsible for the Nettur and Wanyankulam stations. Completing his Malayalam exams, two years after his arrival, in September, 1933, Mack married Marie Meier, a Swiss secretary from the Basel Mission House.115 In 1936 he was assigned to Calicut, the largest city congregation on the Malabar. Lorch, as College principal in Calicut since 1937, remembered the disposition of his fellow-worker: "He was a friend of all and was always in good humour; one of the few rare people who made everyone at ease around him.''116 Yet he "was Schwabian and his soul contained all the fundaments and gulfs peculiar to many people of this ethnic group."117 

In India Mack gave of himself with his whole heart for the welfare and the evangelistic work of the Mission churches, going from "village to village, from house to  house, carrying the word of salvation."118 His fellow labourer Dr. Friso Melzer, who first met Mack in Calicut in 1935,119 recalled that the Indian Christians spoke of him with their highest tribute and affection; "Mack Sahib talked just like a Malayali. If you could not see him and you heard his voice, you would say that it was one of us talking."120 Melzer, himself a scholar in Indian Studies, admitted that "Fritz Mack surpassed all the other missionaries  in his abilities in the Malayalam language."121 Not only was Mack a gifted linguist, but his short book, Der Wunder Anfang (The Marvellous Beginning), according to Alfons Koechlin "belongs to the best of missions literature."122 Melzer also had high praise for the work: "I know no book in the German language out of the Indian mission world in this century which can be equated with it in content and in stature. It is the true witness of a true man."123

In March, 1937, after a 5 ½ year term in India, Mack and his family returned to Europe for a furlough. The Mack family had two sons, Uli and Günther, born 1934 and 1936 respectively. After some months of vacationing, Mack began a six-month term as a deputation minister in Crailsheim, effective September 1st, 1937.124 In all the years in India the family had managed health-wise, in fact, their two young boys had begun their lives on the Malabar Coast. Upon returning to Germany the first in a series of rare and tragic events struck the Mack family. Christmas was only days ahead, when on December 12th, 1937, Marie Mack was killed in an accident.125

On Monday, December 13th, we received the shocking news of the death of Frau Missionary Mack, née Meier, on account of an automobile accident. Frau Mack had been invited by friends to go for a car drive to Stuttgart. On their way back to Crailsheim the car was struck by a train at a railroad crossing without a gate, and as a result all four passengers were killed outright. Missionary Mack and both the small children, as also the Mission, have thereby suffered a great loss.126

The personal tragedy delayed Mack's departure for India until September 14th, 1938. He "returned again to his former congregation in Calicut; but at the same time the office of District Chairman for the Malabar field was conferredon him."127 At 32 years of age, Mack and his two Swiss colleagues, Burckhardt and Noverraz, served as the chairmen of the three Basel Mission districts. Yet the return passage to India in September had given Mack a new outlook on life;

... he became acquainted with Fraulein Carla Tegtmeier from Hamburg; she was travelling out to China on the same steamer as a missionary of the Hochau Mission. Then in January, 1939, he became engaged to her. Fraulein Tegtmeier returned home the beginning of March, 1939, so that she could get to know both the Mack children.128

On the Malabar District at the time, Lorch later wrote: "We prepared for his second wedding, when the war broke out and made his hopes to be joined again to a life companion come to nothing."129 The projected trip for August 30th, 1939, for his bride-to-be and his two sons, was blocked by the outbreak of hostilities.130 

In India the war was also upon the German personnel of the Basel Mission. On September 4th, 1939, at the Emergency Meeting of the Malabar Mission Council, Mack resigned from his offices,131 and the same evening his internment  days began.132 The stay at the Ahmadnagar Cantonment Camp was short for Mack, as already in the first week of December he was released as the first Basel missionary. Again he took up his mission labours, though now his nationality curtailed him from any administrative duties. "Brother Mack was appointed as station-missionary for Waniyankulam,"133 one of the two mission stations from his first term in India.

In the Spring of 1940 seven Basel families were repatriated to Germany. Mack could well have returned to his family, but he had only just come out again from his furlough. By not being repatriated, he indicated his desire to abide by his calling and his commitment to the Indian Church. He was in good health and he felt that the highest priority in life was his service to the younger Church; in spite of the war, the missionaries were free to continue their work. Mack's hope was that his bride could come out and assist him in his mission endeavours. And Alfons Koechlin correctly appraised Mack's need, or even prophetically predicted an outcome when he wrote to Adolf Streckeisen in Calicut: "We feel that Mack could not stand the strain for years to have no wife at his side, and that if his work is to be fruitful he ought to have his Carla."134  Koechlin sensed the consequences, so much so that his letter of April 24th, 1940, to his Swiss colleague Streckeisen, is primarily concerned with the Mack-Tegtmeier couple;

In a former letter I wrote that her journey to India was impossible. Since then Hilde Uber brought to me the repeated request of Mack, that we might open the way for his bride to India. The journey home of Hilde Uber has proved that women of German nationality might travel on Italian boats without difficulties. ... In addition we have heard that the Colonial Secretary of Hong-Kong has in principle granted permission for two German brides to pass through the Colony of Hong-Kong on their way to China. He has even written to the British General Consul at Basel to give, in case such a request should be made by the B.M., the necessary transit visum.

Carla Tegtmeier ... is of course also very anxious to join Mack. ... The Committee of the Basel Mission thinks that under those circumstances and after so many of our missionaries have left India, a sending out of Carla ought if possible to take place.

As far as we see the first thing to do is to make (it) clear in India if Carla gets permission there to enter the Indian territory, and if the Indian Government gives permission to a German to become married. Unless we have this certainty we cannot take any steps here. ... Would you kindly undertake the necessary steps officially? It is evident that we ought not to exercise any undue pressure.135

The Swiss brethren Koechlin and Streckeisen corresponded concerning the Mack family, but they failed "to exercise any undue pressure",136 or to gain the assistance of William Paton in London, A.L. Warnshuis in New York, the Metropolitan Foss Westcott in Calcutta, Bishop Stephen Neill or any number of other Church leaders friendly towards the German Missions; any or all could have lent a Samaritan hand for Fritz Mack, his bride and his two sons.

With the Nazi invasions in the Spring of 1940 and Italy's entrance into the war, no visas were to be available. The opportunities for Mack to return to Germany or his family to come to India apparently closed. On July 10th, 1940, the second and final internment period began for Mack  and the other missionary families at Kodaikanal.137 The first 18 months on this hill-station, termed a vacation by Streckeisen after visiting his German brethren twice,138 were routine and without excessive complaints. Now the special plea for repatriating Mack and Brasen under the new war conditions came to nothing.139 Seeing no possibilities for reunion right away, on February 21st, 1942, Fritz Mack in Kodaikanal and Carla Tegtmeier in Hamburg were married by proxy through the International Red Cross.140  

However, in January, 1942, Fritz Mack's appendix had begun to irritate him, and 17 months later he was dead. Mack
Sahib's correspondence with his bride best tells the story;

  • Kodaikanal, 19 January, 1942: And (I wonder) whether our marriage certificate will reach you before February 21st? It is possible that I might have to spend that day in the hospital since I will likely have to undergo an appendicitis operation. It is not a case of an acute infection, but I feel an irritation sometimes. Now in the next few days I am going to let a Swedish Mission doctor examine me, and he happens to be a good surgeon and has recommended an operation. Yet I still have to await his final decision. ....141

  • Kodaikanal, 21 February, 1942: I have the permit for my operation, hut now the doctor is on a trip. Perhaps it will work out next month. If it happens to be the case I will relate the news to Koechlin or Annie. It was dear of you to think of this day today. .... I will soon thank Uli (7) and Gunther (5) for their letters and pictures. Give each of them a kiss for me. 142

  • Kodaikanal, 15 March, 1942: The days are so uniform. My operation has still not been performed, since the doctor is still on his trip. But at present I don't have any complaints. It will now become very hot down on the plains, so that I would rather wait for the cooler season. ...Oh, why can't you just come to me?143

  • Kodaikanal, Easter 1942: Frau Lipp lies gravely ill in Yercaud from a brain malaria. Today I now can give you some good news: I don't have to be operated on. Yesterday a Government doctor visited the camp and he examined me thoroughly (he didn't come on account of me). He believes that the symptoms do not bespeak of appendicitis, rather it could be more so an after-effect of unhealed dysentery that occasionally gives pains. So I will let myself be treated for it and push aside the thoughts of the operation. I am doubly thankful for that. ....144 

  • Kodaikanal, 9 August, 1942: This is probably the last letter which I will write to you before my operation. Tomorrow I will travel, if everything works out, (to the hospital) and on Wednesday I will be freed from my appendix. Sorry that I could not inform you of it sooner, so that you might especially think of me. I still have a somewhat peculiar feeling. But I am quite calm and confident. Dr. Sendel is a good surgeon and to judge by human standards all should go well. We are of course in God's hands in every station of life. ....145

  • Tirupattur (Swedish Mission hospital), 18 August, 1942: Now the operation is behind me. How grateful I am that everything went well and that I can report to you, even if I am a bit shaky. Can you imagine that my appendix had developed into a proper 'climbing plant' and had pushed itself as far as under the right kidney. For almost two hours I lay under the surgeon's knife, and only because of the doctor's skill can one be grateful that my side did not have to be opened up as well. The wound appears to have healed well, since I scarcely can feel pain anymore. Tomorrow the clamps will be removed and if all goes well, I can return to Kodaikanal already next week. Was that an experience after the camp life to see the open country. When will it be that one can go free?146 

  • Dehra Dun (Internment Camp, No. 13,019), 14 December, 1942: ... Day after tomorrow the Breklumers leave for the Family Camp (as the Gossners); then I will be alone with Bräsen and two unmarried Leipzig missionaries (Röver and Tiedt). ... It is not easy now that all the others are leaving to be joined with their families, though one should certainly be happy for each one. Involuntarily one increases to think of the "Why" and "How long". My scar has been hurting me lately. The doctor is not quite sure whether it means that a suture has partially opened up inside. So I have to be careful.147

  • At the Premnagar 'Campus Teutonicus', Dehra Dun, Otto Tiedt remembered Mack's troubles: He came to us there, and after a while he began to complain about pains in his body. So we finally said to him: "Good grief! We have a hospital and everything here. .... You have to examined; this has to be looked into. ..."148

  • Dehra Dun, 8 April, 1943, Mack wrote to Carla again: Out of inclination I have to go into the hospital now! I was already there for some time, but now tomorrow I have to have X-rays made at the military hospital. The result of the examination is still not clear. Perhaps as an outgrowth of the earlier operation an abscess has developed, or there is something not quite in order with the kidney. After such a short time I don't want to consent to another operation that easily. ....149

  • Dehra Dun, 1 May, 1943, Mack Sahib, as internee No. 13,019, wrote his closing letter to his wife Carla: Since the beginning of April I was first in the camp hospital for a short examination and then in the military hospital for a thorough examination. Presumably I have an abscess in the stomach area. Stomach, intestines and kidneys are sound on the basis of the many examinations and X-rays. Apparently it now concerns a malignant tumour (blood abscess?) between the navel and the appendix scar. ... It is growing very quickly and this could be technically problematic in removing it some time later. The doctors, also our camp doctors here, have advised me to have an operation at once. ... Dearest Sweetheart! You must not worry. Humanly speaking everything will be done which can be done and I am in the hands of first-class surgeons. ... Nothing can befall us without the leading and will of God. There is another reason why I would prefer not to wait too long. The heat now is increasing every day and in the hospital tents of the camp it becomes quite hot already during the day. Thus, the earlier the better. It would certainly he much nicer and easier if you could only he near me, hut this hardship we have to hear bravely. In God's trusted hands we are well sheltered, you there and I here. Loving greetings to all and heartfelt kisses to you and the children. From yours, Fritz 150

The military hospital at Dehra Dun was being renovated at the time, so that it could only accommodate the British personnel cases.151 Instead of the one-week waiting period, three weeks passed. Finally on May 22nd Mack was operated on for a second time within a year, and it was absolutely in the hottest days of the year. 152 Two persons who knew Fritz Mack, namely Otto Tiedt at Dehra Dun and his wife Carla, separately and yet uniformly related about his death. Tiedt recalled:

And then it was confirmed that as they opened him up, that it was already too late. Yes, there was a swab and more, . . . left remaining in there and his body had begun to suppurate. For that reason he died. There was sepsis. ...153

Carla Mack was informed that the British surgeons, upon opening up Mack again, discovered a surgical sponge left from the operation nine months earlier at Tirupattur.154 Finally in July Carla was informed through the German Foreign Office that her husband had passed away on June 7th, 1943. On the British certificate the official cause of death was tetanus.155

Fritz Mack's mission and ministry in life were interrupted when he was 33 years old. At the age of 37 "he died at Dehra Dun. He lies at the Internees' Cemetary in Dehra Dun."156 J Mack Sahib was a captive at the rim of modern civilization's engrossed conflict of pagan nationalisms which engendered the "deification of the State ... (as) a direct challenge to the freedom of the individual for self-expression."157  Karl Barth had termed Hitlerism as "the had dreams158 of German pagans," though all nations have their bad dreams and their nationalisms. Yet between the warring 'tribes', Christian Missions' personnel were taken and held captive for their nationalities. Mack was a civil prisoner of war on account of the national paganism of his day; he suffered from poor medical advice and service in his captivity; his Swiss Mission brethren could not give him his wife and sons for fear of "pressure" on the neutral Society; and the procrastination at Dehra Dun, because there was no room for the German; all were factors which eventually took his life.

Mack Sahib was a bearer of Christianity and of the truth of his convictions. He sacrificed his life rather than abandon his mission to the Indian Church on the Malabar Coast. In the closing years of his internment life, in the loneliness and in the yearning for his family, Mack wrote poems, and in this one offered a prayer, entitled 'Bitte' :

Our dear Lord God, how well you know,
Of our complaints, of our soul's woe,
You know too, the heartfelt pain,
Which burdens us in this time of strain.
From the heart, one thing do we beg of you,
Do not make our burdens quite so true,
Help us to believe through the doubt of night,
Until we meet you in the eternal light.159


The months and the years at Premnagar, "at the rim of the jungle"160 and amidst the Dehra Dun tea garden country between the Swalik foot-hills and the Himalaya mountains, have a host of memories for the German nationals once interned in Wing 1. There were many things to remember: - the mountains and the snow-capped peaks in winter; the scenery and the rivers; the lights at night of Mussoorie; the seasons with the cold of winter and the dreadful heat of summer; the lasting friendships; drinking coffee or tea for breakfast on the barrack's verandha; the amusing events and the tragic incidents; the silly fears and tensions, and the surprising loyalties; and much more - all at the thatched village. For some the time was measured by months, for others the detention was for years. Patterns for the "routine internee"161 were established with the chores in the kitchen and the cleaning of the barracks and the bunks. Innumerable forms of activities were introduced into the daily schedule, so much so that one internee wrote home:

If only we had more time! I know this deep heartfelt sigh sounds more than comical. You would believe that we didn't know how we would begin to use our time, ... but each who is somewhat active has so much to do that the day is simply far too short.162

To begin with there were good opportunities in the field of sports, e.g. football, volleyball, ring-tennis, hockey and callisthenics. There were the theatrical productions, the musical concerts - given by the internees or played from records, the choir programs and also the cinema films. The celebrations for special events and birthdays were well supported by the good camp bakery; the excursions and hikes provided a change in scenery; and there were language courses in the European and Indian tongues.163 An entire faculty with students was established with preparatory courses for university, technical and vocational schools, as also for commercial, agricultural and academic vocations;164 and there were occasions for worship and religious studies. For the educated and the enterprising there was much to do within the small barbed-wire compound.

Some of the memories are still vivid and unique, and Johannes Klimkeit (Gossner) offered these two anecdotes:

Then in Dehra Dun it was quite interesting. Just a short story: "The Monkeys!" The monkeys came from the jungles begging. They wanted bread and we had too much. Each day we received one large loaf of bread and we couldn't eat that much. The coolies used to take the rest along, hut they also had enough. But then came the monkeys. We threw the bread over the barbed wire and the monkeys carried it off into the jungles.

There was a man from Berlin. ... He wasn't a missionary; he had been an engineer with a paper mill. He then wrote to his wife: "Well, well, well, how times sure have changed. When we were in Berlin we used to go to the zoo and there we saw the monkeys behind bars. Here it is just the opposite; we are behind barbed wire and the monkeys come to visit us. They are free."165 

The second concerned a German national, but not a missionary: 

... he started to cultivate an area between the barracks. We had a fairly good space between the barracks which could be ... dug up. So we asked him what he was going to do here. 
"Well," he said, "I am going to plant oranges."
"Do you think that the war is going to last that long so that you will have oranges - fully ripened oranges?"
"Yes, it is going to last that long."
So he started digging up the earth, and he ordered his orange plants and he planted them. After four years he had his fruit and he could eat it too. He was like Jeremiah, who wrote to the Jews departed for Babylon: "Settle there and plant gardens."166

The Dehra Dun captivity could be compared to Babylon and Jeremiah's words: "Your exile will be long; build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their produce."167

No aspect of the ministry in the name of the Christian Church is as pernickety as the one directed to one's national peers in a foreign land. A ministry is particularly fastidious when fellow internees regard the Christian Missions' endeavours with certain disdain and ridicule. The claims that the missions personnel belonged to international organizations,168 stood in contrast to the national ideology which dwelt on the individual being faithful to the Vaterland and the aims of the Third Reich. Ideologically Christian Missions did seek a "supranational" status. But to have a Christian ministry among German nationals, many dedicated to or fearful of the Nazi organization, seemed even a greater challenge than the mission station.

There were parallels to be found between Hindu Aryan-ism (the Sanskrit arya) and the German version of Nazi Ary-anism (contrast to the Semite). Both systems were devoted to a pure blood theory, a sacredness of their land and state, and a meticulous attention to a greater order and the rites of their societies.169 Each movement identified with the leading religion of the land and both fostered a nationalism at the time.170 Under the circumstances of internment for the German nationals, the missionaries offered a ministry.

The German Evangelical-Lutheran missionaries to British India, stationed with their Roman Catholic brethren at the German Wing 1 of the Dehra Dun camp, served a community of 500 souls. In December, 1942, and January, 1943, when the four Gossner and the four Breklum missionaries respectively departed for the Family Camp at Purandhar,171 a few remained to carry on Christian worship in the Protestant tradition. Autumn, 1942, Bräsen and Mack had also arrived from South India. Then the year 1943 brought the additional German missionaries, those originally from the Dutch East Indies;172 they were transferred from Deoli in April, hut assigned to another wing. Shortly before his death, Fritz
Mack had the opportunity to meet the five surviving fellow Basel missionaries, Bar, Baier, Braun, Gerlach and Weissinger,173 but "unfortunately he was not able to enjoy their fellowship very long."174

Otto Tiedt of the Leipzig Mission spent over five years at the Premnagar Wing 1, and he remembered that "those from the Dutch East Indies came to us, as did those from Persia; all the Germans were hrought there."175 He offered this commentary on their ministry in internment:

There was maybe about a wing of us; we were still about 500 there. Every Sunday we held our worship services in camp. We were all together in this thing, thrown together, and what we had we wanted to give them, namely the Gospel. ...

The priests also held their masses. ...

We always held our worship services. Few came to them; they were (mostly) all party members. So we then did it this way for a time; we appealed directly 'on the front'. We let it be known: "Day after tomorrow is Sunday worship; the sermon title for the morning service will be, etc. ..." We alternated as missionaries. Not all though, because there were some who said, having been in India a long time already; "We don't know this (Nazi) company at all. It's better if the younger ones take care of that. ..." So we took upon ourselves the responsibility, not because we necessarily had become better acquainted with the opposition.176

In spite of the rigid socio-political structure within the camp and the Nazi allegiance among most of the internees, the faithful few gathered on Sunday. Tiedt noted:

... We preached the Gospel steadfastly to this 'society', whether they came (in numbers) or not. It is remarkable that not one worship service was cancelled. ... There were always a couple of people there, even if there were six or seven. ...177

Later some of the Dutch East Indies missionaries were transferred over to Wing 1, for according to Tiedt, the Neuklrchner missionary "Kroh ... helped us out then also."178 Subjected to the same fate, an ecumenism developed among the Christians. Again Tiedt gave this account:

... There we practiced an ecumenism. ... An Adventist preacher and missionary, I will always remember him - (Erich) Bethmann. ... He too helped us with the worship. We said to him: "You do it the way you think best with the liturgy, etc. If you have other ideas, then use them in the manner you believe to be correct." So he held services as we had been doing them, and we could have a unified form of liturgy. ....

He was married, but he had come from Persia. His wife was somewhere else; at least she was not in India. . . . But in any case, this man helped us greatly; that good Bethmann! He had his peculiarities, which certainly belong to the Adventist Church, hut they were not at all noticeable. He thoroughly devoted himself to the preaching of the Gospel. ...

We made no claims; "We are Lutherans or Reformed, etc." It was a mixed group in camp, though it was largely the Evangelical Church. ... And for all those years (1941-1946) it went very well.

Then, when the war had ceased, we had a noticeable increase in the worship service attendance. Now then we had 40 to 50 people coming for morning worship, when before we had only 15 to 20; for these had actually had fears. Yet I must admit even today, that when these individuals came early to Sunday services, I raise my hat to them. It was naturally expected of us, but these men, say one who was an Inspector for a firm or as a mechanic who had been out there, they shaved early on Sundays, dressed up in clean white trousers and a clean white shirt, and then they came to this place for morning worship. Yet as they went there, they would he jeered at by the others in the barracks; "You there, you belong to them?! You're going to the traitors, etc.!" And yet these men continued to come for the entire duration of the war. 179




Sir S.G. Burrard, K.C.S.I. (Surveyor General of India), "United Provinces - Dehra Dun District & Tehri State," Catalogue of Maps (Calcutta: Survey of India Offices, 1915; London: IOLR, Ref. 78º O'to 10; 30º 30'to 15'.



 Rolf Magener, Die Chance War Null (Frankfurt/M & Berlin: Verlag Ullstein GmbH, 1963), p. 5; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt über die Lage der Deutschen in Britisch-Indien (Berlin: German Government, State December", 1942), p. 3.



Magener, loc. cit.



Ibid.; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 4; Walter Freytag, ed., "Nachrichten und Streiflichter," Evangelische Missions-Zeitschrift (Stuttgart: Evangelischer Missionsverlag, July-September, 1943), p. 150.



Auswärtiges Amt, Fünftes Merkblatt über die Lage der Deutschen in Britisch-Indien und auf Ceylon (Berlin: German Government, State December, 1941), p. 3; "Nachdem bereits Ende August einige Vertrauensleute der Internierten unter Führung des früheren Landesgruppenleiters und jetzigen Lagerleiters Dr. Urchs in das noch im Bau befindliche Lager Dehra Dun abgereist waren, erfolgte Ende Oktober die Verlegung des gesamten Lagers." The Sechstes Merkblatt points out that the transfer was in the beginning of October after all.


Reimer Speck, P.I. (Molfsee, near Kiel: 25 September, 1970), Tr. p. 7; Mortimer von Belling, "Exilium Triste Domini Mortimer de Belling" (Premnagar: 16 February, 1943; Artist Ernst Messerschmidt; Appendix).



Auswärtiges Amt, Fünftes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 10.



Gerhard Swatek, P.I. (Erlangen: 20 November, 1974), Tr. p. 4.



Christian Lohse, P.I. (Husum: 18 July, 1972), Tr. p. 7.



Swatek, op. cit., p. 5; Auswärtiges Amt, Fünftes Merkblatt, loc. cit.



Ernst Messerschmidt, Murals in 'Spelunca Vinosa'; Appendix.



Magener, loc. cit.



Ibid., p. 10; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 3.






von Belling, loc. cit.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt loc. cit.



Wilhelm Bräsen, P.I. (Neukirchen, Malente: 28 September, 1970), Tr. p. 6; Otto Tiedt, P.I. (Erlangen: 27 September, 1973), Tr. p. 8.


Magener, op. cit., p. 21; Belling, loc. cit. "in this case it was either the "7. Casa Episcopi" or "10. Casa Clericalis".


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 6.


Johannes Klimkeit, P.I. (Bierde: 23 August, 1973), Tr. p. 10.


Lohse, loc. cit.


Magener, op. cit.. p. 5; Heinrich Harrer, Sieben Jahre in Tibet (Wien: Ullstein & Co., GmbH, 1952), p. 9; here the Tibeten researcher Harrer noted; "... diese Welt unterschied sich allzu stark von den lichten, einsamen Höhen des Himalaja. Das war nichts für einen freiheitliebenden Menschen!"


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 5; Erich Klappert, Erlebnlsse - 2375 Tage Im "Paradies" und im "Wunderland" gefangen (Wiehl: Selbstverlag Erich Klappert, 1978), p. 58, on which he wrote: "Von dem auf einem der Vorberge gelegenen Erholungsort Moussoori sah man abends vom Lager aus die Lichter aufblitzen." Mussoorie, along with its suburbs, has always been one of the favorite hill-stations of the Himalaya mountains. Half-a-dozen excellent boarding-schools are scattered over the ridges of Mussoorie and Landour. Thus, only ten to twelve miles below Mussoorie (as the crow flies) and totally unbeknown to the writer at the time attending the American Mission Woodstock School of Landour in his childhood days, the drama of the internment camp at Premnagar occurred.



Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, loc. cit.


Magener, op. cit., p. 17.


Ibid., p. 9.


Ibid., p. 11.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 3. According to the German Government's estimates, there were approximately 2,050 German nationals in the internment camps of India, the largest number of which were at Dehra Dun. This figure does not include the hundreds of German Jewish immigrants and refugees.


Magener, op. cit. . pp. 20-23; Klimkeit, op. cit., p. 7. The Gossner missionary only mentioned the presence of these celebrities.

Auszug aus dem Buch "Die Chance war null" von Rolf Magener, 1954  124 KB




Harrer, op. cit., p. 12.


Klimkeit, loc. cit.


Alfred Brocke, P.I. (München: 14 October, 1969), Tr. p. 14, and also a statement not on tape; Friedrich Hübner, P.I. (Kiel: 25 September, 1970), Tr. p. 1.


Selma Heller, "Rev. H. Röver - a Life of Service in India, and for the Gospel of Christ" (Unpublished biographical sketch; Erlangen: LML - Heller File, 15 April, 1972), p. 1.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 8.


Magener, op. cit.. p. 5.


Swatek, op. cit., p. 6.


Hübner, op. cit.


Swatek, loc. cit.


Hübner, loc. cit.


Ibid.; their names were Paul Hörmann, Josef Neuner and Felix von Löwenstein.


Swatek, loc. cit.




Ibid., p. 5.


 Brocke, op. cit., p. 8; Hübner, op. cit., p. 7; Swatek, loc. cit.; Tiedt, op. cit., pp. 8, 15.


Swatek, loc. cit.


Brocke, loc.cit. t., p. 8.


Tiedt, op. ci


Brocke, loc. cit. 


Tiedt, op. cit.. p. 15.


Swatek, loc. cit.




Brocke, loc. cit.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 11; mentions, "... der bekannte deutsche Arzt und Landesgruppenleiter Dr. Urchs aus Bombay. ..."


Brocke, op. cit., p. 14; Magener, op. cit., p. 7.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, loc. cit.; "... der tüchtigen Lagerleitung zu verdanken, deren bewährter Vorsitzender, ... Landesgruppenleiter Dr. Urchs. ..."


Marianne Brocke, P.I. (München: 25 January, 1975), an untaped statement. The Brockes knew the Urchs couple through their firm in India.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, loc. cit.


Heinz von Tucher, P.I. (Gufflham, Bavaria: 29 December, 1969), Tr. p. 3.


Ibid., p. 2.


Helmuth Borutta, P.I. (Exten: 23 August, 1973), Tr. p. 6; Klimkeit, op. cit., p. 8.


Tiedt, op. cit., p. 14.


Marianne Brocke, loc. cit.; Gerhard Swatek, P.I. (Erlangen: 24 February, 1974), Tr. p. 1.


Swatek, P.I. November, op. cit.. p. 5.


Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1961, 771 pages).


Walter Fabisch, P.I. (Nottingham, I.K.: 6 July, 1966), Tr. p. 4; Oskar Gans, P.I. (Erlangen: 7 March, 1973), Tr. pp. 1, 8.


Bräsen, loc. cit.


Ibid., p. 7.


Speck, op. cit., p. 10.


Alfred Brocke, op. cit., p. 11.




Speck, loc. cit.




Hermann Kinder and Werner Hilgemann, DTV - Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (Munchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1966, Vol. 2), pp. 206-207.


Paul Carell, Der Russlandkrieg - Fotografiert von Soldaten (Frankfurt/M - Berlin: Verlag Ullstein GmbH, 1967), p. 204. This happens to be "Der Bildband zu Unter-nehmen Barbarossa und Verbrannte Erde."


Alfred Brocke, op. cit., p. 12.


Lohse, op. cit., p. 9.


Kenneth Scott Latourette and William Richey Hogg, World Christian Community In Action (The Story of World War II and Orphaned Missions; London & New York: IMC, 1949), p. 22.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit. . p. 3; Klappert, op. cit., p. 19.


Freytag, (EMZ, February, 1942), op. cit., p. 60; Klappert, ojj. cit.. pp. 12, 19. Klappert wrote (p.19): "Inzwischen hatten die Holländer in dem ganz malariaverseuchten und von hohen Bergen eingesäumten feuchtheissen Alastal ein für mehr als 2.000 Deutsche weit abgelegenes Stacheldrahtlager errichtet."


Freytag, loc. cit.


Latourette & Hogg, op. cit., p. 2.


Freytag, loc. cit.; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 20. The latter reported that some of the German women were in fact brought to Japan itself.


Ibid., p. 12.


William Paton and Margaret Sinclair, eds.. "Survey - The War and Missions" (Netherlands Indies), The IRM (London: Edinburgh House, January, 1943), p. 73; Hübner, op. cit., p. 6.


Klappert, op. cit. , p. 37.

Als der holländische Transportoffizier den ersten Transport in Bombay den Briten mit den Worten übergab: ‚I bring you 600 Germans, sailors and criminals‘, wandten sich die englischen Offiziere schweigend um. Der britische Armeearzt verweigerte schon nach einer nur oberflächlichen Besichtigung der zerlumpten, halbverhungerten Elendsgestalten die Übernahme. Erst mussten die notwendigen Ambulanzwagen hergeschafft werden. Das war erst nach zwei Stunden möglich. Die Deutschen wurden zum ersten Mal ordentlich verpflegt. Da sie bisher unter Androhung der strengsten Strafen gezwungen worden waren, wie ehemals die Kontraktkulis in Reih und Glied auf dem Boden zu hocken, kauerten sie sich auch jetzt in dieser Weise auf dem Boden des Hafenschuppens nieder, wo man sie zum Schutz vor der glühenden Sonne vorübergehend untergebracht hatte. Die indischen Unteroffiziere, die zum ersten Mal in ihrem Leben weiße Menschen gedemütigt sahen, wurden ganz nervös und forderten die weißen Gefangenen schreiend auf, sich zu erheben. Auch der zweite Transport kam sicher in Bombay an. Die Gefangenen wurden von den Briten nach Ramgarrh bei Kalkutta weitertransportiert.


Ibid., pp. 46-47.

Nachtrag: Spiegelartikel zum Untergang der "Van Imhoff":  0,6 MB 


Ibid., pp. 47-49.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit.. p. 3.


Hübner, op. cit. , pp. 6-7.


Freytag, (EMZ, March/April, 1942), op. cit., p. 89.


Friedrich Mack, Letter to Karl Hartenstein (Hamburg: Carla Mack's Personal Records, 1 July, 1942; Appendix).




Ibid.; in reference to the enclosed poem, Hartenstein made the note, (1. Beilage) "ist nicht angekommen."


Freytag, (EMZ, May, 1942), op. cit.. p. 122; Klappert, op. cit., 42.




Freytag, op. cit., p. 60. Ramgarh in the Hindi language means Rama's house ('garh'), Rama being one of the Hindu gods. It is easily understandable why there are more than four Ramgarhs in India and the EMZ writer picked out another Ramgarh in the Central Provinces. The Ramgarh used as the temporary camp for the German internees is located at 85.5 degrees longtitude and 23.5 degrees latitude.


Klappert, op. cit., pp. 42, 52.


Freytag, (July-September, 1943), op. cit., p. 150.


Alfons Koechlin, "Todesanzeigen - Missionar Fritz Mack" (Basel: BML, 10 July, 1943).


Alfred de Spindler, P.I. (Wasserwendi, Switzerland: 20 May, 1973). The interview was recorded, though it is not transcribed by pages.


Hübner, op. cit., p. 6.


Ibid.; Belling, loc. cit.


Hübner, loc. cit.


Klappert, op. cit.. p. 99.


Latourette & Hogg, op. cit., p. 3; Klappert, op. cit., pp. 103-105.


Basel Mission, "Todesanzeigen - Missionar Fritz Mack" (Stuttgart & Basel: Basel Mission, 1943), p. 1.


Detlef Bracker, Marlene, Eine Missionsfrau (Breklum: Verlag Missionsbuchhandlung Breklum, GmbH, 1940), pp. 66-69.


Auswärtiges Amt, Fünftes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 3.


Fritz Mack, Letter to Carla Mack (Hamburg: Carla Mack's Personal Records, 18 September, 1942).


Theodor Lorch, P.I. (Ludwigsburg: 13 April, 1973), Tr. p. 9


Basel Mission, Todesanzeigen, loc. cit.




Richard Lipp, P.I. (Sussen: 14 April, 1973), Tr. p. 3.


Koechlin, Todesanzeigen, loc. cit.


Theodor Lorch, Begegnungen in Indien (Stuttgart: Kreuz-Verlag, 1948), p. 130


Basel Mission, Todesanzeigen, op. cit., p. 2.










Koechlin, loc. cit.


Basel Mission, op. cit., p. 4.


Koechlin, loc. cit.


Ibid.; Lorch, Begegnungen, loc. cit.


Hans Huppenbauer, "Personliches aus der Missionsfamilie," Der Evangelische Heidenbote (Basel: Basler Mis-sionsbuchhandung l938), pp. 15-16.


Koechlin, loc. cit.




Lorch, Begegnungen, op. cit.. p. 131. A wedding on the Indian mission field, as in the case of the Breklum Mission couple Friedrich Hübner and Christa Roos, merely as an example, is depicted by Frau Reimer Speck in Detlef Bracker's book, op. cit.. pp. 62-63.


Carla Mack, P.I. by Telephone and Summary (Erlangen -Hamburg: 1 December, 1974).


Adolf Streckeisen, Minutes of the Emergency Meeting of the Mission Council Malabar, at Calicut (Basel: BML, 4 September, 1939).


Koechlin, loc. cit.; Lorch, P.I., op. cit., p. 8.


Richard Lipp, Minutes of 'Geschwisterkonferenz' at Calicut (Basel: BML - India File, 16 January, 1940).


Alfons Koechlin, Letter to Adolf Streckeisen (Basel: BML - India File, 26 April, 1940).






Koechlin, Todesanzeigen, loc. cit.


Friedrich (Fritz) Mack, loc. cit.


J.Z. Hodge, The War and the N.C.C. (Nagpur: NCC Offices, 31 July, 1941), p. 11.


Koechlin, Todesanzeigen, loc. clt.


Fritz Mack, Letter to Carla Tegtmeier (Hamburg: Carla Mack's Personal Records, 19 January, 1942).


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 21 February, 1942. This was their wedding date.


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 15 March, 1942.


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., Easter, April, 1942


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 9 August, 1942.


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 18 August, 1942.


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 14 December, 1942. This letter was passed by the Dehra Dun censor No. 5.


Tiedt, op. cit.. p. 11


Mack, Letter to Carla, op. cit., 8 April, 1943.


Mack, Letter to Carla, ibid., 1 May, 1943.


Carla Mack, P.I., loc. cit.; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., p. 4. In reference to the medical care at the Central Internment Camp, the Merkblatt stated: "Schwerere Krankheitsfälle werden von 2 deutschen Ärzten in dem Lagerhospital, das ausserhalb des Internierungslagers liegt, behandelt. Das Hospital besteht aus Kranken-baracken, einer Isolatlonsbaracke fur ansteckende Krankheiten, einer Baracke, in der der Operationssaal mit Sterilisationsraum, Untersuchungsraum, Laboratorium und die zahnärtzliche Abteilung untergebracht sind, und einer Spitalküche. Schwierige Krankheitsfälle, die von einem Spezialarzt behandelt werden müssen, werden in das moderne Militär-hospital nach Dehra Dun verbracht..."


Carla Mack, loc. cit.


Tiedt, loc. cit.


Carla Mack, loc. cit. The surgical sponge was the "something" mentioned in his letter of 8 April, 1943, or the "malignant tumour" assumed in his closing letter.




Tiedt, loc. cit.


J.Z. Hodge, ed., "The World in Conflict", Part 2, by A.J. Saunders, The NCCR (Mysore City: The Wesley Press and Publishing House, December, 1938), pp. 668-669.


Ibid., "The War and Peace" (Extracts from a letter by Karl Barth to a French editor, NCCR, May, 1940), p. 240.


Zum Gedenken an Fritz Mack (Stuttgart: Druck Omnitype, and Basel Mission - Stuttgart, 1943). A further poem by Fritz Mack in this work is entitled 'Geborgen' (Sheltered):

  • "Wenn mein Herze bangt und zagt,
    denk ich: - wie's auch gehe -
    Gott hat mir ja zugesagt
    Trost und seine Nähe.

  • Mitten in der Wetter Brand
    und der Stürme Toben
    reicht Er mir mit starker Hand
    Schutz und Kraft von oben.

  • Ob der Tod gar mich bedroht
    durch sein grausig Wüten:
    Gott kann mich in jeder Not,
    selbst im Tod, behüten.

  • Was mich je betroffen hat,
    was mir auch geschehe:
    Es geschieht nach Gottes Rat,
    ob ich's gleich nicht sehe.

  • Was er immer mit mir tut,
    so halt ich ihm stille,
    denn gerecht und immer gut
    ist sein heilger Wille.

  • Weich,du Herzensbangigkeit!
    Weicht, ihr grauen Sorgen!
    Bei dem Herrn der Ewigkeit
    bin ich wohl geborgen."


Magener, loc. cit.


Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit., pp. 3-11. These pages, mostly excerpts drawn from the internees' letters by the Nazi Government's censors, offer the reader a detailed and interesting description of the camp life, the activities and the conditions of Premnagar, Dehra Dun.


Ibid., p. 8. Another German internee wrote home: "Ich arbeite hier auch wie ein Löwe, in der Küche, im Eierzelt und Kaffeehaus, überhaupt alles, schreiben und lesen, beschäftige mich mit Finanzierungsproblemen und studiere indisches Handelsrecht. ... Zur Abwechslung zeichne und konstruiere ich dann Modelleisenbahnen."


Ibid., pp. 5-10.


Ibid., p. 9.


Klimkeit, op. cit., pp. 9-10; Klappert, op. cit. p. 59.


Klimkeit, op. cit., p. 10.


The Book of Jeremiah, Holy Bible. Chapter 29, verse 28.


Speck, loc. cit.


Hodge, "Tribulation and Promise in the German Church Struggle" by Karl Barth, (NCCR, 1939), op. cit., pp. 13-25. On page 18, Barth himself uses a statement "made by one who may be considered an authority: 'Germany, viewed religiously, has taken the place of Christianity. It embodies a totalitarian demand which displaces the totalitarian demand of the Bible'." William Paton & M.M. Underhill, eds., "Nazism and the Christian Mission," IRM, July, 1941, pp. 363-373. Karl Hartenstein, "The Outlook for German Missions" in World Dominion (London: World Dominion Press, April, 1936), pp. 158-159.


Hodge, War & Peace by Karl Barth, loc. cit.; Lorch, Begegnungen, op. cit., p. 36.


Tiedt, op. cit., p. 16; Borutta, op. cit., p. 8.


Freytag, (EMZ, 1943), op. cit. , p. 150.


Koechlin, Todesanzeigen, loc. cit.; Rajah B. Manikam, "List of Missionary Internees and their Addresses" (Geneva: WCCA - IMC File, August, 1944).


 Koechlin, Todesanzeigen, loc. cit.


Tiedt, op. cit., p. 11; Auswärtiges Amt, Sechstes Merkblatt, op. cit.. pp. 3, 12.


Tiedt, op. cit. , p. 8. Later in the interview, the Leipzig missionary Otto Tiedt commented; "... as a result Bräsen and I, we divided the labours; and Röver also, of course. Röver also held worship occasionally, ... (but he) used to say: 'Really, I don't know these people at all and I haven't experienced this ... (Nazi Germany)'."


Ibid. p. 10.


Ibid., p. 17; Manikam, loc. cit.


Tiedt, op. cit.. pp. 17-18.


Leseprobe aus "Der Wunder Anfang"

Von Fritz Mack

Ev. Missionsverlag, Stuttgart und Basel 1937, Seite 73 - 92

Montag, 7. Mai 1932

Es war eine schlichte Tauffeier in unserer Missionsschule in Panayur. Viele von Muthus Freunden waren anwesend, Hindus, aber auch einige Mohammedaner. Der Evangelist predigte über die "Einladung zur königlichen Hochzeit und die menschlichen Ausreden". Es war seit vielen, vielen Jahren das erste Mal, dass in Panayur wieder Taufe gefeiert wurde. Das brachte allerlei Aufregung in die Gegend, doch wurden wir bei unserer Feier in keiner Weise gestört.

Muthu wählte sich den Namen Jesudasen, Jesusknecht, die beiden Buben Vincent und George (diese Namen sind unter den syrischen Christen im Palghatbezirk sehr häufig) und die alte Mutter heißt nun Maria.

Dienstag, 8. Mai 1932

Muthus Geschichte

Die ersten Bruchstücke der Weisheit dieser Welt erhielt Muthu in unserer Missionsschule. Er muss ein begabtes Büblein gewesen sein - jetzt ist er 49 Jahre alt -, denn als er die fünf Klassen unserer Missionsschule durchlaufen hatte, schickte ihn sein Vater in das nahe Tschittur (im Cochinstaat gelegen), wo er noch einige Jahre die höhere Schule besuchte. Er konnte aber nicht alle Klassen durchlaufen, da sein Vater aus ihm einen Bauern machen wollte und ihn aus der Schule wegnahm. Er wurde Bauer, um einmal das väterliche Anwesen übernehmen zu können.

Bei der bedächtigen Landarbeit konnte er seinen Gedanken freien Lauf lassen. Immer wieder erinnerte er sich an die Erzählungen, die er in der Missionsschule gehört hatte. Immer wieder musste er an den Mann denken, der ihm in diesen Geschichten begegnete: Jesus. Und so sagte er eines Tages zu seinem Vater, er wolle Chris! werden und diesem Jesus nachfolgen. Aber der Vater war ein orthodoxer Hindu und wies den Sohn scharf zurecht. Er solle in den Büchern der Väter lesen, dann werde sein Verlangen gestillt. So fing Muthu an, in den alten heiligen Büchern zu blättern und forschte darin nach Mokscha, nach einem Weg der Rettung.

Bald glaubte er auch den Weg gefunden zu haben und machte sich auf die Wallfahrt zu allen bedeutenden Tempeln von Südindien, Er besuchte Madura, Kumbhakonam, Chittambaram, Trichinopoly, Schrirangam, Tiruvannamala, Tirupatti. Er badete in allen heiligen Teichen, er traf mit vielen Sanyasis zusammen und fragte sie nach dem Weg zur Rettung. In Tiruvannamala kam er in den Aschram eines bedeutenden Sanyasis mit Namen Ramanmaharschi. Einen ganzen Monat blieb er im Aschram und ließ sich in die Geheimnisse des "Weges" einweihen. Durch Meditation und Fasten, durch Yoga und Bhakti, durch Gespräche mit dem Guru (Lehrer) und seinen Jüngern suchte er seine Fragen und Zweifel zu klären. Umsonst. Sein Herz blieb leer.

Traurig machte er sich auf den Heimweg. Eines Sonntags kam er an einer Kirche vorbei. Viele Leute strömten in den Gottesdienst. Auch Muthu trat ein und blieb während des ganzen Gottesdienstes. Wenn ihm auch vieles unverständlich blieb, so kam doch eine unerklärliche Freude in sein Herz. Er spürte, dass nicht im Hinduismus, sondern allein bei dem lebendigen Gott der Christen Rettung zu finden sei.

Einige Zeit nach seiner Rückkehr von der Wallfahrt kam ein Missionar mit einigen Evangelisten nach Panayur. Von ihnen hörte Muthu wiederum die Botschaft vom Kreuz,  von dem Weg der Rettung, den Gott in Jesus Christus gegangen ist. Und wiederum ließ ihn die Erinnerung an die alten Geschichten nicht los. Er musste ihnen nachsinnen und es wurde ihm klar, dass auch für ihn allein in Christus Rettung zu finden sei.

Er entschloss sich, Christ zu werden und sprach offen mit seinen Freunden darüber. Doch rieten ihm diese ab. Sie meinten, er solle doch einmal ganz ernst machen mit der Religion der Väter, dann werde er gewiss Mokscha erlangen. Er solle ein Bad im heiligen Ganges nehmen, dann würden seine Sünden abgewaschen.

Sollte er diesem Vorschlag folgen? Hatten seine Freunde am Ende doch recht? Aber hatte er nicht schon vieles versucht und war immer wieder enttäuscht worden von den Versprechungen seiner Religion? Er zweifelte und schwankte. Zuletzt rang er sich zur Entscheidung durch: Ein letztes Mal wollte er alles versuchen, ob ihm die Religion der Vater Frieden und Erlösung geben könne.

Zum zweiten Male machte er sich auf die Wallfahrt, diesmal in den Norden. Zu Fuß legte er in der indischen Sonnenglut den über 2.000 Kilometer langen Weg zurück und erreichte endlich Benares, die heilige Stadt, die Stadt der tausend Tempel. Er badete im Ganges, nicht nur einmal, sondern oft und immer wieder. Nach Frieden verlangte er, doch sein Herz blieb leer und unberührt, Nach Sündenvergebung sehnte er sich, doch da war keiner, der ihm Trost zusprechen konnte. Da kam ihm eines Tages beim Baden im Ganges die Erkenntnis: Die Religion und der Tempeldienst werden allein um der Brahmanen willen aufrecht erhalten, damit diese "ihren Bauch füllen" können. Erschüttert und zerbrochen machte er sich auf den Heimweg. So hatte er sich seine Wallfahrt nicht vorgestellt. Freilich, seine Augen waren ihm nun geöffnet und er wusste, dass er im Hinduismus keine Ruhe für seine Seele finden könne.

Nach mühseliger Wanderung kam er wieder zurück in seine friedliche Heimat. Sein orangefarbenes Sanyasigewand legte er nun ab. Er hatte genug vom Wanderleben. Es hatte ihm nur Enttäuschung und öde Leere gebracht.

Zu Hause fiel ihm ein kleines Buch über Sadhu Sundar Singh in die Hände. Er las es einige Male begierig durch. Das Leben dieses Gottsuchers, der in Christus Frieden gefunden hatte, machte auf ihn einen tiefen Eindruck. Diesen Frieden, diesen Christus wollte er auch. Durch Meditation wollte er ihn erfassen, durch "Christudhyānam". Aber sein Herz blieb wiederum leer. Sobald er nach den Bildern greifen wollte, liefen sie wie Schatten aus seiner Hand. Christus - nein. Ihn kann man durch Meditation nicht erfassen. Aber Christus erfasste Muthu.

Eines Nachts hatte er folgenden Traum: Mit einigen Freunden wanderte er auf einer sonnendurchglühten Straße. Durstig kamen sie endlich an einen Mangobaum und ließen sich im Schatten nieder. Vom Baum herunter reichte ihm ein Mädchen eine große Frucht, die er begierig aß. Doch bald stellten sich heftige Leibschmerzen ein, und er bereute es, von dieser Mango gegessen zu haben. Er wollte seinen Durst stillen - und nun waren Schmerzen sein Lohn, An diesem Traum erwachte er und spürte tatsächlich Schmerzen in der Magengegend. Er stand auf und suchte nach einer Medizin. Dabei fiel sein Blick wie von ungefähr auf ein Flugblatt, das er einmal vom Missionar bekommen hatte. Zuerst sah er nur flüchtig hin - er kannte ja den Inhalt bereits. Aber die Überschrift: "Hast du teil am Himmelreich?" interessierte ihn doch und so begann er zu lesen, Und was er da las, das packte ihn. Besonders der Satz: "Wenn Christus nicht deine Gerechtigkeit geworden ist, so kannst du nicht vor Gott bestehen", ließ ihn nicht mehr los. Er saß lange wach in der Nacht - die Medizin hatte er vergessen und die Schmerzen waren vergangen - und las, und dachte nach, und überlegte, und las wieder. Als der Morgen graute war der Kampf durchgerungen, und der Entschluss stand fest: Ich lasse mich taufen!

Am andern Morgen eröffnete Muthu seiner 75jährigen Mutter, dass er Christ werden wolle und bat sie um ihre Einwilligung. Er hatte mit ihrem Widerstand gerechnet. Wie erstaunt war er aber, als ihm die Mutter antwortete: "Es ist mir eine große Freude, diesen Wunsch von dir zu hören. Vor zwei Jahren waren die Gottesboten hier und erzählten von Jesus. Dieser Name ist mir seither nicht mehr aus dem Sinn gekommen. Ich hätte es dir schon längst gerne gesagt, aber ich fürchtete, du seiest dagegen und so schwieg ich. Da ich nun diese freudige Botschaft von dir höre, so ist all mein Verlangen dieses Lebens gestillt. Ich werde mich mit dir taufen lassen." Damit stand dem Übertritt nichts mehr im Wege und Muthu konnte nach einiger Zeit der Vorbereitung mit der Mutter und seinen beiden Buben durch die Hl. Taufe in die Gemeinde aufgenommen werden.

Wie viele Wege ist doch Muthu gegangen. Sie brachten ihn nicht ans Ziel. An wie vielen Türen hat er angeklopft, aber sie blieben verschlossen. In wie vielen heiligen Wassern hatte er gebadet; seine Sünden wurden nicht abgewaschen. Ja, sein Traum war wahr. Durstig zog er auf der indischen Landstraße dahin, und die Labung, die ihm angeboten wurde, vergrößerte nur seine Qual. Aber Christus ist ihm nachgegangen durch all die Irr- und Schlingwege. Er sah das vergebliche Suchen und die verborgene Qual des Herzens. Er schenkte Muthu die Gnade, Sein Wort zu hören und dem Rufe Seiner Stimme zu folgen. So durfte auch dieser verlorene Sohn den Weg finden nach Hause.

Muthu war nach seiner Taufe ein treuer Zeuge seines Herrn. Er ist inzwischen heimgegangen.

Donnerstag, 10. Mai 1932

Ein junger Mohammedaner kam heute. Er stammt aus Nordmalabar und will Christ werden. Der Pfarrer von C. schickte ihn zu mir, weil es dort wegen der vielen Mohammedaner unmöglich ist für ihn, unerkannt zu bleiben. Und wenn die Mohammedaner entdecken, dass einer der ihren Christ werden will, so setzen sie alles daran, es zu verhindern. Sie scheuen auch nicht vor einem Mord zurück.

Der junge Mann macht mir einen guten Eindruck. Wir müssen ihn nun eben einige Zeit beobachten.

Heute ist Himmelfahrt!

Samstag, 12. Mai 1932

Gestern waren wir wieder in Velus Haus. Es waren aber nur seine Frau und die alte Mutter daheim. Sie hören uns gerne zu, aber sie wollen nicht einsehen, dass Jesus nichts zu tun hat mit all den indischen Göttergeschichten. Die indische Religiosität ist so elastisch und aufnahmefähig, dass selbst Jesus ohne Erschütterung eingereiht wird in die große indische Götterschar.

Wie kann man das Evangelium predigen, damit das Ärgernis des Kreuzes deutlich wird? Wie muss man mit dem Heiden reden, damit er vor die Entscheidung gestellt wird: Christus oder Krischna, die Bibel oder die Bhagavatgita? Diese Fragen legen sich mir bei solchen Hausbesuchen erneut schwer auf die Seele. Kein Missionar wird wohl je damit fertig werden. Doch ist die Frage der Verkündigung letztlich ja keine methodische Frage, sondern es kommt allein daraus an, ob Gott sich zu unserem Reden bekennt, bekennen kann, ob der Hl. Geist durch uns wirkt.

Dienstag, 15. Mai 1932

In der Gemeinde herrscht nun große Armut. Keine Arbeit. Aus allen Augen blicken uns Hunger und Not an. Dazu kommt noch die furchtbare Hitze und Trockenheit. Menschen und Tiere stöhnen unter der Last und Hitze des Tages, Unser Brunnen ist schon seit einigen Tagen leer, ausgetrocknet. Erst konnten wir noch Wasser haben aus dem Brunnen des Evangelistenhauses. Jetzt ist auch dort der Vorrat erschöpft. Nun muss unser Knecht fast einen Kilometer weit gehen, um einen Eimer voll zu bekommen. In den Reisfeldern gegen "Bethanien" zu ist ein Wasserloch - Brunnen kann man das nicht nennen - und dort dürfen wir nun mit Erlaubnis des Grundbesitzers schöpfen. Auch nach dem Kochen und Filtern ist es noch ganz trübe. Aber es ist doch wenigstens Wasser. Wie dankbar wird man hier für jeden Schluck! Auch beim Baden müssen wir sehr sparen und doch kann man es in dieser Hitze ohne Bad einfach nicht aushalten. Daheim würde uns mancher auslachen, wenn er wüsste, mit wie wenig Wasser wir uns "baden" müssen.

Donnerstag, 17. Mai 1932

Bei der heutigen Vorbereitung auf die Pfingstpredigt mit den Evangelisten wurde es uns deutlich, dass man nur vom Hl. Geist reden kann, wenn man Ernst macht mit der Erkenntnis, "dass ich nicht aus eigener Vernunft noch Kraft an Jesus Christus, meinen Herrn, glauben oder zu ihm kommen kann". Nur wenn wir arm sind, ganz arm, kann Gott uns seine Gaben schenken. Erst wenn wir Schiffbruch erlitten haben an unserer "eigenen Vernunft und Kraft", nur wenn wir bankrott sind mit unserer Frömmigkeit, mit unserer Religion, mit unserem "Glauben", lernen wir begreifen, dass uns der Hl. Geist mit seinen Gaben erleuchtet, uns heiligt und uns erhält im rechten Glauben.

Montag, 21. Mai 1932

Hussein Ali, der junge Mohammedaner, macht mir große Freude. Er besuchte mich bisher jeden Tag, und ich konnte ihn durch die Gespräche kennenlernen. Ich muss immer wieder staunen über seine Erkenntnis. Was braucht es doch, bis ein Mohammedaner sagen kann: Ich glaube an Jesus Christus. Wir nennen Hussein nicht bei seinem rechten Namen, damit er nicht doch irgendwie verraten wird. So rufen wir ihn Christian. Er selbst wollte sich so heißen, denn er sei nun ein "Christian!", ein Christ.

Christian stammt aus Cannanore. Sein Vater starb vor Jahren. Ein Onkel führt das väterliche Geschäft, einen kleinen Laden. Christian lebte mit seiner Mutter und vier Geschwistern zusammen. Nur etwa drei Jahre war er in die Schule gegangen, doch genügte das, um Lesen und Schreiben zu lernen - und besonders Rechnen, denn das muss jeder Mohammedaner können! Was er sonst noch brauchte fürs Leben, das lernte er auf der Straße. Die Jahre und Tage gingen dahin ohne besondere Erlebnisse. Er saß in seinem Laden, verkaufte Reis und Gewürze, ließ die vielen Menschen an sich vorüber ziehen und freute sich am Sonnenschein und am Regen. Besondere Interessen hatte er nicht. Am Freitag ging er in die Moschee, hatte seine vorgeschriebenen Waschungen und Gebete. Das genügte ihm.

Eines Tages kam Besuch ins Haus. Ein junger syrischer Lehrer hatte vorübergehend in einer Mohammedanerschule Anstellung gefunden. Ein mohammedanischer Lehrer brachte den jungen Christen ins elterliche Haus von Christian als Kostgänger. Wahrscheinlich bestand auch die stille Absicht, den jungen Christen, der in Cannanore fremd war, für den Islam zu gewinnen. Der Lehrer jedoch ließ sich durch die ungewohnte Umgebung nicht stören, sondern hielt morgens und abends seine Andacht, las seine Bibel und betete laut zu dem lebendigen, gnädigen Gott und seinem Sohne, Jesus Christus.

Den Hausbewohnern war das alles fremd, doch sie dachten nicht weiter darüber nach. Dem ältesten Sohne aber gingen die Worte ins Herz. Er musste fragen, was es um diesen Jesus sei, und da wurde auf einmal sein so zufriedenes Herz beunruhigt. Es wachte ein Sehnen und Verlangen in ihm auf, das er bisher nicht gekannt hatte. Der junge Lehrer gab ihm auf seine Fragen Antwort; doch was er da hörte, stand im Gegensatz zu seiner bisherigen Erkenntnis: Hier stand Mohammed, der den Gerechten den Himmel verspricht, dort Christus, der den Sündern gnädig ist. Welchen von beiden soll er glauben? Er fragte. Er las. Er dachte nach - oh, es war so schwer, das Denken! Er konnte die Wahrheit nicht finden. Da sagte der christliche Lehrer zu ihm: Wir wollen heute Abend darum bitten, dass Gott dir in besonderer Weise den Weg zeigt und du erkennen darfst, wo auch für dich Rettung zu finden ist.

Am Abend beugten sie ihre Knie und baten Gott um Erleuchtung. In der Nacht hatte Christian einen Traum: Eine hohe, helle Gestalt stand vor ihm und sagte mit lauter Stimme: "Glaube an den Herrn Jesus." Sofort fährt er vom Schlafe auf, doch das Zimmer ist dunkel und die Gestalt verschwunden. Aber noch klingt es in seinem Ohr: Glaube an den Herrn Jesus! und er weiß, dass Gott ihm damit den Weg gewiesen hat.

Mit der Nachtruhe ist es vorbei und den folgenden Tag verbringt er in großer Unruhe, denn es ist ihm klar, was dieser Schritt für ihn bedeutet. Er muss fort, darf sich nicht einmal von der Mutter und den Geschwistern verabschieden, denn sonst halten sie ihn fest.

Nach Einbruch der Dunkelheit verlässt er das Haus und geht zum Bahnhof, um früh am nächsten Morgen wegzufahren. Er trifft aber einige Bekannte, die ihn nach seinem Woher und Wohin fragen. Er gibt nur kurze Antworten und kehrt wieder heim.

Am nächsten Tag geht er nach dem nahen Tellitscherry, um von dort aus mit der Bahn weiter zu fahren. Da trifft er unglücklicherweise mit seinem Onkel zusammen. Er kann keinen Grund angeben, weshalb er nach Tellitscherry gekommen ist und muss wieder mit nach Cannanore zurück.

Daheim schöpfen sie Verdacht und beobachten ihn scharf. Doch ist es ihm möglich, nach einigen Tagen unbemerkt sich vom Hause zu entfernen. Nach allerlei Hindernissen kommt er endlich nach Calicut und von dort nach Vanyankulam.
So ruft Christus auch heute noch Menschen heraus aus Nacht und Unkenntnis, gibt ihnen eine Unruhe ins Herz, dass sie nach ihm fragen und suchen müssen, und lässt den hellen Schein seiner Gnade in ihr armes Leben fallen. Dies ist vom Herrn geschehen und ist ein Wunder vor unseren Augen!

Dienstag, 29. Mai 1932

Am Sonntag war ich in Cherupulascherry zu Predigt, Abendmahl und Taufe. Einer der Täuflinge, ein zwanzigjähriger Jüngling, war seit Samstag plötzlich verschwunden. Er ging vom Evangelistenhaus weg, um beim Schneider sein neues Taufhemd zu holen. Auf dem Wege traf er einen Onkel, der freundlich mit ihm redete und ihn einlud, doch noch einmal seinem Vater Lebewohl zu sagen. Der junge Mann ließ sich darauf ein und ging in sein Elternhaus. Dort waren schon einige andere Männer beisammen. Der Vater bat den Sohn inständig, doch von der Taufe abzustehen. Diese Schande soll er ihm und seiner Familie nicht antun. Der Sohn ließ sich aber nicht abspenstig machen, sondern erklärte den Anwesenden, dass sein Entschluss feststehe, nur dem Herrn Jesus nachzufolgen. Darauf griffen die Männer zu und sperrten den jungen Mann in eine dunkle Kammer. In der Nacht vom Samstag auf Sonntag nahmen sie ihn nach Mandscheri, und wie ich heute höre, wurde er dort gleich an ein noch ganz junges Mädchen verheiratet. Nun ist er ans Heidentum gekettet. Für die nächsten Jahre besteht keine Hoffnung, dass er nochmals den Versuch macht, Christ zu werden. Da muss schon Gott selbst eingreifen und ihn mit Macht herausreißen.

Es lag ein schwerer Druck auf uns allen während der ganzen Feier.

Samstag, 2. Juni 1932

Heute war ein böser Tag. Immer wieder kamen Leute mit allerlei Anliegen; die meisten wollten Geld. Dazu sollte ich meinen Vortrag fertig schreiben, den ich nächste Woche vor den Lehrern der höheren Schule in Palghat zu halten habe - und morgen habe ich Predigt.

Montag, 4. Juni 1932

Gestern hatte ich englischen Gottesdienst für die kleine angloindische Gemeinde in Shoranur; nachher Abendmahl in der Malayalamgemeinde. Am Nachmittag konnte ich meinen Vortrag fertig schreiben. Ich werde reden über: "Der christliche Lehrer und sein evangelistischer Dienst".

Dienstag, 12. Juni 1932

Endlich, endlich hat der Regen eingesetzt. Man konnte wohl schon zwei Minuten vorher das Rauschen hören. Immer näher brauste es heran, bis es auf einmal in Strömen auf unser Dach prasselte. Welch eine Erquickung! Wie kann man nun wieder aufatmen. Daß das Dach nicht ganz dicht ist und es an einigen Stellen ins Zimmer regnet, nimmt man gerne in Kauf, jedenfalls jetzt am Anfang der Regenzeit. Man wird mit einem Male wieder ein ganz anderer Mensch nach der unsagbaren Hitze und Dürre.

Dienstag,19. Juni 1932

Wenn ich nur an dem Evangelisten hier eine bessere Hilfe hätte! Ich muss immer selber schieben und treiben, Pferd und Fuhrmann zugleich sein. Das ist so schade. Es ginge alles viel leichter, wenn er auch aus eignem Antriebe heraus etwas angreifen würde. Aber er möchte gerne die alte Vorkriegszeit wieder herstellen, wo der Missionar für alles verantwortlich war, was auf der Station und in der Gemeinde zu geschehen hat. Diese Zeiten sind aber vorbei. Der Gemeindeevangelist sollte wirklich selbständig arbeiten. Das schließt ja Zusammenarbeit mit dem Missionar nicht aus.

Donnerstag, 21. Juni 1932

Den regenfreien Nachmittag benützten wir zur Marktpredigt. Wir hatten eine gute Zuhörerschaft und keinerlei Störung. Ich stehe immer mit großer innerer Unruhe vor diesen Menschenmassen. Werden sie das Wort recht hören? Können sie überhaupt verstehen, worum es geht?

Unsere Evangelisten haben doch einen ungemein schweren Dienst. Sie haben es nötig, dass sich der Missionar um sie annimmt.

Freitag, 22. Juni 1932

Fünfstündige Sitzung des Kirchengemeinderates. Wir hatten ein Ehepaar gerufen, das im Unfrieden lebt. Der Mann hat seine Frau schon oft geschlagen, sie nachts vor die Türe gesperrt und auf alle mögliche Weise misshandelt. Er klagt sie an, dass sie frech sei, ihm nicht gehorche, eine "lange Zunge" habe und alles, was sie sage, seien "grüne Lügen". Es war hoffnungslos.

Ganz gewiß liegt viel Schuld auf Seiten von Christina. Sie ist die zweite Frau und hat acht Kinder angeheiratet. Für die Kinder hat sie aber nichts übrig. Als der Mann sie einmal geschlagen hatte - wahrscheinlich war das Essen nicht zur Zeit fertig -, da lief sie einfach davon. Monatelang blieb sie weg und niemand wusste, wo sie sich herumtrieb. Nun war sie plötzlich wieder da, und die Frage entstand, ob ihr Mann sie wieder aufnehmen wolle.

Beide hatten nur Anklagen füreinander. Kein Wort der Entschuldigung, kein Wort der Verzeihung! Wir konnten nichts ausrichten, Und das Furchtbarste ist dies: Die Heiden wissen davon und zeigen mit den Fingern auf uns.

Sonntag, 24. Juni 1932

Christina lebt nun doch bei ihrem Mann. Sie erklärte sich nach der Presbyteriumssitzung auf einmal bereit, alles zu tragen, jeden Streit zu vermeiden und eine "gehorsame" Frau zu sein. Der Mann erlaubte ihr, im Hause zu wohnen, er werde ihr "sogar" das Essen geben, aber als seine Frau könne er sie nicht mehr aufnehmen. Wie wird es weitergehen?

Montag, 20. August 1932

Gestern war die Taufe von Kunji und Hussein Ali. Sie heißt nun Tschandramathi, er wählte sich den Namen Christian. Es war eine schlichte Taufe, aber man spürte doch, wie die ganze Gemeinde mit Anteil nahm an der Freude. Christian legte vor der Taufe in kurzen Worten Zeugnis ab von dem, was Christus an ihm getan hat.

Freitag, 7. September 1932

Der Schreiner Velu brachte uns gestern eine wichtige Einladung: Der Nambudiri (die Nambudiri bilden die höchste Brahmanenkaste Malabars), in dessen Hause er für einige Zeit gearbeitet und dem er von uns erzählt habe, hätte uns gerne zum Kaffee eingeladen, um uns kennenzulernen, Ob wir die Einladung annehmen würden und wann?

Solch eine Einladung ist in der Tat etwas ganz Außergewöhnliches, denn für den Brahmanen sind auch wir Europäer einfach "Kastenlose". Besonders die Nambudiris sind äußerst orthodox. Sie haben noch die alte Schulbildung, die in der Hauptsache im Auswendiglernen von Sanskritversen besteht. Deshalb tritt auch kaum einmal ein Nambudiri in den Regierungsdienst.

Nun, wir nahmen die Einladung gerne an und ließen uns auf 4 Uhr mittags anmelden, Velu wartete auf uns an einem vorher bestimmten Platz und geleitete uns dann zum Anwesen des Nambudiri.

Mächtige Banianenbäume überschatten das Eingangstor, durch das hindurch wir den Hof betraten. Gegenüber dem Hoftor lag ein breiter, zweistöckiger Bau, das Frauen-Haus, Hinter den mit starken Holzstäben vergitterten Fenstern waren einige goldbraunglänzende Körper sichtbar. Rechterhand lag das Männerhaus, aus dessen Fenstern uns viele feurige Augen beobachteten.

Der Hausherr stand schon bereit, uns zu begrüßen. Wir wurden ins Männerhaus geleitet, wo auf der oberen Veranda alle männlichen Vertreter der Familie beisammen waren, wohl an die fünfzehn. Es herrschte etwas vornehmkühle Luft. Kein rechtes Gespräch wollte aufkommen neben dem "Kuschalapraschnadikel", dem gewöhnlichen Fragen nach dem Ergehen. In einer Ecke wurden uns Stühle angeboten. Der Hausherr setzte sich in einiger Entfernung uns gegenüber, alle anderen standen um uns herum und staunten uns an. Dann wurde aus einem Messinggefäß in zwei blankgeputzte Messingbecher Kaffee gegossen. Es duftete herrlich, denn der Brahmanenkaffee ist gut. Die Becher wurden uns aber nicht etwa gereicht, sondern vor uns auf den Boden gestellt - einen Tisch gab's nicht -, damit der Brahmane nicht irgendwie mit uns in Berührung kommen konnte. Niemand trank mit uns, doch hatten wir darauf gar nicht gewartet. Auch wenn wir bei unseren Christen eingeladen sind, müssen wir allein essen, während die ganze Familie zuschaut und sich freut, wenn's uns schmeckt. Also unter dem Sperrfeuer von soundso vielen Augenpaaren tranken wir den guten Kaffee und würgten dazu einige Bananen hinunter. Damit war der erste Teil erledigt.

Meiner Frau war es schon längst unheimlich geworden unter all den vielen unreinen Männerblicken. (Wer die Brahmanen näher kennt, wird das gut begreifen.) Sie fragte deshalb, ob sie nicht die Frauen besuchen dürfe, was ihr gerne gestattet wurde.

Der Nambudiri begleitete sie selbst ins Frauenhaus, denn niemand der andern Männer darf diese Gemächer betreten, Das hat seinen Grund in der Kastenordnung der Nambudiris. Nach uraltem Gesetz darf nur der älteste Sohn heiraten, um das Familieneigentum vor Aufteilung zu bewahren. Natürlich leben auch die andern Söhne vom väterlichen Erbe, aber sie müssen ehelos bleiben. Das tut aber keiner, sondern es ist ein ungeschriebenes Gesetz, dass ihnen die Frauen der Najerkaste zur Verfügung stehen, ohne dass ihnen daraus eine legale Verpflichtung erwächst. Die Kinder, die aus einer solchen Verbindung entstehen, sind dann einfach Najer, Schudras, Nicht-Brahmanen. Im Frauenhaus wohnen also nur die Frau oder die Frauen des Familienoberhauptes - unser Gastgeber hat drei -, und wenn sein ältester Sohn schon geheiratet hat, so auch dessen Frau. Die Nambudirifrauen kommen nicht ins Freie, außer zum Bad in den kleinen heiligen Teich hinter ihrem Haus. Man kann sich ja kaum ein Bild davon machen, wie diese Menschen geistig vollkommen verkümmert sind. Sie haben nur zwei Gedanken: Ans Essen - und an ihren Mann. Meine Frau konnte ihnen etwas von Jesus sagen. Ob's verstanden worden ist?

Erst als der Hausherr wieder zurückkam, ging das Gespräch mit den Männern etwas fließender. Welch ein innerer Widerstand! Was für eine unerschütterliche Gewissheit haben doch diese Menschen. Ich kam mir vor wie ein Knabe, der mit seinem Pfeilbogen gegen ein Panzerfort schießt. Jedes Wort prallte ab, ohne auch nur den geringsten Eindruck zu hinterlassen. Ich ließ mich nicht aufs Diskutieren ein, sondern versuchte, in schlichten Worten ein Zeugnis von Christus abzulegen. So oft ich diesen Namen erwähnte, kam von den Lippen des Nambudiri ein abwehrendes "Schiwa-Schiwa-Schiwa", gerade als wollte er mit diesem Götternamen jeden bösen Einfluss meiner Worte von sich fernhalten.

Hat es einen Wert, diesen Menschen das Evangelium zu verkündigen? Hat das Evangelium Kraft, dieses Bollwerk zu überwinden? Diese Fragen steigen auf. Aber wir sind nicht zum Fragen gerufen, sondern zum Dienst. Gott hat uns berufen. Seine Botschaft auszurichten. Was Er mit unseren Worten anfängt, das ist Seine Sache.

Montag, 10. September 1932

Christina konnte doch nicht bei ihrem Mann bleiben. Bald fing das alte Elend wieder an; Schläge, böse Worte, Streit, unflätige Beschimpfungen, grobe Misshandlungen waren an der Tagesordnung. Da lief die Frau wieder davon, und die beiden sind nun endgültig getrennt.

Dieser Fall hat uns im Presbyterium lange beschäftigt. Wir fühlten, dass die Gemeinde als solche zu diesem schweren Fall Stellung nehmen muss, denn die Sache ist zu einem öffentlichen Ärgernis und groben Anstoß geworden.

Die Kirche Christi ist eine Sünderkirche. Keiner darf um seiner Sünde willen von ihr ausgeschlossen werden. Das Merkmal aber dieser Sünder ist doch dies, dass sie es wissen und bekennen und zugeben: Ich bin ein Sünder und kann allein leben aus Gottes Gnade. Bei diesem Ehepaar war aber gerade dieses Bekennen und Zugeben der eigenen Schuld nicht zu sehen. Jedes verteidigte sich bis zum äußersten und klagte das andere in den furchtbarsten Farben an. Deshalb mussten wir die beiden vorläufig vom Abendmahl ausschließen, bis sich entschieden hat, ob sie Buße tun wollen, oder ob sie ganz von der Kirche ausgeschlossen werden sollen.

Freitag, 14. September 1932

Jakob, der im März plötzlich verschwunden war, ist wieder heimgekommen. Er brachte ein Heidenmädchen mit, das er heiraten will. Das geht natürlich auf gar keinen Fall. Wir haben die beiden nun getrennt, bis das Presbyterium zusammentritt. Wie demütigend sind doch solche Erfahrungen.

Donnerstag, 20. September 1932

Gestern war ich in Pattambi, um einige einsame Christenfamilien zu besuchen und zu prüfen, ob wir nicht auch dort unter den Kastenlosen die Arbeit anfangen können. Die Regierung hat auf einem riesigen Gelände eine Musterfarm angelegt, wo durch jahrelange Versuche festgestellt werden soll, welche Reissorten und welche Art von Reisbau am ertragreichsten sind. Einer unserer Christen ist in dieser Farmaufseher. Er zeigte mir den ganzen Betrieb und gab wertvolle Erklärungen über den Reisbau.

Die Taglöhner dieser Farm sind Kastenlose. Sie haben ihr Auskommen und ihre regelmäßige Arbeit, sind also weit besser dran als die meisten ihrer Kastengenossen an andern Orten. Wie schön wäre es, wenn wir unter ihnen Eingang finden könnten!

Ich redete darüber auch mit dem Vorsteher der Farm, einem Brahmanen, und er versprach mir, den Leuten keinerlei Hindernisse in den Weg legen zu wollen. Nun, das Wort eines Brahmanen darf man nicht zu ernst nehmen! Sie sind schlaue Füchse. Übrigens ist er auch schon stark vom Synkretismus angehaucht. Er pries die Bibel und Jesus, daneben aber auch "die andern Wege", die zu Gott führen, Buddha und Krischna. Wenn sie doch offen sagen wollten: "Wir wollen nicht, daß dieser über uns herrsche,"

Am Nachmittag ging ich mit dem Evangelisten zur Kastenlosensiedlung. Wir trafen aber die Männer nicht an, da sie noch nicht von der Arbeit zurückgekehrt waren. Da» gegen liefen einige Frauen betrunken herum! Wenn dieses Laster die Menschen ergriffen hat, dann sind sie mit schweren Ketten gebunden. Aber um so nötiger brauchen sie das Evangelium.

Auf dem Rückweg trafen wir einen Herrn Patmanaben an, der auch in der Farm als Chemiker tätig ist. Er war sehr freundlich und stellte sich vor als ehemaliger Schüler einer Missionsschule. Aber natürlich, sagte er, könne er als Naturwissenschaftler keinen Schöpfer und Gott gelten lassen. "Es ist kein Gott hinter der Welt, sondern die Welt ist Gott und Gott ist die Welt. Gott ist in mir sowohl wie in jedem Baume. Es besteht kein Unterschied zwischen mir und der Außenwelt. Das All ist in mir und ich bin das All, Das ist meine Religion." Darauf sagte ich ihm: "Auf Wiedersehen, Herr - Frosch. - "Patmanaben ist mein Name", eiferte er. "Oh", sagte ich, "der Name tut ja nichts zur Sache - doch kein Unterschied besteht!"