1st June 1900 – Birth of Hermann Thür – Catholic, Protestant, Jew – Persecuted Pastor and Norfolk Clergyman #otdimjh

Hermann Alois Anton Thür was an Austrian, a Jew, a Catholic monk and priest, a Protestant Pastor, Anglican Vicar and Holocaust survivor. Today would have been his 120th birthday. He is one of a generation of “Jews in the Pew” whose lives and ministries were dramatically altered by the rise of National Socialism and the Second World War, many of whom are still unknown to the present generation of Jewish disciples of Yeshua, yet whose very existence and survival challenges us to learn from them and follow in their footsteps. What surprises me about Hermann Thür is how little we know about him, and how his life was lived without publicity or renown, but as a humble servant of God and others.

Matzleinsdorf, Vienna

Hermann Thür (old German – “door” ) was born in Matzleinsdorf near Melk (Lower Austria), in the region of Vienna. See below the video of a pageant in 1909, in which he may well have participated.


At the age of eighteen he took his final school examinations at the Schottengymnasium in Vienna.  After six month’s military service he became a novice in the Benedictine abbey which was part of the  attached to the to the Institutde in Vienna  where he studied from1919-1922 Catholic theology, and spent time in (1920/1921) in Rome. He was ordained in 1922 and was a cantoral priest (1922/1923). In 1924/1925 he undertook further studies in history, at the Faculty of Arts.

I would love to know more about his change from being a Catholic to Protestantism from  1926–1929 when he became a Protestant minister. He joined the  Lutheran Church and studied at the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Vienna. In 1929 he served as an assistant minister and from 1930 was pastor in Kapfenberg.[1] [2]

He was elected pastor on October 12, 1930 in Kapfenberg (by the congregation)[3] and officially appointed (by the church leadership) on January 28, 1931.[4]

Ordained on 1.3.1931 in Villach.[5]

When he was asked by the OKR[6] to prove his (purebred) Aryan ancestry, he was unable to do so.[7] He was one of two Styrian pastors could not provide an exclusively Aryan family tree.

Thür (Thur) in Kapfenberg and Dr. Wölfel (Woelfel) in Fürstenfeld. One of them had to leave the Austrian church and country, the other was permitted to remain under exceptional conditions.

Since January 1931 he had been a pastor in Kapfenberg.  After the invasion of German troops on March 12, 1938 and the “annexation” of Austria to the “Reich”, the Austrian Church also demanded “pastoral evidence” from its pastors.  Already on May 11, 1938, the responsible superintendent Heinzelmann asked Hermann Thür for the relevant evidence.

On July 4, 1938, the latter replied: “For my wife [Hilda Theodora] , proof is readily available;  I can provide proof on my mother’s side, but not on my father’s side.  It was immediately clear to me that this would no longer be enough for the Evangelical Church in Austria. 

“I was therefore on March 17th of the year at the church headquarters in Vienna and the Superintendent Dr.  Eder explained the situation to me personally.  He specifically instructed me to remain calm in office for the time being and from here to establish ties with foreign countries.  [..] I will of course resolve my relationship here as soon as possible to remain in office.” 

He was greatly pressured by the pastor, Karl Hubatschek, a fanatical National Socialist who had left the church in 1942.  Thür also did not expect any support from the senior church leader Spanuth. 

The latter wrote to Superintendent Heinzelmann: “May I allow myself the suggestion: ask not only about his [Thürs’] but especially about his wife’s ancestry;  she looks even more Jewish than he looks” So Hermann Thür only had to ask the church authorities for a grace period. 


On January 17, 1939, he wrote to Elder Spanuth: “Could you set it up so that I have a certain amount of leeway?  I would suggest, for example: I quit my position in the pastorate on March 1st.  If I should be ready to travel before this day, I would go on vacation for the rest of the time.  It goes without saying that I will not pay for this vacation.”

Hermann Thür resigned on January 31, 1939 and followed Bishop Bell’s invitation to England.   He was exempted from internment as an “enemy alien” and worked as assistant minister at St Saviour’s Brockley in South London. His details from the 1939 registration show him as “Assistant Priest, St Saviour’s” as his wife Hilda’s profession as “unpaid domestic duties”.

He became a member of the Church of England in 1939, was an assistant pastor in St Saviour’s Brockley Hill from 1940 to 1941, then in Wandsworth in London from 1941 to 1951.  He now called himself Hermann Thur. 

From 1951 to 1980, Hermann Thur was Vicar) was in the parish of Paston west of Knapton in the county of Norfolk.

His wife Hilda Theodora, was born on 25th September 1903, died at the age of 71, in 1974. I have not found any details of relatives or children.

Hilda Thur’s gravestone in Paston – photo Nicholas Bardswell
Hermann Thur’s gravestone in Paston – photo Nicholas Bardswell
Sun Court Nursing Home

Hermann died on 20th December 1984, in Sun Court Nursing Home in Sheringham, Norfolk, a few miles up the coast from his beloved church in Paston, at the age of 84.

Prayer and Reflection

Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Yet Hermann Thür does not fit these categories, except that he was born into a world of turbulent times, and was faithful to his calling as a minister of the Good News of the Messiah wherever he was. I am curious to know his inner life of faith, his reasons for the choices that he made, and the impact and legacy of his life and ministry.

Thanks be to God for his servants!

With special thanks to Rev. Heribert Binder in Austria for his help with research, and Nicholas Bardswell for photos and information from Paston, Norfolk

Main source: “Evangelisch Getauft – Als “Juden” Verfolgt – Baptised as Protestants: Persecuted as Jews”.

Quelle / Source: RAMPLER Herbert,

Evangelische Pfarrer und Pfarrerinnen der Steiermark seit dem Toleranzpatent

Hgg. von der Historischen Landeskommission für Steiermark, XL. Bd., im Selbstverlag,

Graz, 1998

Protestant Clergy in Styria since the Tolerance Patent (Declaration of Tolerance) (1998)

Ed. by the Commission for History of the Federal State Styria, vol. XL., Graz: Self-publishing

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16th May 1905 Birth of Werner Georg Kümmel, Giant of New Testament Scholarship, 3/8 Jewish #otdimjh

When I began studying Theology in the 1970s Werner Kümmel’s encyclopedic “Introduction to the New Testament” was a formidable tome to master when cutting one’s teeth in the standard first essay on the Synoptic Problem – the relationships, relative dating, and authorship of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

9780334007135: Introduction to the New Testament - AbeBooks ...

I little realised that Kümmel was a Jewish disciple of Yeshua, or at least, according to the Nurermberg Laws passed by the National Socialists, 3/8 Jewish. Whilst  he came from a German family famous for its learning in the arts and sciences, and his father before him was a pioneering  researcher in medicine, Kümmel’s paternal grandfather, historian Heinrich Ulmann, was fully Jewish, and his wife reckoned as “half-Jewish”. His mother was born before his grandparents ‘converted’ and was not baptised till later.

According to the National Socialists, his mother was 75% “non-Aryan” and he was  three-eighth’s Jewish.  He was therefore not a “half-Jew”, but stood according to the division of the Nuremberg breed laws from September 1935 somewhere between “first-degree hybrid” and the “second-degree hybrid” –  mixed race (mischling), permitted to have German citizenship – but  under suspicion and most likely unable to teach in a university.

All this was unknown and unimportant  to Kümmel until the Nuremberg  laws came into force in  1932.  It certainly did not play a role in his decision to accept the chair of New Testament Studies at Zurich University in Switzerland.  If Kümmel had stayed in Germany, he would have been a staunch supporter of the Weimar Republic and a supporter of the »German Democratic Party«. His appointment in Switzerland meant that he escaped persecution from the Nazis, but his academic colleagues and rivals in the German theological world saw to it that he was prevented from  receiving  the honours and recognition  his work rightly deserved.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT according to its major witnesses ...

Kümmel’s academic career was nurtured in the highest echelons of German scholarship, where it led the world in biblical studies. He studied Protestant Theology in Heidelberg, Berlin and Marburg from 1923 to 1928, graduating in Heidelberg.  In the winter semester of 1925/1926, he took part in Rudolf Bultmann’s New Testament seminar on the “Anthropology of Paul”.  In 1928 Martin Dibelius in Heidelberg  supervised his doctorate with a thesis that was published as a book a year later in expanded form under the title “Romans 7 and the Conversion of Paul”.  With this outstanding work, which is still valid today, an important career as a New Testament scholar began.  After the two theological exams and a subsequent study visit to England, Kümmel worked as an assistant to Prof. Hans von Soden in Marburg and in 1932 was appointed Professor for New Testament in Zurich, Swtizerland, avoiding possible later persecution by the Nazi state. 

New Testament by Werner G. Kummel, S.M. Gilmour, H.C. Kee ...

In the autumn of 1933 Kümmel intervened in the dispute over the introduction of the Aryan paragraph in the German churches which prevented Jewish Christians from employment.  He not only signed the New Testament declaration “New Testament and the Racial Question” formulated by the Marburg faculty, which rejected the Aryan paragraph, but at the request of Rudolf Bultmann circulated a letter and asked 70 New Testament students in Europe and America to sign the declaration.  He and his Zurich colleague G. Schrenk  thus risked that they would never again be appointed to a German professorship, and at the same time they endangered their German citizenship. 

Tübingen’s New Testament professor Gerhard Kittel ran the “Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas” (Society for New Testament Studies) in consultation with the Reich Education Ministry and excluded Kümmel from membership in 1938.  “I hope that it will be possible to drop out two particular New Testament scholars, one of whom is a half-Jew and the other a German emigrant and a dedicated Barthian,” wrote Kittel in a report to the Reich Ministry of Education in December 1938.  In February 1939 he then reported: “For Switzerland, the specialist representative of Basel (Marxist, emigrant) and one of the two Zurich specialist representatives (half-Jew) was eliminated” (Bormann, 436f.).  Professors Karl Ludwig Schmidt and Werner Georg Kümmel were meant.  Kittel’s attempt did not succeed, and Kümmel’s name nevertheless appeared on the final invitation list for the planned general assembly in England, which had to be postponed due to the war.  In a somewhat belated reaction Kümmel was elected president of the “Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas” in 1963/1964. 

kummel werner georg - man in the new testament - AbeBooks

With the beginning of the war, German emigrants became more worried that neutral Switzerland would also be occupied by Germany and exposed to the same persecution.  Kümmel had joined the exile working group “Das Demokratische Deutschland”, of which he was temporarily a member.  The German consulate general in Zurich put massive pressure on Kümmel and asked him to volunteer for the German Wehrmacht.  He then asked for his part to tell him what had happened to his mother’s sister, who was transported to Theresenstadt in September 1942, where she died after a few months.  He received no answer, but was not able to follow this up.  Kümmel returned to Germany in 1951. Kümmel died July 9, 1995 in Mainz.

Reflection and Prayer. No serious student of the New Testament can be unfamiliar with the contribution of Werner Kümmel to the academic discipline, but few would realise his Jewish background and the danger this posed for not  only his professional career but also his life  and safety. For me as a Jewish disciple of Yeshua illustrates how fragile life is, how often Jewish Christians life in the interstitial space between the two faith communities, and how much they contribute. Kümmel may never have chosen to identify as Jewish, even though it may have been held against him and lead to threats and opposition against him. But his work speaks for itself, leaves its own legacy, and sheds the light of faith and truth on his Messiah Yeshua.

Baruch Attah Adonai Eloheynu Melek Haolam… SheChalak MeChachmato LeYire’av

   העולם שחלק מחכמתו ליראיו ה’ אלקינו מלך ברוך אתה

Blessed are You, O LORD our God, who has imparted some of his wisdom to those who fear Him.

Sources – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_K%C3%BCmmel

Eberhard Röhm in

First of six pages of Kümmel’s writings

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15 May 1918 Birth of Hannelore Hansch – “Courage Proved” – theologian, freedom fighter, shielder of Jewish escapers: #otdimjh

RESISTANCE: Kauflein, Angela Borgstedt, Prof. Dr.  Reinhold Weber (head of the series, from left) at book presentation.  Photo.  Frankle

Hannelore Hansch (* 15. May 1918 in Cologne , † 17th November 2007 in Karlsruhe-Durlach ) was a German Protestant minister, Jewish victim of the Nazi regime and member of the Confessing Church .

As a “half-Jew”, Hannelore Hansch was subjected to harassment by the Nazi regime, could not finish her studies in Protestant theology, and had to marry her “Aryan” husband abroad in 1938 because of the Nazi racial laws.

Despite the reprisals, the Rittnerthof (country house), which she and her family ran, was a meeting point for members of the “Confessing Church” during the years of the tyranny and the Second World War and for an opposition discussion group, which mainly consisted of lawyers such as the Durlach judge Gerhard Caemmerer. The manor house on the Turmberg was also a refuge for the racially persecuted. In 1943, Hannelore and her husband Kurt Hansch hid two Jewish women who had fled from Berlin to Baden before being deported to the extermination camps of the East.

Book Launch of stories of Hannelore Hansch and others http://presse.karlsruhe.de/db/stadtzeitung/jahr2018/woche12/kultur_herz_und_mut_gezeigt.html

Her actions show the variety of resistance “and what was possible for ordinary people,” emphasized Prof. Dr. Angela Borgstedt at the presentation of the tape in the New Ständehaus. For the co-editor, the behaviour of the portrayed people belies those “who claimed after 1945 that nothing could be done”. 

Hannelore Hansch (born Gebhardt) was the daughter of the factory director Dr. Fritz Gebhardt and his Jewish wife Thea. Hannelore after elementary school , she attended the Margrave-Gymnasium in Karlsruhe-Durlach, where she was one of the first female graduates. She was deeply impressed by Karl Barth and Martin Niemöller and studied Protestant theology. After her father died and her mother emigrated to Switzerland, she lived on the Rittnerthof (country estate) with her husband, the farmer Kurt Hermann Hansch, during the Nazi era. Her father bought it in 1933. At the time, he had received financial compensation because in his managerial position his marriage to a “full Jew” was no longer tolerated.

Hannelore was a highly respected host for the environment of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth and the ” Badische Sozietät “, reported Gottfried Gerner-Wolfhard, who had been close friends with her since high school .

In the 1930s, she was one of the opposition circle , which met in the apartment of the Karlsruhe Judge Arthur Emsheimer who was also dismissed because of his Jewish origin. Her uncle Thomas Dehler also took part in this occasionally, the former Federal Minister of Justice.

After 1945, Hannelore Hansch continued to advocate for the positions and insights she had gained from the church struggle. In the political controversy over the plans for the atomic armament of the Bundeswehr , which, alongside the political left, was particularly attacked by circles of the BK brother councils , she sided with those calling for the ban on these means of mass destruction. Hansch forwarded the “Ten Theses” prepared by her friend Karl Barth – with the agreed concealment of Barth’s authorship – to the West German church councils, which they brought to the EKD Synod as an application, but which were not accepted by the latter.

Karl Barth had authored the 10 theses anonymously, but when challenged whether he agreed with them, replied that he was in as much agreement with them as if he were himself the author!

Hannelore was a founding member of the Christian Peace Conference. She volunteered in the Society for Evangelical Theology, of which she later became an honorary member. Supporting all activities for more peace and justice remained an important concern until the end of her life. In 2001 she was among the signatories of an appeal by church people against the war in Afghanistan . When the Baden “Peace Ethics Forum” addressed its fellow Christians a year later with the demand to protest against all further wars, this also found her support.

Reflection and Prayer:

Thank you Lord for this woman of courage and conviction, who despite concerns for her own safety as a Jewish disciple of Jesus sheltered others and voiced her prophetic and political views. Help us do good in season and out of season, whatever the costs and consequences. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.



Dr. Helmut Simon, Retired Supreme Court Justice of the Federal Republic of Germnay, and Hannelore Hansch, theologian & friend of Karl Barth’s – interviewed together in Karlsruhe, Germany, 2002.


Dr. Helmut Simon, Retired Supreme Court Justice of the Federal Republic of Germnay, and Hannelore Hansch, theologian & friend of Karl Barth’s – interviewed together in Karlsruhe, Germany, 2002.

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14 May 1909 Birth of Arnold Ehrhardt, Lawyer, Theologian, Pursuer of Justice #otdimjh

Arnold Anton Traugott Ehrhardt (14 May 1903 in Königsberg to 18 February 1965 in Manchester) was a German jurist and British theologian.

Arnold Ehrhardt

Arnold was the son of Oskar Ehrhardt, a professor of surgery, and Martha, née Rosenhain (?Rosenheim?), a school teacher from a Jewish family. The older sister llse was married to the theologian Hans Joachim Iwand.  His younger brother Rudolf (see blog to come shortly) was a also a theologian and emigrated.

Erhardt went to school in Königsberg and then studied law at Erlangen, Bonn, Berlin and Königsberg. After the First World War he served in the eastern border force and took part in the conflict with the Spartacists.

Soldiers the Brandenburger Tor during the Spartacist uprising Jan 7 1919.jpg
Soldiers on the Brandenburger Tor during the Spartacist uprising

The Spartacist uprising (German: Spartakusaufstand), also known as the January uprising (Januaraufstand), was a general strike (and the armed battles accompanying it) in Berlin from 5 to 12 January 1919. Germany was in the middle of a post-war revolution, and two of the perceived paths forward were social democracy and a council republic similar to the one which had been established by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The uprising was primarily a power struggle between the moderate Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) led by Friedrich Ebert and the radical communists of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who had previously founded and led the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund).

Erhardt took his doctoral degree in 1926 in Königsberg and the following year became an assistant to Fritz Pringsheim in Göttingen and took his habilitation (further qualification for universty teaching) in civil and Roman law in 1929 in Freiburg. He lectured at the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

As a “half-Jew” he was threatened with dismissal; in the winter semester 1934/35 he taught at the University of Lausanne. When his lectures in Frankfurt were boycotted in the summer semester of 1935, he publicly declared his Jewish ancestry.

In autumn 1936 Ehrhardt decided to study Protestant theology with Karl Barth in Basel.  From now on he lived with his family, wife and four small children in Lörrach, the last German place before the Swiss border.  He co-wrote the lectures of Karl Barth in Latin, since he was able “to express what was said faster, more concisely and more precisely in this way” (Scherffig, Vol. 2, 136f.). When he learned of his impending arrest at the beginning of 1939, he went with his immediate family to Switzerland and then emigrated to England. With financial help from the Church of England, he continued his theological studies – after a brief interruption by internment as an “enemy alien” in May 1940 – at the University of Cambridge and was awarded a doctorate in 1944. He was assistant curate in a Manchester parish.

He also did research in ecclesiastical and legal history, publishing his findings mostly in German. From 1956 at the latest he was working as an Anglican priest in Heywood. In 1958 he was appointed Bishop Fraser Senior Lecturer in Church History at the Victoria University of Manchester.

The Ehrhardt Seminar at the Centre for Biblical Studies at the University of Manchester is named after him.

In 1951 and 1957 Ehrhardt declined offers of professorships in law at the Philipps University of Marburg and the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

Reflection and Prayer – Eberhard was a towering figure, as the respect given him in his lifetime shows. A man of dignity, integrity and scholarship, with a brilliant mind, a passion for justice, and a pride in his Prussian Jewish Christian identity. I have been delighted to research his life and work, make contact with some of his descendants, and read some of his work. I was also delighted to find I am distantly related to him!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for this man of faith, a Jewish disciple of Yeshua who lived in difficult and dangerous times, and not only survived by left a lasting legacy in his values, scholarship and mentoring. Help us to follow you in the same way that he did, with passion, energy, diligence and humility. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

For an interview with his daughter-in-law Pat and grand-daughter Penny see here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fydlt-X10-E&t=5s

^ Hartmut Ludwig & Eberhard Röhm. Evangelisch getauft – als «Juden» verfolgt. Calver Verlag Stuttgart 2014 S. 88
^ Leonie Breunung, Manfred Walther: Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Rechtswissenschaftler ab 1933, Berlin/Boston 2012, p. 415
^ Heywood Thomas “Arnold Ehrhardt, A Memoir” (foreword to Arnold Ehrhardt: The Beginning, A Study in the Greek philosophical approach to the concept of Creation from Anaximander to St. John, Manchester, 1968)


AN EXCERPT FROM, THE ARTICLE THAT GIVES EVIDENCE OF HIS DEPTH OF SCHOLARSHIP AND WARMTH OF TONE – “It may not be sufficient as an interpretation when Karl Barth comments upon Rom 11. 36, “how could St. Paul close this chapter more significantly than by stating plainly, menacingly and in a hope provoking
fashion that which was known already to those outside”, but it isan important point. The ambiguous conception of the cosmos withits Divine law has, so Barth argues rightly, received its Divine sanctionthrough Christ’s resurrection.” In this respect it is essential to notice that 2. Pe. 3. 13 has the present tense: “wherein dwelleth righteousness”. The change from the future tense “the heavens shall pass away” etc. in w. 10 sq
to this one and only present in v 13 is highly significant, warning us
not to regard this new heaven and new earth as some future event,
in the same way as also the Revelation of St John insists upon the
eschaton being present already. In other words, Christ’s resurrection
is effective not only in the redemption of mankind, but in the true and
perpetual creation of the world. The new heaven and the new earth
are just as much a Divine reality as the new Jerusalem and the new
and redeemed nature of man. One thing only remains open to conjecture, whether human science is able to express the truth about the
redeemed universe. The question to which we are thus led is, whether
scientific truth can be related to Him who has said “I am the way
and the truth and the life”. To this there are two main answers:
first, that the truth about God’s creation must have life spelt over
it and not death, for He is “the God of the living and not of the
dead”. Unless we learn to understand and to use God’s creation as
living and life-giving, we shall still remain in the thrall of “the last
enemy which is death”. Secondly, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;
therefore, the axioms upon which natural science is built, must not
contradict God’s infinity. That means to say, that space and time
must be related to the basic facts of Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. If this demand is neglected, science will do no more than
add to the many deceptions of “this aeon”. (p31-32)

^ Leonie Breunung, Manfred Walther: Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Rechtswissenschaftler ab 1933, Berlin/Boston. 2012, p. 576
^ Centre for Biblical Studies; University of Manchester

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11 May 1665 Fernando Mendes, Jewish-Christian Doctor in time of Great Plague #otdimjh

Fernando Mendes (1647-1724)            



Fernando Mendes was a well-respected Jewish physician, who attended both Charles II and his wife, Catherine of Braganza. Catherine ( 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was queen consort of England, of Scotland and of Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II.

In 1662, he had been brought over as her doctor from Portugal to England, when she married. Mendes was a converso and actively a Roman Catholic, yet also a conflicted and a hidden Jew, throughout his life in England. An additional interesting insight was that the Queen’s marriage dowry had been arranged by Jewish financiers. This indicates how close the Portuguese Jewish conversos were to the heart of the royal families in both Portugal and England.

Mendes was a merchant, politician and doctor, who attended the royal family at the time of the outbreak of the Great Plague of London, which took hold in the beginning of May 1665, and forced the King and his court to flee to Oxford. Mendes was recently mentioned in the Jewish Chronicle on 6 May 2020. He attended Charles II during his final illness and his family lived at Somerset House in the Strand, the Queen’s palace. Even in 1706, he was still consulted about the health of Pedro IV in Lisbon. This study will also highlight how close the Mendes family was to Queen Catherine herself. As she was seriously missing her Portuguese homeland, she became very close to the Mendes family. She insisted that Fernando’s baby daughter should be baptised at Somerset House and also take her name; she further indicated that she wanted to be the godmother of Catherine (1679-1756) at the baptism. The Queen continued to take an active interest in her godchild, as she had no children, which continued to cause many problems in her relationship with Charles. This close and intimate, almost familial, Mendes connection has been missed from much of the earlier Anglo-Jewish histories.


Fernando Mendes is a good example of what a converso or a Crypto-Jew meant in practice. For most of his life in England, he maintained his Catholic tradition out of loyalty to the Queen, who had Priests in residence for her daily mass at Somerset House. This personal conflict within Protestant England fuelled deep suspicions about the negative influence of ‘Papists’ on the Queen, and by association also for Catherine Mendes. She was later recognised as a famous artist, and one of the few outstanding female Jews of the time. She married her cousin, Anthony Moses da Costa (c.1667—1747), a wealthy trader in diamonds, coral, and bullion. Her father later paid the cost for his continuing Catholic faith, when his membership of the College of Physicians was cancelled in 1689, because they described him as a Papist.

In 1688, he was also denied a family inheritance from his wife’s uncle, because he was not considered to be Jewish enough. He was never circumcised or took any part at Bevis Marks, in contrast to his wife Isabel, who was an observant Jew. However, all his children were married there. Yet, as he faced death, he requested permission along with a gift of £100, to be buried next to his wife in the Sephardic (Velho) cemetery at Mile End, because he could not face the prospect of a Christian burial. This unusual request was graciously granted by the synagogue. This presaged a similar plea by Samson Gideon (1699-1762), the most famous Jew in the eighteenth century, who had married a Christian wife. He was buried there too; he had been secretly making regular contributions to the synagogue under an assumed name. For so many of these conversos, who had vehemently chosen to reject any genuine religious commitment, at death they wanted to be part of the Jewish community. There were many others like Mendes and Gideon, who could not ultimately escape their Jewish heritage.

Reflection and Prayer:

I was surprised to discover my relationship to Mendes – see below – but could understand the pressures he lived under – born Jewish, raised Catholic, persecuted as a Catholic in Protestant England, and at the time of his death wanting both a Jewish and Catholic burial. So often Jewish disciples of Jesus, caught in the interface between the different faith communities and at the mercy of the asymetries of power, their own witness, wealth and willingness to serve led them to eke out a precarious survival amongst the leaders of their day. Today Jewish disciples of Yeshua face similar challenges, all the while processing their own identities and faith perspectives.

A prayer of Cardinal Newman: The Mission of My Life

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

With thanks to Rodney Curtis for his research and interview on Youtube – https://youtu.be/5G0uc7yZHpQ

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May 3, 1942 Death of Anton Urspruch – “Baptising” Pastor who helped his Jewish friends #otdimjh

Pastor Anton Ursprunguch was a pastor in Frankfurt-am-Main for more than three decades and was well-loved and popular throughout the region.  He was a pastor at the St. Paulsgemeinde (1899-1925) and then at the Dreikönigsgemeinde in Sachsenhausen (1925-1933). 

Pastor Urspruch’s wife Berta Grünebaum was Jewish, as were many of  his friends. During the rise of National Socialism they came to him for help, and he provided them with ways of escaping arrest – certificates of baptism. Of the 700 certificates of baptism given to Jewish people in the Frankfurt churches between 1900 and 1934, more than 50 were issued by him, more than by any other minister.

He was the nephew of the composer of the same name (1850-1907), whose Piano Concerto can be heard here.

The Frankfurt Jewish community, prestigious families such as the Katzenellenbogen, Schmidt-Fellner and Brodnitz families, all had close friendships with this ebullient and well-liked minister.  Almost all the members of these families, who were close with him and among themselves, were originally baptized as children or adults.  Urspruch maintained contact with numerous Jewish or mixed Jewish-Christian families, baptized their children and conducted church marriages for them.  Yet despite his earnest efforts members of all three families were arrested, taken to extermination and concentration camps and murdered. 

In 1933, under pressure of work, ill health and under scrutiny for his efforts to help his wife’s community, he took early retirement “due to illness.” He was a marked man, and crushed by the fate of the Jewish community that he was unable to prevent. He died on May 3, 1942.

His efforts at protecting them did not go unnoticed, and Ursprung’s legacy was misused by his long-time opponent Pastor Georg Struckmeier (1885–1974) as evidence of what happened during those years.  Struckmeier, who belonged to the German Christians and was a member of the Nazi party, tried to absolve himself and the church of any responsibility for their crimes.  In his “Memories of the Time of National Socialist Tyranny” spoken on tape for the Frankfurt City Archives in 1962, he explains on the topic of  “the Church and Judaism” that it was “a matter of course that the Christian churches had nothing to do with the persecution of Jews in the Third Reich, As evidence he cited the “baptizing” pastor of Frankfurt.

Prayer and reflection: I am shocked and horrified at the complex and tragic situation of my people during this period of history, and grateful for all who sought to  help them. Anton Urspruch was one such person. His efforts to be a support and blessing did not go unnoticed, but there is no memorial to him, as far as I know.  May his name and memory be for a blessing.

Lord, help us to do the best we can with what you give us, as you helped Anton Urspruch. May our lives be given in service to you and to all humanity, and may we leave a legacy for others of courage, faith and service. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Source: Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt – Hartmut Ludwig (Editor), Eberhard Röhm (Editor)

Anton and Berta Ursprung * November 23, 1869 in Frankfurt / Main, † May 3, 1942 in Bad Tölz: mated with Berta, born  Green tree.  1890–1894 studied Protestant Theology in Halle;  1894 First Thenological Exam, 1896 Second Theological Exam;  1899–1925 pastor at the St. Paul congregation in Frankfurt / Main, 1925–1933 pastor at the Dreikönias congregation in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen;  1933 early retirement “due to illness”. \

Die Familie Urspruch in Frankfurt:
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1st May 1948 Passing of Johannes Lesser – Faithful Pastor, Prussian Nationalist, “Half-Jew” #otdimjh

Johannes was the son of Heinrich Lesser, a Jewish bookseller from Halle who converted to Christianity in 1864, three years before Johannes was born on 17 February 1867. For most of his life this did not affect his career or ministry, but when the Nazi Party came to power, he was forced to retire early, denied a pension, and died on May 1st,  1948.

Johannes studied theology in Halle and Berlin, and was ordained in 1894 in the Lutheran church. He was a pastor in Wegenstedt (1894-1899), Höhnstedt (1899-1908), Müchlein (1908-10), and from 1910-1933 in Luckenwalde, an industrial area near Berlin, until 1933, when he was forced to  retire as a “half-Jew”.

Luckenwalde was an industrial city.  In the Weimar Republic, more than 90 percent of the approximately 26,000 inhabitants were politically left-wing, and the majority of the workers were also unionized.  63% were Protestant and 26.2% were non-denominational.  In 1926, 5000 parishioners left the church.  That was astonishingly high at the time.  The anti-church free thinker movement had a considerable influence. 

Lesser was a conservative politically and a liberal theologically, but above all a faithful servant of church and nation, an archetypal Prussian nationalist. His manner and style were forceful, authoritative and commanding. Yet when the Nuremberg Laws were passed (1935) forbidding those with Jewish ancestry from serving  in the professions, his popularity waned and he became an embarrassment to  friends, colleagues and ecclesiastical authorities. Despite being the district superintendent for churches in the Luckenwalde region, the rise to power of the National Socialists and the accompanying growth in influence of the German Christians who supported Hitler meant that he could no longer  serve as a minister.

At first Lesser tried to keep the peace between the German Christians and those who would become the “Confessing Church”, following Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoller and Karl Barth. The Barmen Declaration (1934) affirmed that no civil leader or authority could usurp the authority of God. He took the oath of loyalty to the State Commissioner August Jäger on 27 June 1933 adding in his own handwriting “I sign this declaration in the expectation that nothing will be expected from me that is contrary to my vow of ordination.”

Now at the age of sixty-six and having served nearly 40 years in ministry, he had been suffering from health problems for some time and was only able to carry out his office sporadically. He asked to retire early, and the fact that Lesser was “half-Jewish” contributed to this decision. On September 21, 1933, he took part in the meeting of the parish church council for the last time.  The chairman, Pastor Gleiniger, thanked him for his work.  Lesser declined later invitations in order to save the congregation from having to face difficulties.   He moved away from Luckenwalde where he had been known and respected, to live with one of his sons in Weinböhla near Dresden. In what became East Germany he received no pension after the war, and died on May 1, 1948.

Reflection and prayer.

A long and active life in ministry shortened by the rise to power of the National Socialists, Lesser escaped arrest and deportation – probably by going under the radar away from where he was well-known. We know little of this man’s inner soul, his faith perspective, and it seems he had little regard for his Jewish identity until it put him in danger. Yet his life and ministry bear witness to the faithfulness of God in the midst of the difficult times and circumstances in which he lived. May his name be  and memory be for a blessing!

Psalm 8 For the director of music. According to gittith. [1] A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Source: Evangelish Getauft – als “Juden” Verfolgt [Baptised as Protestants, Persecuted as “Jews”], Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus – Ein Gedenkbuch. Eds. Hartmut Ludwig/Eberhard RöhmCalwer, 2014

eds. Hartmut Ludwig/Eberhard Röhm

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29 April 1916 – Birth of Ludwig Dewitz – Holocaust refugee, Old Testament theologian, Messianic apologist #otdimjh

Born Ludwig Richard Max Heymann, studied theology in Berlin 1934-36, worked in Sheffield UK and Italy with Mildmay Mission 1937-49, leader of Emmanuel Messianic Congregation, Baltimore, 1950-59, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary, 1959-1984.

Ludwig R.M. Dewitz, 1916-2000 – Obituary by Davison Philips ’43 President Emeritus, Columbia Seminary, USA

The life of Professor Ludwig Dewitz, who died November 1, 2000, reveals a pattern unlike that of any other faculty member in Columbia Seminary’s history. He not only survived the hazards and demonic forces that threatened his early life, but came to faith and ministry during one of the great crises of the twentieth century. He experienced the tumultuous history of two World Wars, the Holocaust, awesome economic depressions and ecclesiastical changes, yet believed and served the Sovereign God.

Stephania H. Davis, in her Atlanta Journal/Constitution article after his death, wrote, “He was a German, a Christian, and a Jew.” In all the chapters of his extraordinary life in Germany, England, Italy, and the United States, he survived and grew in faith and scholarship. Dewitz used his intellectual and spiritual gifts in teaching the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. He lived and grew in the nurture of the church and his family and friends throughout the 84 years of his long and faithful life. From a 12-year-old boy in Germany to his major task as Columbia’s professor of Old Testament, he lived out his faith. In retirement, to the applause of his friends, he married his long-time friend, Miriam Brodsky, and they both were important members of the seminary community.

With thanks to Elliot Klayman – Messianic Literature Outreach

He was born in Danzig, Germany, on April 29, 1916, of Jewish parents, was adopted and grew up in Berlin. He became a Christian at a camp for boys in the Black Forest. A series of amazing events led him to England, Italy, Baltimore, Maryland, and Decatur, Georgia. It was far more than a collection of coincidences: it was in reality the work of God in that young man’s life. It began as he heard a growing flood of alarming statements about Jews, the least of which were those of the notorious minister of Nazi propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, “We shall treat the Jews as we treat flowers, only we shall not give them any water.”

For a time, Dewitz was able to study at a theological college, and later on, at an institution which had Ludwig Richard Max Dezvitz, professor emeritus of Old Testament been called into being by the Confessing Church in opposition to the teaching given at official universities. Then, one morning the Gestapo appeared, warning that further gatherings would have serious consequences. The future seemed nothing but a big continued on page 9 “question mark/’ as Dewitz described it.

In the summer of 1936, Dewitz was unexpectedly invited to a meeting in Germany with the Rev. S. H. Wilkinson, director of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews in England, who offered him a position in London. Providentially, this took place shortly after he learned that his birth mother was Jewish. His adoptive parents were required to provide a birth certificate to the Nazi authorities, and that put his life in serious danger. The following year, he fled to England. As he crossed over the border from Germany to Holland, he felt both joy and sorrow. The joy came from feeling that he would survive and carry on his ministry.

The sorrow was the feeling that he had left his home and might never experience it again. Even in England, as World War II spread across Europe and threatened Great Britain, Dewitz was interned for the duration as a German citizen. In the internment camp he began to teach the Bible, and he continued to do so with enthusiasm and effectiveness all of his life.

He also studied at the University of London by extension courses to qualify for the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Ordained for ministry by the Waldensian Church of Italy in 1949, Dewitz brought little more with him to the United States than these experiences, his degree, and his commitment as a Christian and a minister. While serving as a missionary to the Jews in Baltimore, Maryland, he studied with William F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University and received the Ph.D. in 1960. He was an exceptional linguist, mastering more than 10 languages.

Dewitz came to Columbia Seminary in 1959 as professor of Old Testament. He began an amazing and fruitful career of instruction, pastoral care, and ministry in the Presbyterian Church. After his retirement in 1983, he continued to be in great demand as a Bible teacher and preacher. His former students waited in line to secure a time in his schedule for teaching and preaching in their churches. Professor Dewitz had friends around the world, and wherever he traveled, he received hospitality from a variety of friends in various countries and cultures. Dr. Dewitz made demands on students and was sometimes disappointed in their efforts. He need not have been concerned, for most of his students came to know, respect, and admire him. He not only taught in a traditional way, but often had students sing Hebrew psalms or songs as a teaching method. His teaching beyond the campus embraced a wide variety of settings, such as youth conferences, Sunday school classes, women’s meetings, presbytery and synod programs, clergy seminars, and Young Life leadership training sessions.

One of Dewitz’s most enjoyable extracurricular activities was the regular opera classes which he held in his home. Students and staff were invited to listen to his introduction of the works and then enjoy his treasured recordings or radio broadcasts. He rarely missed Metropolitan Opera performances in Atlanta. Those who knew him often speak of many treasured associations in these varied settings. The truest thing that could be said about Ludwig Dewitz is that in his ministry he faithfully served under the authority of the God who led him through danger and disaster to a useful lifetime of witness and ministry.

Davison Philips ’43 President Emeritus

I was fortunate to meet Ludwig Dewitz in his final years at one of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance Executive Conferences – I think in the UK. I was a very new and junior member of this organisation, and he was a senior citizen and elder statesman. I was struck by his sharp intellect and gracious manner, and I think Harcourt Samuel and others looked to him as one of the finest minds in the Hebrew Christian movement of their day. I reproduce the essay he wrote celebrating the 80th birthday of H L Ellison, as part of a book of tributes to another esteemed biblical scholar and Hebrew Christian. Another point of interest – Dewitz overlapped at Columbia with Walter Brueggemann, another profound Old Testament theologian – and I wonder what influence he may have had on Brueggemann’s own sensitivity to Jewish and post-supersessionist readings of Scripture – a topic for some PhD student somewhere!

Prayer and reflection:

Lord, who would have foreseen the circumstances of Ludwig Dewitz’s life? Yet what an amazing tapestry you wove around the details of his walk of faith, and what a contribution he has made to our understanding of scripture and his witness to the Messiah. Thank you for his testimony, his scholarship and his faith – in Yeshua the Messiah’s name we pray.







1 "The Concept of Balance in the Old Testament"
… By Ludwig R. Dewitz
The Concept of Balance In The Old Testament Ludwig R. Dewitz 

If one tried to define a certain trend in recent publications pertaining to the Old Testament field of Biblical studies, it could be said that "balance" is one of the dominating factors. Anderson's panel discussions on The Old Testament and Christian Faith as well as Westermann's collection of Essays on Old Testament Hermeneutics, Barr's books on The Semantics of Biblical Language and Biblical Words for Time, the theologies of Eichrodt, Vriezen and v. Rad, however much they may differ as to method, these books focus attention on all factors involved, thus avoiding a position of imbalance. 

In this connection it is striking to note that two essays, dealing with Egypt and Mesopotamia respectively, in Frankfort's publication The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man state that the decline of these two cultures might be traced to an inherent imbalance in them. Wilson concludes: "Egypt had not had the opportunity or the capacity to work out the interrelation of man and God in terms satisfactory to both. To put it in a different context, Egypt had not had the opportunity or the capacity to work out the interrelation of the individual and the community in terms of benefit to both." 1 Similarly Jacobsen remarks concerning Mesopotamia: "Divine will and human ethics proved incom- mensurable," and then comments on the "Dialogue of Pessi- mism": "With this denial of all values, denial that a 'good life' existed, we end our survey of Mesopotamian speculative thought." 2 

We believe that one of the factors which gave Israel's faith abiding vitality when other cultures died is the factor of balance. Israel's theological thought, religious practice and social structure were balanced in such a way that from its beginning (continues here - https://archive.org/stream/colutheolo5731964colu/colutheolo5731964colu_djvu.txt)

Ludwig Dewitz is a graduate of the Universities of London and Johns Hopkins. This paper is the text of his Inaugural Address as Professor of Old Testament Languages, Literature and Exegesis, delivered in the Columbia Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia, on March 18, 1964.
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21st March 1958 Passing of Franz Ehrenberg, German Jewish Theologian and teacher of Franz Rosenzweig


Hans Philipp Ehrenberg (4 June 1883 – 21 March 1958) was a German Jewish philosopher and theologian. One of the co-founders of the Confessing Church, he was forced to emigrate to England because of his Jewish ancestry and his opposition to National Socialism.

a pastor with Jewish ancestry from Westphalia who, after a
short imprisonment in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, emigrated
to England in 1939 with assistance from Dietrich Bonhoe√er.50

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4 February 1874 Robert Liefmann, Professor of Economics born #otdimjh

4 February 1874 Robert Liefmann, Professor of Economics born #otdimjh

Robert Liefmann was born the son of the wealthy Jewish merchant Sammy Liefmann and his wife Auguste Juliane. He studied economics and law in Freiburg, Berlin, Munich and Brussels.   

At the suggestion of Max Weber , he did his doctorate on business associations and antitrust and received his habilitation (after studies in England) with Magnus Biermer in Gießen in 1900. In 1904 he became an associate professor in Freiburg im Breisgau, where he was appointed full professor of economics.

In 1907 he undertook an extensive study trip through the USA, where his main areas of research were in economic organizational forms and the connections between business and psychology. In addition to corporate forms in the narrower sense, his institutional economic interests primarily concerned with  cartels and trusts. Even before the First World War , Liefmann was regarded not only in Germany, but also abroad as a luminary in the field of cartel law. In 1913 he attracted public attention through his controversy with Wilhelm Merton about the role of the Metal Company and its subsidiary, the Metal Bank, in the international metal trade.

During the First World War, Liefmann was a balloon pilot in the Vosges for a few months before he was transferred to higher education. In the early twenties he developed myasthenia , which meant that he was temporarily dependent on a wheelchair.

In 1933, his teaching position at the girls’ school and his approval for health insurance were withdrawn in the course of the first National Socialist measures. He was also excluded from the university. Although his parents had joined the Protestant faith and Robert, like his sisters, had been baptized as a Protestant, they were considered to be full Jews. Despite the circumstances, the family did not want to leave their homeland and Robert Liefmann even set aside a large amount in his will as a foundation for the University of Freiburg, with the aim of promoting the further development of his economic theory teaching.

On October 22, 1940, he and his sisters Else and Martha and all Jews from Baden and the Palatinate were deported to Camp de Gurs in southern France at the foot of the Pyrenees. There they lived separately from each other under the most primitive conditions. With the help and mediation of the secretary of the World Council of Churches in Geneva , Adolf Freudenberg , who was married to Elsa Liefmann, a cousin of the siblings, they were granted a holiday in February 1941. However, Robert Liefmann was already doomed to die and died a few days later in Morlaàs, 50 km away . It is also tragic that a little later he received permission through the University of New York to emigrate. Only his sisters were able to leave the country or flee to relatives in Switzerland.


In Germany, the family’s assets were confiscated, the property sold, and the house at Goethestrasse 33 was expropriated by the German Reich. The building was used by the Gestapo until the end of the war. Then it was confiscated by the French occupying powers, whose military police used it as a base. It then was transferred to the state of Baden-Württemberg , which established a police station there from 1949 to 2000. Today the Liefmann House is used as a guest house by the University of Freiburg. In memory of those humiliated by the National Socialists, Marlis Meckel reconstructed their life paths in 2006 and placed solperstein (“stumbling  block”) in their memory. The first solperstein was for Robert Liefmann in front of his former home, Goethestrasse 33. The inscription reads:

Stumbling stone for Robert Liefmann
Here lived
Prof. Dr. Robert Liefmann
Born in 1874
Deported in 1940
Died 20.03.1941 in Morlaàs

Prayer and reflection: A great mind whose views on economics have continued to influence thinking of cartels and the metal broking industry but caught up in the torrents that flowed through Germany and led to his death. How much of a disciple of Yeshua was Liefmann? Only God can judge! How Jewish? Enough  to  lose his life and his contribution to knowledge, civilization and the betterment of humanity cut short.  Oh Lord, forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others, knowing that you, the Judge of all nations, will act  justly and show mercy. In our Messiah Yeshua’s name,  who reconciles Israel and the nations we pray. Amen.

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