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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

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Even in repatriation and in the final process of release, the German Missions personnel from British India were again ushered through varied, unpleasant and political activities. For among the German nationals returning on the Dutch steamer 'Oldenbarnevelt', there were businessmen (whose wives were largely in Germany), Roman Catholic nuns and priests, as well as the Lutheran missionaries - theologians, pastors, teachers, business managers, nurses and evangelists - the substance of any missionary society. Lacking the necessary invitations to serve with their own mission churches had meant their ban from India, the compulsory repatriation and the further humiliation at Neuengamme.

Christmas had been celebrated, as much space and resources would permit on the Oldenbarnevelt. The Dutch ship pulled into the Hamburg harbour to unload the latest cargo of men, women and children from the British colonies. Being the end of December, "it was in the height of winter," (1) and one of Europe's coldest winters on record. For the British colonialists of India, who themselves were far too conscious and acquainted with the problems of climate - the tropics versus the European temperatures, the search for hill-stations in the hot season and also to have appropriate clothing and' topi-hats for the heat and the sun - then to send these families into the midst of a European winter, after their seven years of internment camps, was seen as a "real meanness on the part of the English." (2) After all that which these missionary families had experienced in India, this final stage - the voyage home on the transport, the arrival at Hamburg in sub-zero weather and finally the transfer to Neuengamme - seemed like a "base act", (3) a thoughtless deed and foreign to the usual nature of British considerateness. No one could have foreseen that the winter of 1946 - 1947 would be so extremely cold, but it brought added suffering to these accustomed to the Indian climate. Otto Tiedt (Leipzig) narrated about their arrival:

... We came from a warm climate of about 40° C. We came into this cold of winter of about - 20° C. Within a matter of four weeks, we had an approximate change of 60° C. And of course we did not have any winter clothes. We weren't prepared at all for it. We only had our troop things.

And there we arrived at Hamburg! (4)

Martin Pörksen and Walter Freytag were present to welcome the missionary families. The Schleswig-Holstein Mission's director remarked, that these families had to leave practically most "everything in India. ... They brought what they had in camp. It was appalling then as they arrived. ... It was frightfully difficult," (5) considering what they had as their personal belongings and that they were permitted one cubic-metre of luggage for each person. (6) Thus, the arrival in the homeland, the experience of the extremely cold winter and the internment at the Neuengamme Camp, are remembered as practically the most brutal treatment which these men, women and children encountered in the war and the post-war period.



In the freezing winter weather, under a clear December sky, according to one missionary, "in Hamburg we were unloaded in the night." (7) Thereupon the repatriates "were loaded onto open lorries and then driven an hour through Hamburg, through all the fields of ruins in Hamburg." (8) Tiedt remembered that it was "in full moonlight, so that we could easily see everything," (9) while Lohse emphasized that it was "through darkened Hamburg which we were driven actually we could not see very much." (10) They were transported in lorries "with nothing in them - absolutely bare ('nackte LKWs'), covered with tarpaulin." (11) The cold only magnified the suffering for the women and children, as for the men; "We froze miserably, ... and then we did not know at all where it went from there." (12)

Rajah Manikam and Betty Gibson had expressed the hope to Walter Freytag in Hamburg, that in regards to the German families being processed, "... they may be released from the Transit Camp in Germany as soon as possible." (13) However, the transit camp was more than the missionaries had awaited. According to Gäbler, "we were taken to a different internment camp, a German internment camp. (14) The new transit camp was a former Nazi concentration camp situated between Neuengamme and Altengamme in the British Zone of Germany.



The very last chapter of the internment episode for the German missionaries of British India was staged at one of Adolf Hitler's Nazi concentration camps, namely at Neuengamme, a few miles from Hamburg, the British Zone. The internment narrative of these years had begun at the one-time concentration camp of Ahmadnagar in the Bombay Presidency of British India. (15) Now it was the concentration camp of Neuengamme, one of the lesser known, perhaps because it was not acclaimed as one of the "killing centers" directed "against the destruction of the European Jews." (16) Yet it claimed a record of nearly 50.000 exterminations, mostly political or prisoner of war cases from most of Germany's neighbouring countries.

Neuengamme, as its sister village to the south - Altengamme, is situated in the marshlands southeast of Hamburg. It is comparable to an island, situated in the broad valley of the Elbe river. The dikes along the south bank of the Elbe and the flat meadowed landscape behind the elevations stretch as far as Hamburg and give one the impression of Holland. In the heart of this peaceful, tranquil setting, a mere 15 kilometres from the center of Hamburg, stands the evidence of the once-powerful Nazi Government and the ideology which left such a scar upon German and world history. The concentration camp still stands, used in our times as a correctional institute for the youth of the city and the state. The city of Hamburg has constructed a memorial to the thousands who suffered and died at Neuengamme. (17)

In December, 1946, and into January, 1947, the Neuengamme concentration camp became the British transit camp for the two shipments of German nationals returning from British India. Considering the amount of damage on Germany's cities, the British authorities saw every justifiable reason for using the Neuengamme facilities as a process station. The Nazi regime had constructed the camp for that very purpose. Otto Tiedt recounted what occurred following their disembarkation at Hamburg:

Then suddenly we were once again behind barbed wire in Neuengamme. That naturally was very bitter. And there was nothing there. There were the plank-beds and some straw mattresses lay around as well. Then we were also given a blanket; nothing more! Maybe we received even two blankets. There wasn't any heating either. The water was frozen and we could hardly wash ourselves. (18)

Again "the men and women were separated;" (19)

... the women and the children, they were placed into one building. And we men, we were left in a long building simply with mattresses and we had to sleep on them. And it was frightfully cold and there was snow around. (20)

For the German families the processing phase at the Neuengamme Camp was remarkably short in comparison to their years in India. Christian Lohse remembered; "We were only there a good eight days." (21) Nevertheless, the last internment station is likely one of the best held in the memories of certain individuals. This infamous concentration camp stands out as vividly as the many detention centers of British India. Paul Gäbler added these remarks:

... We spent days and days by counting the number (of internees), standing outside. All the names were called; there was the roll call, and then we were dismissed again.

And in the meanwhile Dr. Freytag and some others came and visited us. And they asked, "Where are you going to find a place? Where are you going to live?" There had been no connections established with our relatives and friends. And so they wrote to the different places, because we were not allowed to write any letters then. (22)

Though the missionary families' sojourn at Neuengamme might be confined to a matter of days, it is still possible to categorize this closing stage into three phases:

  1. The investigations at Neuengamme by the authorities;

  2. The health problems and deaths due to the winter; and

  3. The welcome, guidance and relocation.



The German repatriatees from British India soon found themselves confronted with the task of another round of investigations of their political leanings and their past activities. Due to their arrival at Neuengamme in the holiday season, as "New Year's Eve and New Year's Day came in between, naturally in these days the British officials were not working." (23) No longer under the colonial British Raj, these men and women entered a defeated Germany and the jurisdiction of the British occupational forces.

It is understandable that the British military authorities in Germany had to process carefully the latest shipment from the colony of India. Of course, British Intelligence already had a fair knowledge of these internees. However, according to one missionary, "after seven and a half years, upon our arrival in Hamburg, at Neuengamme we were once again humiliated with sharp words. ... They had sent the files along." (24) To be sure, the German missionaries were only a small segment of the large contingent of several hundred German nationals from the Oldenbarnevelt. Yet from these missions personnel it is possible to reconstruct a picture of the investigations, the purpose of which was to rediscover the individual's political thoughts and his family relations. Gäbler gave this description:

It was the English (British) who were in charge. And along with them, there were the officers, Jews generally, who had to find out whether we were Nazis or not. These were the English, because it was in the northern Zone, ... Jewish officers ... for the investigation, since they could speak German, Jews who had of course fled. They were naturally not very kind to us. ... And there they had to grade us, whether we were innocent or however it was, ... or those who had acted as Nazis, ... all the Germans who were removed from India at that time. ... And some who had had Nazi activities, they got terrible scoldings, verbal shootings. Some of the missionaries also got these shootings. But nobody was present; they took them in one by one. But some reported, "Oh, terrible fellows!" (25)

For some of the internees Neuengamme was very much a repeat performance of Ahmadnagar of seven years earlier. Christian Lohse (Breklum) gave this commentary:

In Neuengamme it started once again with the renewed questionnaires, a questionnaire with 139 questions. ...

And there sat the German Jews. ... One had to be absolutely honest, for one did not know what they knew. They didn't know everything which you knew. Some of the internees were certainly not truthful, as they gave false answers. Yet they were released. Really some of of the leading Nazis were released then without anything happening to them. ...

I was definitely associated with some Party organization. And I did have a good friend, the son of a missions inspector, who assisted me in getting into the S.A. navy. And so I spent my time serving in the S.A. navy, perhaps for three-quarters of a year. And that I declared then. For this I was then categorized into Group 5 as a 'Mitläufer' (sympathizer). My wife had gathered a girls' group together in Treia (near Schleswig), and since there was the 'Jugendverbot', she disguised it under the B.D.M. (Bund Deutscher Mädchen). And this she declared also. But for it she was graded into Group 4, and discriminated against for it. (26)

The grading process of the investigations at Neuengamme (27) appeared to have had six categories. The first three groups (1-3) offered little chance for a person gaining immediate freedom, and likely were channelled into the denazification program. The remaining groups 4-6 signified an early release, and the missionary families all had the more favourable discriminations by the camp authorities. (28)

Karl Bareiss (Basel) also described Neuengamme:

We had to complete the questionnaires with the 133 questions. They wanted to know everything. Just a part of it I still remember; "Did you vote for the Party in 1933? " That really was quite a crafty question, which I find quite appropriate. For it I wrote at the time, National Socialist. If I had written "No', ... he then would not have believed me, and I happen to he an honest person. It was quite clear; they knew that much. And today I am ashamed of myself for what I then did, hut I did not lie to them.

And six times we had to fill out the questionnaires - who your father was, your grandfather, your great-grandfather. They only wanted to make sure that no one had made any false statements. ... Everything had been written down. And as we came to Neuengamme, we were once more humiliated with sharp words. ... There was an English lieutenant, and he roared at me. He was terribly impolite, because I as a German in a foreign country had not expressed myself against Hitler. Yet they did release me from Ahmadnagar for a few months. ... It was quite interesting that after 7½ years, they reproached me then for what I had stated earlier. In the end that is what I told the lieutenant at Neuengamme. I had not preached this from the pulpit. ...

I also told him that I had never signed the record of the Darling Commission; "... as you please, hut that which you hold there against me, that I definitely did not sign, as you now attempt to distort." Then only did he quiet down.

Then my wife came before him. He upset her completely, because she had been a teacher in Augsburg at a 'Mutterschule' before our engagement and marriage. It was most ridiculous. ... (29)

In defense of his patriotic attitude, Bareiss added:

One is born in Germany, one grows up there and then one goes out (to India). Then one hears that Germany is at war, and one has to fold one's hands, as was the case there. You have to search out the positive aspects, since you do not know about the horrors in Germany, certainly not to that extent. I had been hones and that one could not hold against me as evil, for otherwise they would not have let me out for those six months. (30)

Nineteen months following the collapse of the Third Reich, or seven years after Ahmadnagar, the investigations of Neuengamme renewed the unpleasant memories, and all because they were not invited back by their mission churches. Paul Gäbler offered this personal sketch of the hearings:

It was funny then. I came with my wife. She had to go in for herself with our Ulrike, who was 14 or 15. Then the officer asked our girl first, "Has she been in H.J.?" And she asked my wife, "What is H.J., Mutti? I don't know anything about H.J." That was the (Hitler) youth organization. Then of course they realized we had been in camps in India since 1939, that we had nothing to do with the whole thing. And there was no difficulty; and we got through the thing quickly. (31)



At the Neuengamme Concentration Camp, scarcely anything could compare to the torturous, cold temperatures which saturated the internees' bodies and minds, and so shortly after their return from the tropics. The consequence of these days at the transit camp was the heavy toll on the German families, in particular on the children and the babies. With a few exceptions, the missionary families would have preferred to remain in India. Renate Klimkeit (Gossner), though remaining in India, commented on those frightening days;

... we received letters from the wives in Germany. "Be happy that you can stay out there, for in Germany there is hunger and cold weather. ..." And many of ( them wrote to us, "Just be grateful for the fact that you can stay there with your many children, as we have freezing weather, ... and we have little to eat." (32)

Martin Pörksen also remembered the arrival of the German Missions personnel, among whom were the six Breklum families. With Walter Freytag he visited these returnees from India;

We came to the camp and we welcomed them; we spoke to them (about the conditions). ... They were in the barracks, ... and there were also their children. ... But many of the children simply became ill. Yet we could not get them out. ... Professor Freytag and I came into the camp, ... and we at least realized then that we had to get the babies into hospitals.

We informed the commandant, "We have a room ready for them.' However the commandant answered, 'I don't have to be pressured by you. Who lost the war, you or we?" (33)

The rampant illnesses of colds and pneumonia, and the death of one of the missionary children, became the overriding reason for the immediate processing of these re-patriatees. Christian Lohse (Breklum) gave this personal account regarding his family's predicament:

It was as follows: Of our children, my youngest daughter became ill. And Martin Pörksen found a way somehow for us, and he conveyed this to the commandant. And so our daughter, with our youngest son, came to my sister in the hospital, ... because they had to be put up somewhere. There were quite a number of children ill and so they rushed matters a bit, so as to release the families. We came out rather quickly. (34)

Likely the most agonizing story from Neuengamae was the unexpected death of an innocent missionary child. Often death alone is the primary mover of many officialdoms. This time, under the British authorities, a further death was registered at the concentration camp. Renate Klimkeit gave this narration of her colleagues:

Regarding Dr. (and Mrs.) Wolff, their one and only son, who was born after many years of marriage, raised in the heat of India's climate, got pneumonia in Hamburg and died. He was their only child; ... they had been married for quite some time before a son was born to them. ... Later though they were blessed with a daughter. (35)



No single person was as important and as influential as Dr. Walter Freytag in the direction given the German families returning from India. As Chairman of the German Evangelical Mission Council (DEMR) situated in Hamburg, Freytag, along with Martin Pörksen and other Missions leaders, visited Neuengamae on more than one occasion in the Christmas holiday season of 1946 - 1947. Pörksen's endeavours for the missionaries' children were remarkable feats in themselves.

Freytag first appeared at the concentration camp with Betty Gibson's letter containing a list of the missionary families repatriated. (36) It was certainly an assurance for the British authorities, that the I.M.C. had expressed its trust and confidence in this Missions statesman. And once the investigations and the discriminations of Neuengamme had been carried through to their accomplished goals, Freytag, Pörksen, Dr. Thade, Martin Witte and other leaders were better able to process these families. (37) In spite of the list sent to Freytag, "he was not exactly sure who had remained out (in India) and who had come along." (38) Otto Tiedt (Leipzig) remembered Freytag's visit:

"We were really still completely uninformed, so he gave us an excellent presentation regarding the situation in Germany, how things now appeared and how we had to conduct ourselves. He gave us these guidelines. Really it was admirable of him. ..." (39)

The German families were informed concerning the "guidelines in relationship" (40) to the Allied authorities, to the new order in the country with the four different zones and to the difficulties already arising between the Russians and the three Western powers. (41)

Following World War II, Freytag corresponded steadily with Betty Gibson of the I.M.C. On January 24th, 1947, Freytag wrote to her regarding the fate and the approximate addresses of those families released in that month:

Dear Miss Gibson, … The addresses of the returned missionaries from British India will change in the next weeks. The missionaries of the Gossner and Leipzig Mission are in the Western Zone, and it is not yet decided who of them will go to the Eastern Zone. I think it is the best way if you will send the parcels to the missionary headquarters.

That is for the Breklum Mission:

(Rev. Walter Ahrens, Rev. Friedrich Hübner, Rev. Christian Lohse, Rev. Reimer Speck, Rev. Wilhelm Bräsen, Miss Lene Langlo), c/o Breklumer Mission, Breklum bei Bredstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, Britische Zone.

Gossner Mission:

(Miss Irene Storim, Rev. Wilhelm Radsick, Rev. (T.) Jellinghaus, Rev. Otto Wolff), c/o Pastor Dr. Thade, Hope-Eickel, Kr. Lübbecke, Britische Zone.

Basel Mission:

(Rev. Kling, Rev. Bareiss, Rev. Lorch, Rev. Ertz), c/o Baseler Mission, Stuttgart, Heusteigstrasse 34, Amerikanische Zone.

Leipzig Mission:

(Rev. Otto Tiedt, Rev. Wolfgang Gerlach, Rev. Paul Gäbler, Rev. Johannes Weinert). c/o Pastor Witte, Hackenstedt, Post Holle (Hannover), Britische Zone.
Miss Hildegard Storm, c/o Duisburg-Beek, Nordstrasse 46, Evangelisches Pastorat, (Brit. Zone). (42)

Freytag's letter confirmed the fact that the missionary families from India, finally after the many years, had been released by the British authorities. His letter simultaneously indicated, that in spite of the Gossner Mission's headquarters being in Berlin and the Leipzig Mission's in Leipzig, both in the Russian Zone, all addresses in the interes of the missionaries were located in the British and the American Zones. Gradually these clergymen, with their families, would be absorbed into the state churches as the parish positions became available.

The departure of the above-listed German missionaries from the Neuengamme Concentration Camp near Hamburg was the very last 'cantonment' and the final detention in the long narrative of the German Missions personnel from India. These internment years were not devoted to the preaching of the Christian Faith to the Indian people; neither did these missionaries, with one or two exceptions, have another chance to see active service in the mission churches of India. By the guidance of others and the leading of God, these who were repatriated to Germany and banned from India found a ministry with the revitalized German Church of the post-war era.



It would be an incomplete study were one to abruptly leave the internment tale of woe and ennui on the note that those returning on the steamship 'Oldenbarnevelt' were released from a Nazi concentration camp. Some brief sketches might add meaning to this chapter on the relocation and the Christian ministry of these once-active missionaries of India. Once as resourceful leaders, teachers, evangelists, language specialists and pastors of the mission church ventures, in their homeland they began a new life and entered the parish ministry. For over seven years much human kindness and personal considerations had been deprived them. Meanwhile at home they received acceptance and recognition for what they were and for what they had achieved in India. They were obviously classified as ineligible for release, a contrast to those who were "eligible for release." (43) The years of internment were already a form of ineligibility, a pre-mature banishment or seclusion imposed by the British Raj; but even more disconcerting for the German missionaries was the knowledge that they had in essence been excommunicated from the mission churches which they had served and had loved so dearly.

In Germany these men and women found a world of approval again, what might be seen in two spheres:

1. Called to serve as pastors in the German Church, and

2. Welcomed by their State Church in special services.

It would be a consuming study in itself to review the beginnings of each person's re-entrance into the active ministry with the German Church. Thus, two missionaries might be drawn out as purely symbolic of the others who also faced the same conditions and trials after the years in India.

The Rev. Dr. Paul Gäbler, once the President of the Leipzig Mission work in India and not invited back by the mission church, told of his departure from Neuengamme:

The next morning we had to leave, my family and I; we had to leave for Hannover. And it was not very pleasant; so many people crowded into the trains, and with everything so desolate. Hamburg; everywhere ruins; bombed out houses. And it was the same in Hannover.

My family was divided into three parts. And after six weeks I became a pastor in the Hannover (State) Church. Then our family was reunited again. But it was a terrible winter at that time; such high snow and we had rather thin clothing. I got the parsonage which was offered to me; a vacancy! But there were no potatoes, no fuel, no coal nor wood to burn. But fortunately in Oesselse they had a small forest which belonged to the church, and there was a tremendous oak which the congregation cut down in the deep snow. Oesselse was near Hannover, and there we were till the end of 1950. (44)

The Rev. Christian Lohse of the Breklum Mission in the State of Schleswig-Holstein gave a parallel sketch, and spoke of his start at Joldelund as

"... a deputation missionary for the Breklum Mission. At first I went to Joldelund for ten years, In Joldelund they were very sensible. They at once placed the use of the meadow at my disposal. One of my relatives in agriculture, one of my uncles, gave us a cow to use. So there was milk on the table. I had all these relatives who were farmers, and they certainly were industrious. We also had the bread rations. In Joldelund all these things were remarkably very, very simple." (45) 

As a pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Lohse served to his retirement in 1972 at the Schwesing parish.

Another aspect of the approval and the acceptance of the men and women from the Indian mission fields began by the welcome extended by the German Missions leaders. Freytag, Pörksen, Thade, Witte and others had assisted the repatriatees in locating pastorates and duties in the State Churches. As overwhelming and thereby evoking renewed spirit for them were the welcoming services held by the various missionary societies. For whether it was the Basel Mission in the Stuttgart area, the Breklum Mission in Schleswig-Holstein and the Gossner and Leipzig Societies in the British Zone, a gratitude to God was expressed for the safe return of these men and women. One such welcoming occasion, held by the Leipzig Society, might help to convey the joyous spirit over their missionaries' arrival. Many factors and much effort, as a background, went into the preparations.

Pastor Martin Witte, a Leipzig missionary to the Tamil Church until the spring of 1939, was one of the church leaders in Freytag's welcoming committee. Witte had a small parish in the towns of Hackenstedt-Sottrum, though because of the concern for and the contact with his colleagues from India, the parish church took on added significance in the Leipzig Mission life. Witte related:

I was released, so to speak, from a salary of the Leipzig Mission, and the Hannover State Church employed me under a contract as a missionary in Hackenstedt. ...

In May, 1945, I returned (from the war) to the parish at Hackenstedt and founded the central location for the Leipzig Mission in northwest Germany at Hackenstedt, which today is at Hildesheim. (46)

Due to Witte's acquaintance with the Indian mission work, his ecumenical contacts with non-Germans in India and at Tambaram, as well as his association with Dr. Hanns Lilje, the future Bishop of the Hannover State Church, many missions personnel from far and near were sent to him.

... We also came to prepare for those who were now returning home from India and Africa. They were not the ones banished from the East (lost German States), but those expelled from the mission fields and foreign lands. What was to happen to them if they arrived here in tropical clothes? As a matter of fact, they did ar rive in January, 1947, with all their tropical clothing in the cold of winter at Hamburg. ...

In February we held a welcoming service in our parish of Hackenstedt, in the church at Sottrum, for Gäbler and Gerlach (and Weinert), they who had recently returned from India. And Tiedt was also among them. And the worship service of welcome in Sottrum was, so to speak, a confirmation of the soundness of this enterprise at Hackenstedt, serving as a central location. (47)

Upon his release from Neuengamme, Otto Tiedt had journeyed first to a friend, Herr Knorr, in Bessingen, near Hameln, (48) where he "literally thawed out." (49) Tiedt added:

And then I still remember, a few days later we received an invitation, that we should come to a certain place. ... There the State Bishop Marahrens had arranged a grand welcoming service for those Leipzig missionaries returning home. It was held in a village church near Hildesheim.

This much I can confirm, that it was a wonderful worship service. It thrilled us immensely. The church was really completely filled. ... Some of the people even had to stand outside. The balconies were packed; I can still see them today. I glanced up and thought then, I hope the balconies do not collapse.

For the occasion Marahrens gave an excellent sermon; and in the church he greeted us as the returning missionaries. Frankly this worship service I shall never for-get. (50)

Of course, Witte also was responsible for the preparations surrounding the missionaries' welcome. He confirmed that

... the elderly Bishop August Marahrens, the first Bishop of the Hannover State Church, conducted the welcoming service in Sottrum, and he delivered the sermon. ... August Marahrens was then still Bishop. Yes, Lilje first became the State Bishop in May, 1947. (51)

At the conclusion of the welcoming service there was just as great a surprise and an outpouring of Christian love and kindness for these missionary families who had suffered the years of internment and seclusion from friends. Tiedt's words described this closing scene:

Following then there was a fellowship hour. He (Marahrens) had to leave, ... but there were others. He had provided for us; he knew that we had brought very little, only a suitcase and little else. All the other things we had to leave in India. He had appealed to the congregations; 'Our missionaries have come home. Please help provide for them. They have little or nothing; ... collect your extra things together.' There were also the children; the Welnerts had small children as well.

And in that room the large tables were completely covered. There it all lay, mounted up, everything imaginable, even undershirts and underparts, etc. It really was a moving sight. To this day I shall never forget it. (52)

There was much else which these German missionary families from British India would never forget and their memories often remain as the only source. Much more has already been forgotten, which will also never be recorded for Missions history. Yet through the memories of these men and women, and through the material available in the form of letters, records and printed memorabilia, there was just cause and abundant substance to research into the narrative of the internment of German Lutheran families in British India during and following World War II. Out of the account the case of nationalism repeatedly overshadowed the individual's Christian imperative of brotherly love and sacrifice, and herein existed the threat to and the crisis in Christian Missions.



(1) Renate Klimkeit, P.I. (Bierde, near Minden: 23 August, 1973), Tr. p. 17.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Otto Tiedt, P.I. (Erlangen: 27 September, 1973), Tr. p. 20.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Martin Pörksen, P.I. (Hamburg: 24 August, 1973), Tr. p. 13.

(6) Christian Lohse, P.I. (Husum: 18 July, 1972), Tr. p. 12.

(7) Ibid.. p. 13.

(8) Tiedt, loc. cit.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Lohse, loc. cit.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Tiedt, loc. cit.

(13) Betty D. Gibson, Letter to Walter Freytag (Geneva: WCCA-IMC File, 15 November, 1946).

(14) Paul Gäbler, P.I. (Erlangen: 9 November, 1970), Tr.p. 1.

(15) C.H. Swavely, ed., "The Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church 1845" by Joel Lakra, The Lutheran Enterprise in India (Madras: At the Diocesan Press"J 1952), pp. 71-72. According to the publication, the Gossner Church leader Lakra regarded the British camps as such; "As the result of the war, all the missionaries except Rev. J. Stosch, Miss Diller and Miss Schmidt, were taken to concentration camps." Or, "Government remembered that German missionaries were yet out of the concentration camps." (p. 72).

(16) Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967), p. 573.

(17) Photographs by writer; Appendix.

(18) Tiedt, loc. cit.

(19) Lohse, loc. cit.

(20) Gäbler, loc. cit.

(21) Lohse, loc. cit.

(22) Gäbler, loc. cit.

(23) Tiedt, op. cit., p. 21.

(24) Karl Bareiss, P.I. (Ebingen: 23 May, 1973), Tr. p. 7.

(25) Gäbler, loc. cit.

(26) Lohse, loc. cit. Christian Lohse's reference to the 'Jugendverbot' points out the emphasis which the Nazi regime placed upon the girls joining the 'Bund Deutsche Madchen' (BDM), or upon the youth participating in the 'Hitler-Jugend' (HJ). Obviously the forbidding of the German youth to participate in certain church activities, the CVJM (YMCA), etc., removed any serious competition.

(27) Gäbler, loc. cit.

(28) Lohse, loc. Cit .

(29) Bareiss, op. cit., pp. 7-8.

(30) Ibid., p. 9.

(31) Gäbler, op. cit., p. 2.

(32) Klimkeit, loc. cit.

(33) Pörksen, op. cit., p. 10.

(34) Lohse, op. cit., pp. 13-14.

(35) Klimkeit, loc. cit.

(36) Gibson, loc. cit.

(37) Gäbler, loc. cit.; Walter Freytag, Letter to Betty D. Gibson (Geneva: WCCA - IMC File, 24 January, 1947); Martin Witte, P.I. (Betzendorf: 20 July, 1972), Tr. p. 12.

(38) Tiedt, loc. cit. In spite of Betty Gibson's letter to Walter Freytag, Tiedt felt that Freytag wanted to confirm the list of the mission families who had arrived home.

(39) Ibid.

(40) Pörksen, op. cit., p. 9.

(41) Witte, op. cit., pp. 1-2; Tiedt, loc. cit.

(42) Freytag, loc. cit.

(43) Rajah B. Manikam, Letter to Betty D. Gibson (Geneva: WCCA - IMC File, 20 August, 1946).

(44) Gäbler, loc. cit.

(45) Lohse, op. cit., p. 14.

(46) Witte, op. cit., p. 11.

(47) Ibid., p. 12.

(48) Tiedt, op. cit., p. 22.

(49) Ibid.

(50) Ibid.

(51) Witte, loc. cit.

(52) Tiedt, loc. cit.


Entnazifizierungsakten des Lagers Neuengamme

Im Staatsarchiv Hamburg befinden sich nur die vom ehemaligen Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung geführten Vorgänge. Diese Überlieferung enthält Akten der Personen, die nach 1945 in Hamburg lebten bzw. hier eine Berufstätigkeit ausüben wollten. Entnazifizierungsunterlagen im Staatsarchiv betreffen nur die Gruppe IV und V (minder belastet und unbelastet).

Die Kategorien I, II und III befinden sich in England: Public Record Office Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4 DU

Zwecks Ermittlung von E-Akten werden folgende Angaben benötigt:

  •  Name und Vornamen
  •  Geburtsdatum
  •  Sterbedatum

Die gesetzliche Schutzfristen für diese Akten laufen 90 Jahre nach der Geburt bzw. 10 Jahre nach dem Tod aus. Die Einsichtnahme findet im Lesesaal (geöffnet: Mo/Di 10-16 Uhr, Mi 10-18 Uhr sowie Do/Fr 10-16 Uhr) statt.

Per Email können auch der Fragebogen und die Eingruppierung angefordert werden:

  •  Christina Ahrens
     Staatsarchiv Hamburg
     Abteilung Ressortbezogene Archivische Aufgaben
     Kattunbleiche 19
     22041 Hamburg
     Tel: +49 40 428 31 31 12

Ein Beispiel für das Ergebnis der Entnazifizierung und dem Fragebogen finden Sie hier:

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