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62 BULLETIN OF FRIENDS' HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION THE MEETING HOUSE AT BAD PYRMONT By Hans Albrecht THE HISTORY of the Meeting House at Bad Pyrmont is the history of Quakerism in Germany for the last 150 years—an end and a new beginning. Ever since the time of George Fox there have been groups in Germany which, rightly or wrongly, were called Quakers. They were groups of inspired men who outwardly perhaps did not always manifest all the characteristics of the Quakers, but who nevertheless so resembled Quakers in their beliefs and in their spiritual and religious lives, both as a group and individually , that the Quakers who came to them felt them to be men of their spirit. These visiting Quakers saw in them the seed of God, which could and must be brought to fruition; they found in them the germ of the Children of Light. And it would seem that in many cases the Friends who came together in groups such as these, filled with their message, imbued the somewhat distraught life of the community with a strong purpose. The Friends brought the desired message, as George Fox had brought it to the Seekers. In Germany, in the first fifty years after the birth of Quakerism, all such groups were likely to be called "Quakers" without further ceremony, even those which evidenced radically differing tendencies. This was particularly true in the case of the rather widely spread Labadists. The origins of the groups are often obscure. Remnants of the Baptist movement and the beginnings of Pietism and Quietism play a part here. They were groups which objected in some respect or other to the established churoh, or which could find no satisfaction in it. And the word "Quaker" came generally to be used by their enemies as a term of contempt.1 But nevertheless: "In the earlier German communities English Quakerism was taken over at first unassimilated, in its original strength ; but its energy was metamorphosed with the dissolution of the groups into fruit1 Wilhelm Hubben, Die Quäker in der deutschen Vergangenheit (The Quakers in the German Past), 1929, Quäker-Verlag, Bad Pyrmont, pp. 20-60. PYRMONT MEETING HOUSE63 ful leaven, which strengthened these groups, and indeed partly directed them." 2 Hubben names as truly Quaker groups of this period, which had existed for quite a while and which had endured a great deal of persecution, those at Kriegsheim in the Palatinate, Emden, Hamburg, Danzig, and Friedrichstadt. Krefeld might perhaps also be added to this list. But here too differences in religion do not seem to be sharply drawn. At this time, however, direct organic connection with English Quakerism arose. These congregations had belonged originally to the Amsterdam Yearly Meeting, founded in 1677 by George Fox. Then in 1683 a Yearly Meeting was set up in Germany proper. All these congregations died out, however, by the middle of the eighteenth century at the latest. But in Germany the search, and among English and American Friends the burning wish to bring to these German seekers the fundamental message, did not die out. Because of the cruel oppression by the state churches, however, it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that permanent groups could be established ; and this took place in a territory which had peculiar characteristics. It was the territory on and south of the Weser River, about thirty to forty miles southwest of Hanover, which will perhaps serve to locate it for those unfamiliar with Germany, between Minden, Pyrmont, and Herford, in the former residence of Princess Elisabeth of the Palatinate, the friend of William Penn. This region was in strong religious ferment. Moreover, six different autonomous German principalities bordered on each other here, with six different rulers and six different churches; indeed, these principalities even overlapped one another. Laws and the interpretation of them changed at each boundary, and one could cross five boundaries on a thirtymile trip. Religiously dissatisfied individuals could easily avoid persecution for their convictions by crossing the nearest frontier, where they could resume their fight under a new ruler and a new ecclesiastical government. That meant every time, to be sure, relinquishing a way of life. These inspired...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 62-73
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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