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The politics of anxiety: Prussian Protestants and their Mazurian parishioners.

Friedrich Oldenberg (1820-94), the Managing Director of the Central Committee for Inner Missions, toured the southern districts of East Prussia in the autumn of 1865. He made the trip at the request of the Inner Mission Society and the Senior Consistory in Berlin because officials had received some disturbing information about the pastors serving in the United Prussian Church. According to the reports, the clergy in the eastern districts were so insensitive and lazy that Protestant parishioners were turning to Catholic priests for pastoral care and then converting to Catholicism. Members of the Senior Consistory and the Minister for Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Heinrich yon Muhler (1813-74), were concerned and wanted a trustworthy individual to inspect the region and submit a report on the East Prussian churchscape. They chose Friedrich Oldenberg, a Jewish convert and native of Konigsberg (East Prussia), as well as a longtime member of the Inner Mission Society. He toured the districts for two months and organized his findings in a lengthy report of 173 pages that he submitted in January 1866 to officials in Berlin.

At the time that he filed his report, Prussian Protestants were struggling with a constitution for their church, German nationalism, Catholic Austria's influence in the western German realms, secularism, ultramontane Catholicism in the Rhineland as well as Posen/ West Prussia, and the perennial criticism of Prussian Lutherans who wanted to dissolve the United Prussian Church that the Hohenzollerns had created in 1817. Friedrich Oldenberg's report, About Masuria, submitted on the eve of the United Church's Golden Anniversary, alarmed anxious officials in Berlin because it reinforced their suspicions about Catholicism. (1)

According to Oldenberg's report, the initial communiques were correct. A small number of peasants were converting to Catholicism because Protestant pastors had been insensitive to their needs. What the earlier reports had not emphasized, however, was the colonization of the region by Catholic farmers from the neighboring Catholic district, Prussian Ermland. These farmers were purchasing land in the southern districts of East Prussia with financial aid from the Catholic Church. Oldenberg and some local Protestant clergy believed that it was a conspiracy on the part of the Catholic Church to infiltrate Prussian Mazuria and unite Catholic Ermland with Catholic West Prussia and Czarist Poland. The perpetrators were Catholics, German and Polish, and the victims of their scheme were the Polish-speaking Protestant Mazurians. Catholicism troubled Prussian Protestants in 1866, but an aggressive Catholicism that involved its Polish minorities in the eastern districts, the birthplace of the Prussian state and the Prussian Protestant Church, aroused old hostilities and anxieties about the loyalty of its Catholic Church. (2)

While high politics can command attention in national histories and "cloud the life of ... provincial Reformation churches," in this instance, it was the anxiety of prominent Protestant officials in Berlin with Catholicism that prompted an investigation into the East Prussian churchscape, its "peculiar historic gestation," and the spirituality of its parishioners. (3) Several reports were written in the 1860s, but Friedrich Oldenberg's About Masuria was the longest and most detailed of those written before the creation of the Second Empire. It is not new to the study of Prussian church history because portions appeared in Wichern's Flying Leaves in 1866. (4) Recent scholarly analyses that incorporated Oldenberg's findings include Richard Kammel's Die Muttersprache in der kirchlichen Verkundigung, published in 1959, and Walter Hubatsch's 1968 history of the church in East Prussia. (5) The report itself, however, was not published in its entirety until Grzegorz Jasinski included it in his study that was published in 2000. (6)

An examination of Oldenberg's report, the circumstances surrounding it, and Berlin's response is worthy of attention because it provides a glimpse into official and popular Prussian Protestantism at a critical phase in German history. Prussia and Austria were the most powerful German states and had controlled the political fate of Germany since the fall of Napoleon. Now, in 1866, they were at odds with each other. Never before had Protestant Prussia had the opportunity to achieve supremacy in Germany and forge a German union according to its conservative vision. This was becoming Prussia's golden opportunity, but the road to union with Prussia in the lead was going to be difficult. While Catholicism linked Austria with the Catholic German realms, Prussia confronted major opposition from German Catholics, as well as German Lutherans in the west because the Hohenzollerns were Calvinists with a legacy of intolerance toward Lutherans.

The royal family embraced Calvinism in 1613 and was initially able to transcend the confessional rift with its Lutheran subjects by promoting Pietism, a pan-Protestant movement that emphasized the Christian life rather than doctrine. With the advent of the Enlightenment, however, Pietism waned; but the crown filled the void with its hybrid United Prussian Church that dissolved the former Prussian Lutheran and Calvinist judicatories within its realm by royal decree in 1817. Some Prussian Lutherans resisted the church of the royals and were imprisoned. Others reluctantly accepted the mandated church but looked for opportunities to sustain Lutheran traditions within the new organization and waited quietly for it to fail. The northern German realms watched the struggle from the sidelines and were afraid that a similar fate awaited them if Prussia gained the upper hand in a German union. German Catholics had anxieties as well about a union with Prussia at the apex because a state without Catholic Austria reduced them to a minority.

But in 1848, revolution erupted across Europe, and nationalists meeting in Frankfurt attempted to create a German state without either church, Catholic or Protestant, in a position of prominence. Prussian and Austrian governments temporarily lost control of the situation, as deputies in a popularly elected German parliament proposed a German union with a constitutional monarchy and a separation of church and state. A popular movement controlled the trajectory to union and the fate of the churches. (7) Democracy and secularism, the new supra-confessional agendas, now competed for the German soul, and it was in this whirlwind of possibilities that Protestant and Catholic leaders authorized mission initiatives to reclaim their constituencies. The Protestant effort, the Inner Mission Society, was a blessing for Hohenzollern Prussia for several reasons. Not only did it work to alleviate the hardships that accompanied industrialization and urbanization, but it, like Pietism, was a conservative pan-Protestant movement that transcended the Lutheran/Calvinist divide and simultaneously promoted the traditional alliance between throne and altar. Protestant Prussia and Catholic Austria restored order, and the issue of German union was once again a state initiative with the two strongest German realms calling the plays in Germany between 1849 and 1866.

Berlin was anxious in 1866 as it weighed its options, but officials needed to act if they were going to gain a foothold in the small independent German realms in the west. (8) But what a Pyrrhic victory it would be if Protestant Prussia through a shrewd foreign policy neutralized Catholic Austria and incorporated the western German realms into a state, and Catholicism upset Prussia's domestic stability by gaining the upper hand in the eastern districts. The article's argument, briefly stated, is that it was Berlin's mistrust of Catholicism that prompted officials to disregard the recommendations of its Provincial Consistory in Konigsberg and accept Oldenberg's advice to appoint a Vice-Superintendent for the region who would launch a mini-Kulturkampf to reclaim its Mazurian parishioners along the eastern frontier. (9) Unlike the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church in the 1870s that suppressed Catholicism, the campaign for the Mazurian districts in the 1860s was launched to infuse a Protestant identity in a Polish-speaking population that had either not comprehended the message or was refusing to accept it. Since Friedrich Oldenberg was the Managing Director of the Inner Mission Society at the time he submitted the report and recommended a mission initiative, it only seems logical that the article continues with a brief description and comparison of the Protestant and Catholic mission initiatives in the nineteenth century. (10)


In July of 1848, while deputies at the German National Assembly in Frankfurt discussed German union, Protestant leaders felt that the time was right to convene an assembly that would consider a union among German Protestant Churches. Protestant publications carried the announcement of the unofficial "Assembly of Churches" that was scheduled to meet in Wittenberg on September 21-23, 1848. Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-81) published the invitation in his newspaper, Flying Leaves, because the Assembly's organizers promised to let him speak on the practical issues confronting the church.

Five hundred Protestant clerics and lay people gathered in Wittenberg, but the hopes of its organizers, Philipp Wackernagel (1800-77) and Moritz von Bethmann-Hollweg (1795-1877) were quickly crushed as doctrinal differences seized the spotlight, and their dream of a federation of churches evaporated into talk of an alliance among German Protestants. Only after Wichern reminded leaders of their promise to let him address the assembly, did they put him on the agenda. On the afternoon of the second day, September 22, 1848, Wichern spoke and changed the course of Prussian Protestantism. In a speech that lasted seventy-five minutes, he shifted their focus from doctrinal issues to the burning topics of atheism and secularization that he believed were responsible for the growth of communism and democratic thought among the German people.

To counteract the eschatological chaos released by these godless forces, Wichern called upon participants to establish a domestic missionary initiative in which lay people and clergy carried the church's message to its inactive membership. The "priesthood of all believers" could stem the chaos and redeem German society by disseminating Bibles, commissioning evangelists to preach on street corners, and working with and within traditional charitable societies. "Love no less than faith" was the church's "indispensable mark," argued Wichern, and the Inner Mission that he envisioned was going to love German society back to obedience and reverence for the conservative and divinely Instituted social order of God and King. (11) Wichern's call for a pan-Protestant mission initiative that reInforced the conservative Prussian agenda of throne and altar and transcended the Lutheran/Calvinist divide carried the day, and the Prussian participants organized a steering committee before leaving Wittenberg. (12) Although Prussia's most influential Protestants served on the steering committee and eventually on the Central Committee, (13) its in-reach efforts were limited because it lacked the authority to mandate or initiate a national program and depended on volunteers who shared the same conservative vision to launch and sustain its programs. (14)


Three weeks after the Protestant Assembly of Churches in Wittenberg, German Catholic bishops met in Wurzburg (October 22-November 16, 1848). Unlike the Protestants who had to overcome theological differences as well as territorial divisions, the bishops were united by their allegiance to Rome and a set of core beliefs. Territorial boundaries separated German Catholics, but bishops and princes never created independent Catholic churches. Nevertheless, German bishops believed that current events called for a stronger Catholic response and asked Rome to approve their recommendation for a "national" German Synod of Bishops. (15) On the issue of revolution, they, like Wichern, concluded that democratic thought and liberalism had seduced German society because it had become spiritually bankrupt. They saw it happening but were powerless to fight the infection because the Enlightenment and Napoleon had stripped them and their church of its authority. While enlightened thinkers labeled the church's message as archaic and superstitious, Napoleon had stripped it of its secular authority by seizing its lands and/or removing clerics from positions of power. German Catholic bishops resented their "exile" and decided to reenter the public arena in 1848. Although they could not reclaim their lands or former voices of secular power, they could at least preach that "old-time religion" and mobilize their constituency for Church and Pope. Like their Protestant counterparts, the Catholic bishops authorized a missionary campaign for Catholic spiritual renewal. (16)

Since governments had lifted many restrictions against the Catholic Church after 1848, the bishops could once again utilize the missionary skills of the Jesuits and Redemptorists who were now permitted to return to German soil. (17) These experienced missionary priests traveled throughout the German realms and conducted week-long revival meetings. Their highly emotional sermons combined with the pageantry of Roman Catholic ritual were spectacular events that drew phenomenal crowds that often included Protestants and Jews. (18) The Catholic campaigns, however, were exclusively religious. As Jonathan Sperber noted, "The counterrevolutionary aspect of the religious revival did not take the form of supporting a specifically Catholic political party; rather, the emphasis on the renewal of piety as a counter to subversion tended to lead the faithful away from political action of any kind." (19)

Even though the Catholic mission effort was apolitical, Prussian Protestants (confessional, conservative, and liberal) became anxious. They always judged Catholics as superstitious and their obedience to clerical authority as medieval, but the popularity of the Jesuit mission campaigns with its pilgrimages intensified their anxieties about Catholicism. Officials reacted by passing the Raumer Erlass in 1852 that prohibited Catholic clergy from scheduling mission festivals in predominantly Protestant districts. But Catholicism would not be contained, and Prussian annoyance only intensified over the next two decades as officials wrestled with the issue of educating children from mixed marriages, the growth of papal power in political and social arenas, and the presence of Catholic Austria and Catholic France in the German west. Annoyance, however, quickly turned to resentment when the Catholic Church refused to support Prussia's war with Lutheran Denmark in 1864 and openly denounced its war with Catholic Austria in 1866. (20) Subsequently, reports of Catholic farmers moving into traditionally Prussian Protestant districts in 1866 further upset officials in Berlin who were convinced that German and Polish Catholicism threatened domestic stability in the east at a time when they wanted to concentrate on the west. (21)


Undersecretary Kassa wrote the first negative report in August 1859 and sent it to his superior in Berlin, the President of the Senior Consistory, Rudolph von Uechtritz (1803-63). Kassa had observed the Mazurian churchscape while visiting his ill sister in Wielitzken (District Oletzko). As soon as friends and neighbors learned that he worked for the Senior Consistory, they shared their frustration about the clergy in their district and in the neighboring district of Lyck. Kassa, in turn, relayed their concerns to Berlin in an eleven-page letter but never shared any information with the Provincial Consistory in Konigsberg.

According to his sources, the Protestant Church was losing members to Catholicism because pastors were insensitive to the needs of their parishioners. He went on to explain that because of agrarian reform, many Mazurian peasants had lost their small farms and were now struggling to keep their little one- or two-room cottages by working as laborers for local landowners. (22) Although most peasants had no land, pastors continued to collect the traditional annual dues of one Reichstaler and twenty silver groschen from them as well as from the landowners. Some disgusted peasants were converting to Catholicism because priests not only provided them with the sacraments but excused them from having to pay the annual dues. Itinerant laborers and shepherds were also leaving the Protestant Church because pastors refused to admit their illiterate children into confirmation classes. They, like the cottagers, found sympathetic Catholic priests who not only confirmed the children but also issued the coveted "Release" that excused the children from school. With these certificates, the children could work as shepherds for local landowners during the school year because they were exempted from truancy fines. (23)

In addition to being inflexible, the Protestant clergy, Kassa reported, were lazy and inconsiderate. While local Roman Catholic clergy visited their sick and dying, Protestant pastors conducted such visits only when parishioners sent a wagon to the parsonage. Since most people were poor, wagons were never ordered, and the sick died without the comfort of Holy Communion. (24) Mazurians, however, found sympathetic Catholic priests who communed their sick and comforted the dying.

Undersecretary Kassa went on to report that Protestant Mazurians customarily prayed in local Catholic churches and left money on the altar, or presented the offering directly to priests in exchange for prayers. To make matters worse, Mazurians frequently crossed the border into Russian Poland and participated in pilgrimages to the Catholic shrine at Raczki (Suwalki). One-fourth of the pilgrims in Raczki, the Undersecretary noted, were Protestants. When he met a Mazurian farmer returning from a pilgrimage, Kassa asked for an explanation and heard the following: "I wanted to watch and observe how beautifully the Catholic priests pray, to see the devotion and humility with which they call down heaven's blessing for the supplicant. Such intense prayers must be heard and answered by God. The Protestant pastor, on the other hand, offers the same prayer so superficially that it doesn't help." (25)

After reading the report, Rudolph von Uechtritz forwarded Kassa's letter to Consistory Advisor Heinrich von Muhler, and to Provincial President von Kries. The provincial official studied the document and issued a seventeen-page response that agreed with Kassa's assessment on the issue of the annual dues, but disputed the growth of the Catholic Church in Mazuria because government statistics showed a decline in membership throughout the last decade. (26)

Uechtritz was not yet satisfied and forwarded copies of Kassa's letter, von Kries's report, along with a letter from a parishioner, Jan Jenczio (1797-1884), to Prussian officials: Moritz von Bethmann-Hollweg (the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education) and Dr. Carl Moll (1806-78), the General Superintendent of the Provincial Church in Konigsberg. Uechtritz's communique of September 1860 was the first notice that Konigsberg had of Berlin's concern for the church in its districts.

General Superintendent Moll examined the reports and wrote a fifteen-page response to Berlin on January 29, 1861. He acknowledged that the collection of annual dues from impoverished parishioners needed to be revised but defended the pastors serving in the large bilingual Mazurian parishes. If there was a problem, he argued, it was with the audience and not with the clergy because the Mazurians were not your average church-going Protestants. They attended Polish worship services regularly and always asked their pastors for prayers, but they also loved to drink and squandered their meager earnings on alcohol. He acknowledged that the Catholic Church had experienced minor success in the region because of a few talented priests but noted that the Mazurians were not interested in converting. As to the complaints of Jan Jenczio, the General Superintendent dismissed them because Jenczio was a "born again" Christian who was never satisfied with the witness of the territorial church or its pastors. (27)

Statistics from government reports, as well as assurances from high-ranking provincial officials should have ended the debate, but circumstances prevented the Mazurian districts from leaving the bureaucratic spotlight. On November 18, 1863, Heinrich von Muhler, the President of the Senior Consistory as of November 2nd, informed its members that he had received information about two clerics in the Mazurian districts who had endorsed a democratic candidate in recent elections. Berlin asked General Superintendent Carl Moll to launch an investigation into the political activities of "his" pastors, but a concerned von Muhler also looked for information about Mazuria from sources other than the Provincial Consistory. He contacted Martin Gerss, a prison chaplain and member of the Inner Mission Society in the Mazurian districts, and asked him to forward a report on the state of the church within the region. (28)

Complying with Berlin's request, Carl Moll examined the pastors in question, verified their political correctness, and then scheduled parochial visits in the Mazurian districts. Since the region was not accessible by rail, the General Superintendent traveled in mail coaches and visited the eastern Mazurian districts in August, the central in September, and the western districts in the early days of November 1864. Ten days after returning to Konigsberg, the General Superintendent completed a nineteen-page report on the Mazurian churchscape. Its pages described an impoverished region with large congregations, dilapidated church buildings, and a poorly trained clergy. Speaking about the people in the pews, Moll lamented,
 I observed with pain that they were particularly devoted to the
 ceremonies of the worship service. They sang loudly, genuflected
 before the altar, and crossed themselves. They were content with the
 most wretched sermon so long as it was loud and lively. They
 attached more importance to the place than to the observances. They
 bestow a magical power to the sacraments, the prayers of
 clerics-particularly the prayers of thanksgiving and
 supplication--to certain offerings made on specific days at specific
 places. [This occurs] without the slightest thought about betraying
 the spirit of the gospel. Moreover, without the slightest wish of
 converting, they present offerings in Catholic churches, ask [the
 priest] to pray for them, their fields, their cattle, and they
 participate in Catholic services and processions. (29)

Clerics were either indifferent to the situation or tolerated the practices of the Mazurian peasants because they wanted to be seen as understanding. The Mazurian situation, however, was not that unusual because similar conditions existed in the Lithuanian districts of East Prussia as well. "They appear unique to German Protestants in the west," explained Moll, "and we truly wish that things were different."

To improve the effectiveness of the Protestant Church in the region, the General Superintendent recommended (1) annual parochial visits by the Director of the Polish Theological Seminar in Konigsberg, (2) the division of larger parishes into smaller units with additional clergy, (3) the repair of dilapidated buildings, (4) mission campaigns, and (5) better training for bilingual (German- and Polish-speaking) elementary schoolteachers. (30)

The visits, the reports, and the recommendations of the General Superintendent did not satisfy Berlin. In February 1865, after two months of deliberations, the Senior Consistory considered appointing a Vice-Superintendent for the southern districts to oversee its clergy and direct the Polish ministry of the United Prussian Church. Before proceeding with the appointment, however, Berlin asked Wichern, a member of the Senior Consistory since 1857, for assistance from his Inner Mission Society. (31) Although counterrevolutionary Protestants founded the society to battle secularism and socialism in urban centers, Berlin believed it could lend a hand in rural Mazuria because Catholicism was undermining the conservative tie between the Protestant Church and monarch in much the same way that contemporary nonreligious agendas were attempting to reformat traditional society.

Wichern shared Berlin's concern for the Mazurian Districts at a conference in Herrnhut, hoping that individuals would help by volunteering their services. A worker from Danzig, Adolf Bernhard Friedemann, responded, toured the districts, and filed a 111-page report with the Senior Consistory. He too believed that the region was threatened by Catholics and Baptists but concluded that Catholicism posed a greater threat because their priests were organized and superior preachers. To combat the Catholics, he recommended that the Inner Mission Society launch a mini-mission campaign by having Assmann, a Mazurian schoolteacher, preach in congregations when school was not in session. (32) Unknowingly, Adolf Friedemann, a worker from Danzig, confirmed Berlin's fears that Catholicism posed a threat in the eastern districts. Something had to be done.

With no indication of further assistance from its members, the Inner Mission Society asked its Managing Director, Friedrich Oldenberg, to inspect the region and file a report. As noted earlier, Oldenberg was a native of Konigsberg, but, if he had ever visited the Mazurian districts before August 1865, he never mentioned it in the report.


Upon returning to East Prussia, Oldenberg visited with friends of the Inner Mission Society in his natal Konigsberg and then attended a clergy conference in the city of Gumbinnen. After surveying the leadership, Oldenberg toured every Mazurian district, with the exception of Johannisburg, over a period of four weeks, traveling some 256 miles in mail coaches and then paying farmers to take him in their wagons to the isolated villages. Because he did not speak Polish, the Inner Mission inspector employed a translator, Karol Sembritzki (1823-66), when it was necessary but noted that it placed him at a great disadvantage. (33)

His report, filed two months after he returned to Berlin, provided officials with a detailed description of the region's social and economic conditions, the ministry of the Prussian church, and Mazurian spirituality. The report was not a travel narrative, but a document of reflection in which observations and information collected from interviews and books (34) were arranged thematically and introduced with subject headings. (35)

Briefly stated, the converted Oldenberg believed that the region was threatened by the influx of Catholic farmers because the Protestant pulpit had failed to communicate its message to the people in the pew. Clergy had shared the teachings of the Reformation that were mandated from above as best they could, but the absurd pastor/parishioner and teacher/pupil ratio limited the essential experiential contact between the educated elite and their semiliterate/illiterate parishioners. Subsequently, the evangelical message never transformed the Polish-speaking Mazurians. Catholic practices, heathen customs, and superstition continued to play a major role in nineteenth-century Mazuria. They were proof of the church's failure for Oldenberg who, like Carl Moll, concluded that the Mazurians were not typical nineteenth-century Prussian Protestants.

But Oldenberg went further than Moll when he connected superstition and drinking with a Catholic plot to infiltrate the districts. According to him, the Mazurians were losing their farms to creditors because their premodern spirituality prevented them from taking advantage of recent agricultural advances. Superstition trumped science when it came to farming. Because their methods were primitive, their farms yielded meager harvests. To make matters worse, the Mazurians squandered their scant earnings on alcohol instead of using them to purchase additional land or better equipment. "Nothing changes," wrote the Inner Mission inspector, but change was necessary because the Mazurian districts, unlike Prussian Lithuania, had been targeted for colonization. Catholic farmers from neighboring Prussian Ermland were purchasing the abandoned farms with aid from the Catholic Church. Priests followed the farmers and were establishing Catholic churches in the districts. For the German Oldenberg, a multiconfessional Mazurian churchscape was dangerous because he was convinced that the Polish-speaking Mazurians would embrace Catholicism whose agenda he and Berlin believed was anti-Prussian. "If there is any region, then it is this region in which the interests of the Protestant church and the Prussian state are closely coupled," warned Oldenberg. And, "it would be a tragedy if this truth was recognized too late." (36) That Berlin heeded Oldenberg's warning and disregarded the recommendations of its Provincial Consistory in Konigsberg demonstrates that his report struck a nerve with officials in the capital.

Oldenberg opened his report with a Mazurian folksong that described the idyllic beauty of the region's lakes and forests, and then shared the itinerary of his seven-week trip (August 14-October 4, 1865). Oldenburg wrote the thorough twenty-three page historical synopsis that followed to establish several points with readers in distant Berlin. First, the Mazurian districts were not acquired in one of the partitions of Poland but were the traditional domain of the Teutonic Knights. Second, the Polish-speaking inhabitants who lived in the region, some 300,000 individuals, were the descendants of Mazovians who had colonized the districts at the invitation of the Teutonic Order. Colonization started in the thirteenth century, but intensified after 1466 when the knights lost a war with Poland and had to forfeit the Ermland and the lucrative Vistula Delta with its cities of Danzig, Elbing, and Thorn. At that time, the bankrupt Order raised monies by leasing lands in the southern districts to farmers from neighboring Mazovia. Finally, when Albrecht von Hohenzollern transformed the domain into a Lutheran Duchy in 1525, the Polish-speaking colonists were incorporated into the Lutheran Church. According to contemporary accounts, however, the Lutheran clergy confronted an almost impossible task because they were not working with a Catholic population but with a "heathen people only touched by the outward forms of Catholicism." (37) After carefully documenting the church's struggle to maintain a bilingual ministry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Oldenberg turned to the Mazuria that he observed in 1865.

While other regions of the Prussian kingdom improved their transportation networks, urbanized, and industrialized, Mazuria remained an isolated agrarian region. Mazuria was poor, and life moved at three miles an hour. Peasants usually lived in small wooden cottages with thatched roofs and maintained a hand-to-mouth existence by farming the sandy soil around the Mazurian lakes. Wooden stools, a table, crude pots and dishes, and modest beds furnished the small dwellings whose walls were decorated with a picture of the monarch and, to Oldenberg's dismay, a Catholic saint. Small windows that were never opened provided some light, while the windowsills held the family's spiritual resources: a Bible, a hymnal, a collection of sermons, and a bottle of liquor. Earthen floors were the norm and, according to custom, were only swept on Sundays and holidays. (38)

In front of every Mazurian cottage one saw a pile of manure and heaps of screaming dirty children dressed in rags. They played around the manure heap and watched the family's pig or cow, which in the Mazurian hierarchy was more important than a wife or child. When asked to justify their priorities, one Mazurian explained, "I can always find a wife, but not an ox." Subsequently, the farmer would summon a veterinarian for an ailing animal but never called a doctor for a sick wife or child. Sauerkraut, turnips, and potatoes sustained the family throughout the year while eggs, milk, and cheese were sold at market. Many laborers were so impoverished that bread was only within their means immediately after the harvest; for that reason, noted Oldenberg, the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," was really a meaningless phrase. (39)

Alcohol was an important commodity in the region and in the life of its people. Mazurian peasants earned a small income by harvesting and selling their grain and potatoes to German landowners who then manufactured the precious substance on their estates. They sold it back to the peasants at a substantially inflated price. As a seasoned member of the Inner Mission Society, Oldenberg had seen alcohol ruin families in German cities; now, he witnessed its effects in rural Prussia. Although the setting was different, the pattern and consequences were identical: Mazurians drank heavily because they were poor and remained poor because they drank. Drinking, however, was not restricted to men or limited to adults. Men and women drank and gave it to their children because they believed it was a gift of God that was created for their enjoyment. (40)

The most interesting sections of Oldenberg's report were the descriptions of Mazurian spirituality. Since he spent only four weeks in the districts, Germans like Max Toppen (1822-93) and Martin Gerss (1808-95) provided information about Mazurian practices throughout the year. Generally, Protestant German clergy judged Mazurian spirituality as unsophisticated and underdeveloped, but they envied its enthusiasm and child-like simplicity. Oldenberg agreed with their assessment and organized Mazurian religious observances in one of three categories: commendable traditions, acceptable customs, and unacceptable practices. (41)

Commendable traditions received a favorable review because they conformed to or exceeded nineteenth-century Prussian Protestant practices and would prove useful in the campaign to reformat Mazurian piety. Faithful attendance at worship services, for example, was a commendable tradition that impressed Oldenberg and pastors serving in the region. While Germans attended church sporadically, Mazurians went every Sunday and received the sacrament of Holy Communion whenever it was offered. Enthusiastic participation by Mazurians throughout the worship service was another commendable tradition that demonstrated a religious enthusiasm that Oldenberg wanted to cultivate with Protestant content. In contrast to Germans who sat quietly in the sanctuary before a German worship service and waited for the organist to start the prelude, Mazurians attending their Polish services started singing hymns a cappella immediately upon entering the church and stopped only if the organist interrupted them by playing a prelude. They also bowed at the mention of the name of Jesus, sighed when they heard the words "cross" or "heaven," and crossed themselves at important moments in the liturgy, but these habits were judged Catholic and inappropriate by the German Oldenberg. (42)

Mazurians held the pastor in high esteem and traditionally kissed his hand upon meeting him either in the church or on the street. But clerics, although honored, were not above criticism. When asked to describe their pastor, who happened to speak softly, a Mazurian shocked Oldenberg by responding, "We bought a little bird, but he can't sing." The Inner Mission inspector immediately noted that respectful Germans could never be so flippant about their pastors. (43)

On Christmas Eve, Mazurians stopped work at five in the evening, returned home, and gathered with their families around the table that was covered on this night with a white tablecloth. By the light of a single candle, the father read the Christmas story from the Bible. The family ate a simple supper and retired to bed. Absent were the German customs of a Christmas tree and the exchange of gifts. Before sunrise on Christmas Day, boys assembled on the outskirts of their villages and walked through its streets singing the Polish translation of the German chorale "From Heaven Came the Host of Angels." (44) At sunrise, families joined the boys and walked to church singing Christmas chorales. The singing continued as they entered the sanctuary and stopped only when the little children began to process down the middle aisle. Each child carried a candle and was dressed in one of his or her father's white shirts. The shirts just about touched the floor and were tied at the waist with a red rope. At the altar, each child turned and proceeded to one of the four comers of the sanctuary, forming four small separate choirs. Once the choirs were assembled, the children sang the traditional "Quem pastores," a popular Christmas hymn during the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Polish translation in the Mazurian hymnal, "A Savior is born To Us" had seven stanzas. (45) Each choir sang only one line of a four-line stanza. By singing in rotation, the choirs surrounded the congregation with sound and recreated the first Christmas when singing angels flew over the manger. The choirs sang six verses in rotation style and were joined by the congregation for the singing of the final, seventh verse. The tradition of performing the "Quem pastores," once common throughout the region, was a Mazurian custom by 1865 because the service of matins had replaced it in German villages. (46) Oldenberg hoped that the pastors would reinstitute the custom in the congregations where it had disappeared because he appreciated the way it engaged the Mazurians with a text and involved them in the worship experience.

Protestant books translated into Polish were limited to the Bible, a Lutheran hymnal, an almanac published by Martin Gerss, and a few devotional books. The most widely distributed publication in the official canon was the hymnal--Jerzy Wasianski's, The Prussian Kancyonal. Initially released in 1741, the hymnal contained 735 hymns in Polish but had been enlarged over the years with appendices and by the nineteenth century contained 929 hymns and sixty-four pages of prayers written by clergy. The Inner Mission inspector described the hymnal as a "precious treasure" because "the most beautiful German chorales" had been translated into Polish. The Kancyonal, like all Polish materials published for the Mazurians, utilized the German Gothic type that became a potent Prussian Protestant symbol because Polish Catholic literature was always printed with Latin type (See Figure 2). Oldenberg praised the respect Mazurians had for the traditional Protestant texts but lamented to officials in Berlin that they lacked a history of the Reformation, as well as a history of Prussia in Polish. (47)


The most exciting part of the trip for Oldenberg was his visit with the Mazurian Jan Jenczio about whom he devoted ten pages in his report. The Mazurian conducted a weekly Bible study in his small cottage, and Oldenberg firmly believed that Jenczio's model could be duplicated throughout the Mazurian districts if the clergy encouraged other individuals to establish such groups. Although he had been raised in the church, Jenczio heard the message for the first time from a missionary by the name of Goldinger and immediately renounced alcohol. He started studying the Bible, read Hollaz's Evangelic Order of Grace, and constructed a harmonium on which he played hymns. His house and garden were immaculate. A desire to share the message with his neighbors prompted Jenczio to conduct a weekly Bible study for some twenty to sixty Mazurians in his village of Markowsken (District Oletzko). The Bible study opened with Jenczio playing a hymn on the harmonium that was followed by a meditation on a Bible passage that he had prepared. He continued by reading a sermon from Luther's Postilla, offered a prayer, and then had the group sing a hymn.

Because of Jenczio's witness, villagers had renounced alcohol, card playing, and dancing. The tavern in the village still served beer along with tea, but by Mazurian standards, it was a "dry" village. Jenczio subscribed to a German agricultural newspaper printed in Konigsberg but had his son translate it into Polish since he himself was unable to read German. Whatever he learned he shared with his neighbors, and his efforts were clearly visible as productivity and the standard of living had improved significantly. (48) His son spoke Polish but had learned German and was such an invaluable help to the Prussian army when they secured the border during the 1863 uprising in Poland that he had been decorated by the government.

The converted Oldenberg praised the Mazurian Jan Jenczio because he was a communication success story by Inner Mission standards. It started when Jenczio met a missionary and ended with this Mazurian peasant personalizing the Protestant faith. By taking the message to heart, Jenczio in a sense left the Prussian Landeskirche, in which membership was a birthright, and entered the Volkskirche--a pan-Protestant experience that was anti-Catholic and transcended the Lutheran/Calvinist divide. Oldenberg believed that the Inner Mission Society could and needed to duplicate this experience throughout Mazuria because Bible study insulated the people from the message of the priests.

The annual parochial visit of each village by the parish pastor had come under fire in earlier reports because clerics continued to collect the traditional dues from landowners and landless peasants. Oldenberg agreed that the collection of the dues was inappropriate but did not want to abolish the custom because it had commendable features: clergy visited parishioners in their villages, and young Mazurians recited sections of Luther's Small Catechism from memory. At a time when Protestants believed Catholics were colonizing the Mazurian districts, Oldenberg's reluctance to abandon the annual parochial visits made perfect sense. By omitting the collection of the annual dues, Oldenberg had transformed the custom into a mini-Protestant mission event that strengthened the bond between Mazurian parishioners and their pastors at no cost to either the Provincial or Senior consistories. By helping the person in the pulpit develop a rapport with the people in the pew, Oldenberg made it possible for the pastor to move from the periphery to the center of Mazurian life--a position that priests occupied in their parishes. (49)

Pastors traditionally conducted the parochial visits between St. Michael's (September 29) and the First Sunday in Advent and let the village schoolteachers make the arrangements. On the evening of the event, the schoolteacher, farmers, and their families assembled in the largest barn of the village. The pastor arrived in a wagon that a farmer provided and immediately received the annual dues. After vesting in his clerical robes, he led the families in the singing of a hymn, conducted a brief meditation, and offered a prayer for the monarch, Fatherland, and the congregation. At the conclusion of the prayer, the village youth then assembled in the center of the barn and recited portions of the catechism as proud parents watched. The pastor blessed the people, removed his clerical vestments, and took his place along with the village schoolteacher at a table that had been moved into the barn. Women served their two prominent guests a large meal that usually featured a cooked goose. Farmers and their families looked on while the educated elite ate. At the conclusion of the meal, the parish pastor, accompanied by the farmers, visited and communed the sick in the village. Having completed the appointed tasks, the pastor and schoolteacher returned to their homes with the uneaten portion of the goose and the annual dues. Following their departure, however, the farmers and their families then held their own celebration and drank heavily. Oldenberg was disappointed that the catechism had had no effect on their behavior. (50)

Tolerable customs, the second category of observances, were residual Polish folk customs that had been modified to include a verse from the Protestant Bible or a hymn from the Prussian Kancyonal. A Mazurian wedding, for example, was a tolerable custom because it blended the Prussian Protestant with traditional Polish customs. On the day of the wedding, the master of ceremonies (prosjzech), dressed in a blue jacket with red ribbons, rode into the village on a small horse whose harness had been decorated with ribbons and flowers. Cottage doors were opened, and the prosjzeck, on his pony, rode into the cottage to recite the elaborate invitation that summoned the guests to the marriage feast. At the appointed hour, guests assembled in front of the church and waited for the couple, who arrived in a wagon that was decorated with flowers and ribbons as well. The bride wore the traditional myrtle wreath. As the couple walked from the wagon to the church, children sang, "Invite the Lord Jesus to the wedding." Their song, the seventh verse of Johann Olearius's (1611-48) German wedding choral, had been translated into Polish for the Kancyonal. A two-day wedding reception followed the service and included heavy drinking. (51)

The traditional harvest celebration had also been adapted and now included a chorale from their Protestant hymnal. (52) Polish farmers traditionally made a wreath from the final sheaths of grain and decorated it with ribbons and flowers. As they made their way to the barn, the harvesters sang Polish folksongs and soaked each other with water to insure sufficient rainfall next year. As Mazurians carried their decorated wreath to the barn, they sang Polish folksongs, soaked each other with water, but included the traditional Protestant Gloria, "All glory be to God on High" in their thanksgiving repertoire. (53) At the conclusion of the procession, participants changed into dry clothing and enjoyed a meal that featured the Mazurian specialty of Poppy-seed dumplings with ample amounts of liquor. The Inner Mission inspector lamented that inebriated workers concluded the meal by singing the Polish translation of Johann Rist's (1607-67) beloved German chorale, "Now the Meal is Complete." Oldenberg included the entire verse in his report to illustrate the blasphemous nature of drunken Mazurians, men, women, and young people singing the words: "Allow us Lord that we may sit at your table in heaven, where we will savor all your gifts and praise you through all eternity." (54) Although tolerable customs were Polish in origin and quite common in Polish Catholic regions, Oldenberg believed that they were useful in the battle with Catholicism because they had been infused with a sufficient amount of content from the Prussian Kancyonal to distinguish the Mazurians from their Catholic kin.

For Oldenberg and the German clergy, unacceptable practices in 1865 were the residual Catholic and non-Christian observances that still commanded enormous respect in Protestant Mazuria. These included prayers to saints, repetitious intercessory prayers, the use of charms, participation in pilgrimages, and attendance at Mass, which Oldenberg documented thoroughly in the section entitled "Superstitions and Catholicism." (55) The fourteen pages devoted to what he believed was non-Protestant behavior were intended to convince Berlin of the church's failure and the need for intervention if it wished to prevent the Catholic Church from gaining the upper hand in the region.

Prussian Mazurians, like their Polish kin across the border, fasted on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) because, according to tradition, the saint met with wolves in the forests and decided from which herds they could take their food during the upcoming winter. Mazurians endured a day without food and drink in the hopes of earning the favor of the saint, who in turn would prohibit the wolves from taking livestock from their herds. St. James provided protection against lightning strikes because he was referred to as a son of thunder in Mark 3:17. Nervous Mazurians fasted on his feast day (July 25) in the hopes of procuring protection throughout the year. The traditional remedy for eye ailments involved a pilgrimage on the Feast of St. Peter and Paul (June 29) to the Shrine of the Holy Linden in neighboring Prussian Ermland. The Shrine commemorated an apparition of the Virgin who, according to tradition, had visited a criminal in prison one night. She gave him a piece of wood, and the criminal carved a statue of the Virgin, showed it to the judges the next morning, and was set free. As he made his way home, he placed the statue in a linden tree. Word spread quickly about the miraculous powers of the statue, and the tree became a popular destination for Catholics. A chapel was constructed on the site where the tree stood and was turned over to the Jesuits in 1631, who constructed an impressive basilica. In 1865, Protestant Mazurians, along with Roman Catholics, purchased a blue candle at the Shrine, crawled on their knees through the church, and placed the candle on the altar. Mazurians purchased additional blue candles that they took home because they believed that a candle from the Shrine of the Holy Linden had the same beneficial result if it were placed on the altar of a Protestant church during Holy Communion. (56)

If a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Linden was not possible, alternative rituals offered comfort to the Mazurians but disturbed Oldenberg and the German clergy. The most common Mazurian practice was the intercessory prayer in which the supplicant entered a sanctuary, Protestant or Catholic, offered a prayer, and left money on the altar. To be effective, Mazurians believed the prayer had to be repeated two or three times because they interpreted Christ's statement, "where two or three are gathered," to mean that the numbers two and three were holy numbers. Another very common practice was to offer their prayer during the a cappella hymn sing before the Polish worship service. Protestant Mazurians approached the altar in their church, genuflected three times, tied a red ribbon to the base of one of the candlesticks on the altar, offered their prayers, genuflected three times, and returned to their seats. (57)

Charms, such as consecrated Communion wafers and herbs, provided Mazurians with protection in their cottages. In the Mazurian cosmology, the most powerful defense against evil was the consecrated Communion wafer that Mazurian peasants secretly removed from their mouths at the Communion rail and concealed in their pockets. Once in their cottages, this sacred charm was carefully preserved because it frightened evil spirits and healed the sick. Herbs believed to possess special powers were collected at the beginning of August and taken to the pastor to be blessed. If the Protestant pastor refused to bless them, the Mazurians petitioned a Catholic priest who usually complied. The Communion chalice was another powerful weapon against disease. Mazurians believed that if a jaundiced individual looked into the bottom of the empty chalice, the yellow reflection from the sacred gold vessel would cure the "sick yellow." If a Protestant Mazurian made the sign of the cross with the water used to wash a dead person, the deceased would not trouble that individual or enter his house. Another common cure was to hang the clothing of a sick person on a signpost because Mazurians believed that if a passer by took the clothing, he or she would also carry the sickness with them. (58)

As might be expected, the official canon of Bible, hymnal, and Protestant devotionals was supplemented by a popular canon of astrological books that were published in Prussia. Colporteurs sold the materials in Mazurian villages but were very careful to conceal them from the clergy. The Mazurians regularly consulted these publications to avoid making important decisions on unlucky days. The wise farmer, for example, refused to plant, harvest, or begin any building project on an unlucky day, while the smart Mazurian couple always scheduled their wedding around them. To the converted Oldenberg, the clandestine canon and the veneration it received from the people further demonstrated the enormous power that superstition exercised in their daily life. (59)

Mazurians participating in pilgrimages to Roman Catholic shrines and attending Mass on special days concerned Oldenberg, as well as General Superintendent Moll and Undersecretary Kassa. These practices contradicted the evangelical faith and baffled German Protestants. Mazurians, explained Oldenberg, traditionally joined their Polish Catholic kin in a pilgrimage on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) because the day on which the earthly Jesus was transfigured as the divine Christ was a magical day. By participating in a pilgrimage on that day, the Mazurians hoped that a similar metamorphosis would occur in their lives, and the transfigured Christ would transform their suffering into joy. The Shrine of the Holy Linden in Prussian Ermland was the most popular shrine, but large numbers of Mazurians, often crossed the border into Czarist Poland and visited the shrine in Raczki (Suwalki). Oldenberg noted that Superintendent Merleker (1810-87) once had to postpone a parochial visit to the congregation of Muhlen in August 1862 because the majority of the congregation was on a pilgrimage. The parish pastor in Osterode complained that on Good Friday, he traditionally communed 630 Germans and only 130 Mazurians because the vast majority of the congregation, some 3,300 Mazurians, had attended the local Catholic Church on Maundy Thursday, received communion, and participated in the beloved ceremonial burial of Jesus. Despite their Protestant upbringing, Mazurians often paid a priest to say a Mass for their deceased. If the deceased were a child, the family would request a Mass and then place the child's toys on the altar of their Protestant church. The pastor who found the toys on the altar commented to Oldenberg: "What the heathen buried with their dead, Mazurians place on the altar." (60)

The popularity of these unacceptable practices worried Oldenberg and, as noted earlier, were described in detail to trouble German officials in Berlin. The Reformation in Mazuria may have contended with the Christianization of a pagan people, but it was painfully obvious that after three hundred years of preaching and religious instruction, the Protestant perspective had made little impact on the Polish-speaking Mazurians. For the Inner Mission inspector, Mazurian spirituality was an objectionable premodern "goulash" of Lutheranism, Catholicism, and pre-Christian practices. "Mazurians regard themselves as good Protestants. That may be true as far as their anti-Polish and pro-Prussian sentiments go," wrote Oldenberg. "But their natural inclination, whether or not they are aware of it, is more towards Catholicism. They are not [good Protestants] for the simple reason that they lack proper Protestant training. They are incapable of distinguishing between Christian and non-Christian, let alone between Protestant and Catholic." (61)

At the time Oldenberg visited the districts, Catholic landowners numbered 187 in Sensburg, 134 in Neidenburg, 275 in Ortelsburg, 338 in Osterode, 68 in Lyck, 32 in Oletzko, and 10 in Johannisburg. Although he regretted not having earlier statistics to prove his point, Oldenberg assured his readers that "without a doubt," the districts were dealing with an organized colonization for Romanism by priests in Ermland. The "Catholic invaders march into the region like ants" and then appeal to the Mazurians by constructing ornate churches for their elaborate rituals that feature bells and incense. (62)

In the Oldenberg paradigm, Ermland was the antithesis of everything that he believed was Prussian: it was Catholic, had belonged to Poland (1466-1772), was an outpost of the Jesuit-led Counter Reformation, and was now exporting its Catholicism. (63) The Jesuits, for example, who had acquired the chapel of the Holy Linden in 1631, intentionally constructed a magnificent baroque basilica (1687-93) on the site that was close to the border with Mazuria because they wanted to lure Protestants into their splendid sanctuary. (64) In 1865, the plans of the Jesuits were reaping dividends: Mazurians visited the Shrine and experienced the majesty of Catholicism. They returned home, and Prussian officials worried that they would be disappointed with their sober Protestant sanctuaries and reserved clerics. In addition, Catholic farmers from Ermland were buying land from bankrupt Mazurians and then moving into the Protestant districts. (65) Once settled, the Ermlanders listened for news of other failing farms and sent word to their kin back home, who then arrived with money and credit from the Catholic Church. As the number of new arrivals increased, priests followed, and Catholic churches were constructed. In Sensburg, ten years ago, noted Oldenberg, there were only three Catholics; now, the recently consecrated church is filled every Sunday. But a multiconfessional Mazuria was lethal, argued the Inner Mission Inspector, because the Polish Catholic Ermlanders have "definite Polish sympathies" that surfaced during the last Polish uprising (1863) when teachers had children singing anti-Prussian songs. These "fanatics" were purchasing land in Mazuria and "building a bridge between Ermland and Russian Poland." (66)

A second competitor for the loyalty of the Mazurians was the Protestant Baptist missionary. Unlike Oldenberg and the Inner Mission Society that worked to reintegrate individuals into the established Protestant church, the Baptists insisted that the newly converted leave the United Prussian Church and join a Baptist fellowship. Although less successful than the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist message appealed to Mazurian women who, after converting, pressured their husbands to imitate their example because Baptists insisted that members renounce alcohol. Despite the presence of several Baptist chapels in the districts, Oldenberg only devoted three pages to their activities because he believed that it was a militant Catholicism that threatened Mazuria. (67)

After presenting his analysis of Mazurian spirituality and the crisis precipitated by the influx of Catholic farmers from Ermland, the Inner Mission inspector described each Protestant parish so that officials in distant Berlin clearly understood the Mazurian situation. Large parishes covering forty to sixty square miles, a pastor/parishioner ratio of 1:4000, old buildings, and an elderly clergy were the basic points in his thirty-page litany of problems. (68) To illustrate the unreasonable expectations placed upon clergy, Oldenberg described the workload of Pastor Gerss in Ortelsburg. In addition to weekly German and Polish worship services, Gerss held services in the local prison and taught classes for adults and 150 confirmands. He visited parishioners regularly and served as the school inspector for Ortelsburg and its ten neighboring villages. If Berlin really expected its church to stave off the Catholic invasion, Protestant officials needed to address the unreasonable workload of its clergy. (69) The church, however, was not entirely responsible for the communication breakdown in the Mazurian districts. German landowners contributed to the problem by not supporting the church, manufacturing alcohol, and mistreating Mazurian laborers. Their greed and disregard for the church exacerbated the gap between Mazurian peasant and their German clergy, which priests were very willing to fill. (70)

But the final factor that weakened the witness of the United Prussian Church was its parochial school system. School districts, like the parishes in the Mazurian districts, were large with a teacher/student ratio of 1:160-80. Sporadic school attendance throughout the year only made a difficult situation worse. Between the months of May and November, many Mazurian children earned essential income by watching the livestock of local landowners. Although the law explicitly prohibited parents from removing children from school for this purpose, Mazurians paid the small fine because they desperately needed the income and viewed the education of future farmers as unessential. After November, when the children were free of their shepherding duties, the hard Prussian winters, as well as the long distances to school, made regular attendance impossible. However, large classes and sporadic attendance were only part of the problem. The major obstacle, according to Oldenberg, was the Germanization program that the government had launched some twenty-five years earlier. Poorly trained teachers with inadequate materials were expected to teach German to Polish-speaking children. They failed. Because of this ill-conceived and poorly executed program, an entire generation of Mazurians left school and were incapable of speaking either German or Polish. Subsequently, they were unable to communicate with their parents or understand a sermon. Oldenberg hoped officials would reconsider the merit of a program that placed Germanization over Christianization. (71)

Throughout the report, Oldenberg offered recommendations that he believed would strengthen the witness of the Protestant Church in the Mazurian districts and insulate the population from Catholicism. To combat the influence of alcohol in the region, Oldenberg recommended an increase in the tavern tax that would force the closure of many taverns. (72) The most practical recommendation, however, was his call for improved roads that would connect the Mazurians with the social and economic benefits of Prussia. Poor roads made travel difficult and the shipment of goods expensive. Paved highways, on the other hand, would open new marketing opportunities and perhaps motivate the Mazurians to learn German. Having mastered German, the peasant could look for seasonal employment in German cities instead of crossing the border into Czarist Poland. (73) But Oldenberg's call to reconsider the Germanization program was the boldest in the report. Paragraphs labeling teachers as ill equipped, material as antiquated, and a program as misguided were daring because the Inner Mission inspector risked offending the officials that commissioned the inspection. They had instituted the Germanization program and believed it would create loyal Protestant subjects. Oldenberg disagreed. The absence of documentation makes it difficult to identify his motives, but what is clear is that Protestantism and not language was the essential factor in his equation. Oldenberg's perspective was not novel because the Protestant Church had promoted and defended the use of the vernacular in the sanctuary since the time of the Reformation. That opinion had also been common among government officials. Karl von Altenstein (1770-1840), the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education, for example, was the typical Prussian who had a Herdian respect for the mother tongue and religion. (74) Speaking about Polish culture in general, Karl von Altenstein stated in 1822, "Religion and mother tongue are the most sacred possessions of a nation," and, "a government which shows itself indifferent to them, or even allows attacks upon them, embitters and dishonors a nation and makes of its members untrue and bad subjects." (75) Oldenberg reflected that attitude because he did not defend the Germanization of the region. But times were changing, and Berlin's insistence that its citizens speak German and belong to its Protestant Church indicates that officials had come to question a multilingual/multiconfessional realm. The old royal vision that once embraced various populations was being replaced with an imperial model that insisted on culture conformity because officials believed it guaranteed stability. (76)

To facilitate a connection between the educated pastor and the semiliterate parishioner, Oldenberg concurred with Berlin's recommendation of appointing a Polish-speaking Vice-Superintendent for the Mazurian districts. An official who was fluent in Polish and resided in the region could improve the church's visibility with regular parochial visits and elaborate mission festivals that could compete with Catholic ceremony. Since the region lacked railroads, and the Senior Consistory had cancelled earlier visits for lack of funding, the proposal of an official residing in the districts had financial merit.

An ultramontane-like Prussian Protestantism that looked to Berlin was the critical component in the Oldenberg formula because it insured control and loyalty since it was obvious that Konigsberg had failed. Independent or unauthorized contact with the divine through saints or Catholic priests had to be eliminated. Restated, all aspects of Mazurian spirituality had to be observed and directed by loyal Prussian parish pastors if the pulpit was going to instill and maintain a Protestantism that would satisfy official concerns about its Mazurian parishioners. Oldenberg's request for a history of the Reformation and a history of Prussia in Polish was another example of his desire to establish control before it was too late. By supplementing the traditional hymnal, Bible, and devotional literature with modern histories, he was urging Prussian Protestants to write Prussian Mazurian history before Catholics realigned their identity. (77)


After reading Oldenberg's report, the Senior Consistory was so impressed that it had forty copies printed in the spring of 1866 and circulated them among church and government officials. The Inner Mission Society published portions in its newspaper, The Flying Leaves. Konigsberg, however, was bypassed in the initial distribution and only received a copy in September 1866, some six months later. Having argued from the beginning that the Mazurian districts were not exceptional and hoping to downplay the frenzy caused by the report, General Superintendent Moll responded to Oldenberg's findings only in paragraph nineteen of his annual report to the Senior Consistory. He dismissed the account as a sensational collection of impressions assembled from unreliable sources that ultimately revealed the agenda of its editor rather than the situation in the Mazurian districts. Moll was truly disappointed in Oldenberg's critique because he expected a native Prussian to have compassion for a church that struggled with large congregations, bilingual ministries, and impoverished parishioners. He reminded the Senior Consistory in Berlin that Konigsberg was aware of the problems and, in 1864, had submitted a list of recommendations that were identical to Oldenberg's with the exception of the Vice-Superintendent for the Mazurian districts because such an appointment would, in his opinion, destroy the unity of the provincial church. (78) Even the German historian of Mazuria, Max Toppen, who read Oldenberg's report in 1869, agreed with Oldenberg's general assessment but felt he was too pessimistic. (79)

Berlin ignored Konigsberg and decided to appoint a Polish-speaking Vice-Superintendent who would regenerate the clergy and their Polish ministry in the Mazurian districts. Like the mission initiatives of the Catholic Church that mandated change from above and utilized the skills of outsiders along with local clergy, Berlin imported an individual from outside of East Prussia and placed him in a leadership position so that he could direct the campaign among the clergy that would ultimately establish a Protestant identity in the Mazurian population. Dr. Leopold von Otto, a Polish Lutheran pastor in Cieszyn, was interviewed, but Otto turned the offer down, and Berlin called Dr. Carl Remus of Posen. Following his installation as Vice-Superintendent on July 11, 1868, Remus conducted a lengthy investigation and in 1870 recommended (1) special conferences for pastors serving bilingual congregations, (2) the reinstitution of Polish instruction at the Gymnasium in Lyck (abandoned in 1811), (3) the division of larger parishes, (4) the appointment of Polish-speaking pastors from other sections of Prussia, (5) the establishment of an agricultural school in the region for the sons of farmers, (6) an increase in the Vice-Superintendent's travel allowance, and (7) a better assistant pastor and secretary. He justified his recommendations with an appeal to the primacy of the vernacular: "So long as our church has Poles, Winds, and Lithuanians it is the responsibility of the church to see that its members have the knowledge of salvation presented to them in their mother tongue." But he lacked the support of the Provincial Consistory and the resources that would help him reenergize the local clergy. Despite Oldenberg's call for additional publications, only one was published: The Little Luther Book of Hermann Wangemann that was translated into Polish by Heinrich Surminski and printed by the Wuppertal Tract Society in 1868. (80) By 1876, after eight years of struggling in the districts, Remus resigned. Little had been accomplished. Those in Berlin who created the position, Heinrich von Muhler and Ludwig Mathis, had resigned from their posts in 1872. Administrators in the new Second Empire abolished the office of Vice-Superintendent for Mazuria, and Konigsberg once again became directly responsible for its Mazurian congregations. (81)


In nineteenth-century Prussia, the Mazurian districts were the scene of an intense struggle between Protestant peasants and a sandy soil that yielded meager harvests. Their spirituality was eclectic but practical: it aided them in a cosmic struggle with the environment at a time when the Germans showed little interest in their well-being. They read their Bible, hymnal, and devotional literature, but used these resources to embellish traditional rituals that summoned divine favor for them and their few possessions. Protestantism, like Catholicism, supplied the essentials: clergy, church, and ceremony. Protestant clerics were respected mediators of power in the Mazurian cosmology but were replaceable if they failed to meet the expectations, and Mazurians were known "to shop around." Churches, Protestant and Catholic, were sacred locations that provided direct access to the divine and were respected by the Mazurians.

A series of reports about the Mazurians, written between 1859 and 1865, alarmed Berlin while church officials in Konigsberg, who had lived with the situation for some three hundred years, remained calm. Provincial church officials did not believe the Mazurians posed a threat or were threatened by priests, but then they were probably not aware of Berlin's anxieties with Catholicism. Additional information did not alleviate Berlin's anxiety, and, in 1865, it asked Friedrich Oldenberg of the Inner Mission Society to inspect the region and report his findings directly to Berlin. Earlier reports complained of clerical insensitivity that resulted in parishioners converting to Catholicism. Oldenberg, a middle-class convert to Protestantism, filed a report that documented the existence of a premodern spirituality that survived because of an absurd pastor/parishioner and teacher/pupil ratio. With little guidance and only the Bible, a hymnal, and some devotional literature, the Mazurians fell behind, and a nineteenth-century Protestant confessional identity had not emerged in the districts. The Prussian Mazurians had not rejected "the cult of the saints ... pilgrimages, appointed fasts," and "holy days," activities that had been condemned three hundred years earlier in the Augsburg Confession; (82) neither had they embraced personal autonomy, communal self-government, and/or scientific advances in agriculture. (83) Even though the Mazurians were politically passive and loyal to the Hohenzollerns, they were now suspect because they maintained a collective cultural identity that was outside the emerging national community. (84) But the situation was dangerous because Catholic Ermland was exporting its Catholicism. German and Polish Catholic farmers from Ermland were purchasing land in Mazuria. Catholic churches were being established in Mazuria, and Oldenberg worried that large numbers of Mazurians whose spirituality was Catholic-like might actually leave the Protestant Church. It would be another victory for Catholicism at a moment when Protestant Prussia worried that its Catholic neighbors might succeed in uniting the independent German realms in the west under the Habsburg crown.

For Oldenberg, the growth of Catholicism, not the usage of Polish, was the critical issue in the region. The Mazurians were loyal Prussians and had demonstrated their loyalty to the Hohenzollerns and the Prussian state by not participating in the 1863 Revolt that had swept across Czarist Poland. That had not been the case with Catholics in Prussian Ermland, who not only flaunted their faith but were proselytizing the indigenous Protestant population. The Managing Director of the Inner Mission could not curb Catholicism in Prussian Ermland, but he could reduce its effectiveness in the Mazurian districts by improving the ministry of the Protestant Prussian Church with the appointment of a Polish-speaking Vice-Superintendent who would reenergize the clergy and their witness. Berlin listened. Although officials did nothing about the Germanization program in the schools, they did agree that religion was so important in the Mazurian districts that they would underwrite a Protestant initiative in Polish. Berlin appointed a Polish-speaking Vice-Superintendent for the region who would strengthen the church's grip on its Mazurian parishioners by infusing the population with a modern Protestant identity. The church provided the basics: Bible, hymnal, devotional classics, Polish-speaking clerics, and now a Polish-speaking Vice-Superintendent. Since secularism, socialism, or atheism were unknown in the Mazurian districts, and the Mazurians loved their worship services, annual visits, and believed in the power of prayer, all the Vice-Superintendent had to do was solidify their connection with their Protestant Prussian clerics.

The project failed. Although the Vice-Superintendent was in a position to initiate change, provincial support never materialized. The semiliterate Mazurians never modified their premodern spirituality and re-entered the bureaucratic spotlight in 1883, when a new report of Catholic farmers purchasing land in Mazuria precipitated another crisis. (85) This time the Inner Mission Society altered its tactics and, in 1890, replaced its Polish language programs with a German initiative. (86) In contrast with 1866, when Catholic neighbors loomed on the horizons and the outcome was uncertain, Prussia had nothing to fear from them in 1890. Austria had been defeated on the battlefield in 1866, and the independent German realms in the north were incorporated into the North German Confederation. Catholic France fell next, and the remaining territories were brought into the Second Empire of the Hohenzollerns in 1871. Kulturkampf, the campaign against Catholicism in the 1870s, polarized the churches and ultimately politicized both Protestant and Catholic identities, but Prussia was no longer anxious about its domestic stability because it could handle its issues and its Mazurian parishioners as it saw fit since its Catholic neighbors had been neutralized.

(1.) Friedrich Salomo Oldenberg, "Zur Kunde Masurens: Bericht dem Centrale Ausschusse fur Innern Mission," 18 December 1865, Evangelisches Zentral Archiv, Berlin, 7/3521[2], (hereafter cited as EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2],). The EZA has two copies of the report under the classification 7/3521. Oldenberg and a copyist reproduced the first while four copyists worked on the second copy: Copyist A reproduced pages 1, 49-96; Copyist B: 2-11; Copyist C: 12-48; and Copyist D: 97-173. The final sections, "Wishes" and "Recommendations to the Central Committee," noted in the Table of Contents are missing. The author of this article worked with the second copy (7/3521[2]) that has 173 numbered pages. References in this article refer to that copy, which is identical with the manuscript in the Archiv des Diakonischen Werkes.

(2.) Fears of Poland reclaiming West and East Prussia are documented in William W. Hagen, Germans, Poles, and Jews: The Nationality Conflict in the Prussian East, 1772-1914 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 50, 124.

(3.) Nicholas Hope, "Prussian Protestantism," in Modern Prussian History, 1830-1947, ed. Philip G. Dwyer (Harlow, U.K.: Pearson Education Limited, 2001), 190.

(4.) Fliegende Blatter aus dem Rauhen Hause zu Horn bei Hamburg 23 (1866): 294-310, 325-40, 378-87. The pagination is provided by Grzegorz Jasinski in the book, Friedrich Salomo Oldenberg, Zur Kunde Masurens: Bericht fur den Central-Ausschuss fur Angelegenheiten der Inneren Mission aus dem Jahre 1865, eds. Grzegorz Jasinski and Rudolf Schridde, trans. Joachim Rogall and Friedemann Kluge (Dortmund: Forschungsstelle Ostmitteleuropa, 2001), 44.

(5.) Richard Kammel, Die Muttersprache in der kirchlichen Verkundigung: Die kirchliche Versorgung der polnisch sprechenden evangelischen Gemeinden in Preussen in den letzten hundert Jahren (Witten: Luther Verlag, 1959), 130-68; Walter Hubatsch, Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche Ostpreussens, Bd. 1 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprect, 1968), 368, 413-14.

(6.) Grzegorz Jasinski utilized a 255-page manuscript that was reproduced in 1901 from a copy housed in the Archiv des Zentralausschusses fur die Innere Mission. The 1901 copy is currently in the Wojciech-Ketrzynski Research Center, Olsztyn, Poland. Jasinski, Zur Kunde Masurens, 59-60.

(7.) F. Eyck, The Frankfurt Parliament 1848-49 (London: St. Martin's, 1968); T. Nipperdey, Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck, 1800-1866, trans. Daniel Nolan (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), chapter 5.

(8.) Analyses of the road to unification include David Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780-1918 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); John Breuilly, ed., The State of Germany; The National Idea in the Making, Unmaking and Remaking of a Modern Nation State (London: Longman, 1992); The Formation of the First German Nation-State 1800-1871 (New York: St. Martin's, 1996); Austria, Prussia and Germany, 1806-1871 (London: Longman, 2002).

(9.) For a recent study on Kulturkampf and its literature, see Marjule Anne Drury, "Anti-Catholicism in Germany, Britain, and the United States: A Review and Critique of Recent Scholarship," Church History 70:1 (March 2001): 98.

(10.) In the first half of 1848, German Protestants, lay and ordained, convened a number of assemblies in German-speaking territories to discuss the relationship of their churches with their governments, as well as their association with each other. On the issue of church and state, some leaders considered separating the two institutions and letting the church govern itself with lay leaders and clergy serving on parish councils and sending representatives to district synods. Delegates attending the district synods would then elect representatives to a General Assembly, the ultimate authority. Opponents, believing that church and state should remain linked, proposed the continuation of the traditional consistory. In this scheme, lay leaders and clergy worked together on parish councils and in district synods but reported to and received instructions from a provincial and/or senior consistory that was staffed by government appointed clergy and lawyers. On the issue of interchurch relations, leaders considered two options: a federation of churches with a central judicatory that would direct the territorial/ confessional churches or an alliance in which a central committee only made recommendations to the churches that remained independent. The federation appealed to individuals who yearned for a national German Protestant Church, while the alliance found a receptive audience among those who opposed the creation of such a national church.

(11.) Johann Hinrich Wichern opened his first shelter for delinquent boys in the suburbs of Hamburg in 1833. In addition to caring for the boys, Wichern also trained assistants who transplanted his ideas of social welfare and Christian charity when they found employment in orphanages or prisons in other German territories. Convinced that charitable organizations were the solution to the social crises created by industrial society, Wichern shared his insights and reported on the progress of his ministries in his newspaper, Flying Leaves, which he started in 1844. Wichern's presentations at the Assembly of Churches are documented in Peter Meinhold, ed., Johann Hinrich Wichern Samtliche Werke, Band 1, Die Kirche und Ihr Soziales Handeln (Berlin: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1962), 155-73 (hereafter cited as SWI); see also John E. Groh, Nineteenth Century German Protestantism: The Church as Social Model (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982), 241, and Julius Bodensiech, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress, 1965), s.v. "Wichern, Johann Hinrich" by Ingetraut Ludolphy.

(12.) Although leaders had traveled to Wittenberg to consider realigning the German Protestant churchscape, they could only agree on revitalizing it before leaving. They enshrined that commitment to Wichern's Inner Mission in Article 5e of their "Resolution" and elected Moritz von Bethmann-Hollweg as President, Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802-61) as Vice-President, and Heinrich von Muhler as the Secretary of the steering committee. Since Prussian Protestants found an alliance the least offensive form of government, the steering committee designed the Inner Mission to function as an alliance. Its Central Committee, the outgrowth of the steering committee, could only advise charitable societies or consistories and convene conferences to discuss social ministry. It had no power to mandate or initiate reform, and association with the Central Committee remained voluntary. Wichern's Flying Leaves became its voice, and with the exception of Wichern who was from Hamburg, all of its members were Prussians. "Nr. 129. Beschluss der Wittenberger Versammlung uber den Deutschen Evangelischen Kirchenbund," in Staat und Kirche im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: Dokumente z. Geschichte d. Dt. Staatskirchenrechts, eds. Ernst Rudolf Huber and Wolfgang Huber (Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 1973-95), 2:293. The following year, 1849, Wichern released his "Manifesto for the Central Committee," in which he described the charitable and evangelization initiatives that he believed would reform the German churchscape and German society. Welfare activities included caring for the poor, the sick, and the aged, promoting the establishment of orphanages and societies for prison visitation, campaigns against drinking, prostitution, and illegitimacy, and advocacy for housing and prison reform. Evangelization initiatives included the distribution of Bibles and tracts, the promotion of home devotions and Bible study, the establishment of evangelical publication houses, libraries, and newspapers, and the employment of colporteurs and evangelists. See Groh, Nineteenth Century German Protestantism, 267-68.

(13.) Left-wing extremists as well as right-wing Lutherans did not participate in the Wittenberg Assembly. Detailed proceedings are reported in J. F. Gerhard Goeters, Joachim Rogge, and Rudolf Man, Die Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche der Union: Ein Handbuch (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1992), 2:399-401.

(14.) In April 1849, 59 agents worked for the Inner Mission, and 12 charitable societies had established contacts with the Central Committee. By August 1849, the number of agents had increased to 116, and 24 traditional charities were in dialog with the Central Committee. The Province of Prussia, an early partner in the initiative, illustrates the weakness of the Protestant program. In November 1848, two months after the Wittenberg Assembly, pastors and seminarians in the Evangelical Association in Konigsberg dedicated themselves to the causes of the Inner Mission at the urging of seminarian Friedrich Oldenberg. They organized a Provincial Committee within a year and at their first Provincial Convention (1850) discussed the plight of children working as shepherds and the needs of rural day laborers. Subsequent conventions addressed prison chaplaincies, Sunday observances, and pastoral care for railroad construction workers, but the outreach initiatives depended on the willingness of local pastors and/or seminarians to assume additional responsibilities. Seminarians, for example, established and maintained a ministry to the work crews that were laying the tracks on the railroads connecting Berlin with Konigsberg and Eydtkuhnen. They traveled to the work camps, distributed literature, and conducted some seventy traditional worship services in the barracks or nearby fields. Nevertheless, the ministry lacked essential institutional support, and when the students relocated or graduated, the initiative stopped. With limited human resources at its disposal, the Inner Mission came to rely on the distribution of religious literature to communicate its message and always noted the number of published items sold or distributed in its annual reports and publications. In 1854, the inventory of distributed and sold items in the province included 250 Bibles, 5,000 religious books, some 7,000 tracts, and 20,000 biblical pictures.

Enthusiasm for the Inner Mission, however, dwindled quickly following the death of its major supporters, and members decided to dissolve the Provincial Committee in 1859. They argued that the Inner Mission ministries were the responsibility of the newly created parish councils and district synods. The Central Committee in Berlin was displeased with their decision and sent a representative to encourage the reestablishment of a Provincial Committee in 1863, and again in 1864. Only after a West Prussian Provincial Committee was organized in Danzig in 1864 did pastors and interested lay people in East Prussia reestablish a Provincial Committee. When Friedrich Oldenberg, a major force in the first Provincial Committee, returned to his natal province as the Managing Director of the Central Committee for Inner Mission in 1865, the reestablished Provincial Committee had only fifty-one members. For a detailed presentation, see Groh, Nineteenth Century German Protestantism, 244-49, 268-69, and Hubatsch, Geschichte der evangelischen, Bd. 1, 334-37.

(15.) The proposal would be denied. Roger Aubert and others, eds., The Church in the Age of Liberalism (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 74-75.

(16.) Michael B. Gross, "The Catholic Missionary Crusade and the Protestant Revival in Nineteenth-Century Germany," in Protestants, Catholics, and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914, ed. Helmut Walser Smith (New York: Berg, 2001), 245-65.

(17.) Ibid., 249-53; Jonathan Sperber, Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), 57-60; Erwin Gatz, Rheinische Volksmission im 19. Jahrhundert, dargestellt am Beispiel des Erzbistums Koln: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Seelsorge im Zeitalter der katholischen Bewegung (Dusseldorf: L. Schwann, 1963).

(18.) In 1857, for example, Father Pruss in Allenstein, Prussian Ermland, reported to Archbishop Joseph Ambrose Geritz, Bishop of Ermland 1840-67, that Protestants and Jews "knelt together and wept at the sermons" during the mission festival in Allenstein. Michael B. Gross, "The Catholic Missionary Crusade and the Protestant Revival in Nineteenth-Century Germany," in Protestants, Catholics, and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914, 263, n. 56. In Prussian Ermland, for example, the Jesuits, at the invitation of Bishop Joseph Geritz (1783-1867), conducted sixteen missions between 1852 and 1863. In Allenstein (1857, 1863) and Wuttrienen (1863) the missionaries preached in German and Polish. Father Superior Praszalowicz led the successful weeklong campaign in Wuttrienen by preaching three sermons a day in Polish and hearing confessions between services. Clergy reported that some ten thousand people participated in the Wuttrienen mission, while some fifteen thousand attended the event in Allenstein. Bernhard Duhr, ed., Aktenstucke zur Geschichte der Jesuiten-Missionen in Deutschland, 1848-1872 (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herdersche Verlagshandlung, 1903), 311-12. The missions in Prussian Ermland included Allenstein (1857, 1863); Bischofstein (1859); Braunsberg (1852); Elbing (1854); Gross Kollen (1863); Heilsberg (1853); Kalwe (1857); Marienburg (1853); Mehlsack (1854); Pestlin (1856); Rossel (1853); Seeburg (1854); Wartenberg (1857); Wormditt (1860); Wuttrienen (1863).

(19.) Sperber, Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Germany, 98.

(20.) Marjorie Lamberti, "Religious Conflicts and German National Identity in Prussia 1866-1914," in Modern Prussia, ed. Philip Dury, 171; Sperber, Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Germany, 157-59.

(21.) Lamberti, 169-82.

(22.) The cottages were called Chaluppe and the landless peasants were Chaluppniks.

(23.) EZA, Berlin, 7/19141, Undersecretary Kassa to Rudolph von Uechtritz, 29 August 1859, 2B.

(24.) Ibid., 1B.

(25.) Ibid., 5B.

(26.) Von Kries reported in April 1860 that the Catholic population had only increased 10 percent while the Protestant population increased 12 percent between 1840 and 1858. Kammel, Die Muttersprach, 130-31. According to Waiter Hubatsch, the Mazurian districts had five Catholic parishes in 1851. By 1865, the Catholic Church had fourteen churches in the districts, with thirteen priests, twenty schools, and nineteen schoolteachers. Hubatsch, Geschichte der evangelischen, Bd. 1, 413.

(27.) Jan Jenczio had complained to the Consistory about the drinking of Pastor Karl Schrage (1805-58) and was responsible for his removal in 1857, three years before Dr. Carl Moll was appointed the General Superintendent. District Superintendent, Pastor Ernst Stern (1786-1876), a close relative of Schrage's, had defended his cousin's behavior and was subsequently forced to relinquish the Office of District Superintendent in 1860. Jasinski, Zur Kunde Masurens, 128. For information about the career of General Superintendent Carl Moll, see Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1885), s.v. "Moll, Karl Bernhard" by C. Alfred Hase, 22:115-17.

(28.) Heinrich von Muhler was the Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education between March 17, 1862 and January 17, 1872, and simultaneously the President of the Senior Consistory from November 2, 1863 to January 25, 1865. Goeters, Rogge, and Mau, Die Geschichte der Evangelischen, 2:500.

(29.) My translation from Kammel, Die Muttersprache, 134.

(30.) Ibid.

(31.) Martin Gerhardt, Ein Jahrhundert Innere Mission: Die Geschichte des Central-Ausschusses fur die Innere Mission der Deutschen Evangelischen Kirche, 1. Die Wichernzeit (Gutersloh: C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 1948), 273-75.

(32.) Jasinski, Zur Kunde Masurens, 29-31.

(33.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 2. The name of the translator was noted in Jasinski, 68.

(34.) The history of the region was provided by C. J. Cosack's Paulus Speratus Leben und Lieder: Ein Beitrag zur Reformationsgeschichte (Braunschweig: C.A. Schwetschke, 1861), the unpublished manuscripts of the German authority on Mazuria, Max Toppen (1822-93), and the letters of Martin Gerss (1808-95) with whom Oldenberg corresponded between September 1865 and January 1866. The correspondence with Martin Gerss was noted in Jasinski, 41.

(35.) Table of Contents in the Oldenberg report include the following subject headings and page numbers: The Land, 4; The Name, 5; The Past, 6; The Present, 29; The Language, 29; The Culture, 30; Life, 36; Customs and Traditions, 42; Religious Life, 54; Church and Worship Services, 55; Parochial Visits, 59; Jan Jenczio, 64; Superstition and Catholicism, 74; Alcoholism, 88; Laborers, 96; Mazur and German, 97; Agrarian Societies and Highways, 99; Border Closures, 103; Ownership and Credit, 107; Taxes, 110; Catholicism and Urgent Needs of the Evangelical Church and Its Schools, 121; Lyck, 121; Johannisburg, 123; Milken and Rhein, 124; Sensburg, 126; Osterode, 128; Neidenburg, 127; Ortelsburg, 145; Mixed Marriages and Catholics, 152; Schools, 157; Poor Defenses against Catholic Church, 167; Baptists, 169; Small Towns and Parish Councils, 170; Needs, 172; Wishes, 172, Recommendations 173. EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 3.

(36.) Ibid., 23, 150.

(37.) Early history of Mazuria, ibid., 9-14. For a detailed description of the Reformation in Mazuria in English, see Karl Krueger, "Psalms and Potatoes: The Congregations of the Polish-speaking Protestant Mazurians in East Prussia, Suwalki, Poland, and the United States" (Ph. D. diss., University of Michigan, 1992).

(38.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 14-23. Mazurian living conditions are described on pages 36-37, 89.

(39.) Ibid., 30, 32, 36, 41-42, 89-91.

(40.) Ibid., 90.

(41.) Oldenberg discussed Mazurian spirituality in sections entitled Culture, Life, Customs and Traditions, Religious Life, Church and Worship Services, Intercessory Prayers, Jenczio, as well as the section entitled Superstition and Catholicism.

(42.) Faithful worship attendance and a cappella singing before worship, EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 57-58.

(43.) Ibid., 31.

(44.) Anieli z nieba zstapili, J. Wasianski, Nowo Wydany KancyonalPruski (Krolewiec [Konigsberg]: Hartung, 1907), Nr. 26. (hereafter cited as Wasianski).

(45.) Narodzil sie nam Zbawiciel, ibid., Nr. 39.

(46.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 48-51. The Mazurians referred to the service as Jutrznia.

(47.) Ibid., 28, 63, 74. The devotional literature that Oldenberg found in Mazurian homes included Martin Luther (1483-1546), House Sermons [Postilla Domowa] (Krolewiec [Konigsberg]: Jan Daubmann, 1574); David Hollaz (1648-1713), Evangelic Order of Grace [Zbawienny Laski Ewangeliczney Porzadek] (Margrabowa: Edward Peglau, 1859); Johann Arndt (1555-1621), True Christianity [Szesc Ksigg O Prawdziwym Chrzescianstwie O zbawienney Pokucie] (Krolewiec [Konigsberg]: Hartung, 1845); Samuel Dombrowski (1577-1625), Sermons[Kazania na niedziele i swieta catego roku X. Samuela Dambrowskiego)] (Lku: Wilhelm Menzel, 1853); and Christian Langenhausen (1660-1727), Children's Sermons [Postyla dla Dziatek, to iest: Krotkie a proste wyklady Ewangieliy na niedziele i Swieta] (Krolewiec [Konigsberg]: Schultzsche Hofbuchdruckerei, 1861). Jerzy Wasianski assembled the Mazurian hymnal, Nowo Wydany Kancyonal Pruski. After graduating from the University of Konigsberg, Jerzy Wasianski served as a deacon at Polish St. Nicholas in Konigsberg and later as pastor in the town of Neidenburg. Using the German hymnal of his mentor Georg Rogall as a guide, Wasianski organized 735 Polish hymns under 59 liturgical and theological headings. The oblong volume, 18 mo. in format, was published in Konigsberg until 1925 and remained a unique creation in the Mazurian canon because it included hymns of Polish-speaking clerics, as well as Polish translations of German chorales. For a bibliography of Protestant materials in Polish, see W1adyslaw Chojnacki, Bibliografia Polskich Drukow Ewangelickich Ziem Zachodnich I Potnocnych, 1530-1939 (Warsaw: Zwiastun, 1966).

(48.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 63-73; Oldenberg also met a remarkable young girl by the name of Gottlinde in Ortelsburg. She had memorized the entire Mazurian hymnal, large sections of the Bible, as well as Johann Arndt's True Christianity. Despite her exceptional abilities, the Inner Mission inspector devoted only a few sentences to her achievements because her gender limited her usefulness in the patriarchal world of nineteenth-century Protestantism. Ibid., 64.

(49.) Sperber, Popular Catholicism, 94.

(50.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 60-61.

(51.) Ibid., 43-45. Zapros Jezusa na wesele, Wasianski, Nr. 39. The German chorale was "Wer den Ehestand will erwahlen."

(52.) The harvest festival was known as Plon.

(53.) Chwala Bogu z wysokosci, Wasianski, Nr. 210.

(54.) EZA, Berlin, 7/352112], 46-47. Ju zem obiad odprawili, Wasianski, Nr. 705.

(55.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 74-87.

(56.) Ibid., 75, 77, 80.

(57.) Ibid., 57-58, 76, 78.

(58.) Ibid., 82, 84, 86.

(59.) Ibid., 81-82, 86.

(60.) Ibid., 56, 76, 86.

(61.) Ibid., 54.

(62.) Ibid., 115-16, 120, 149-50.

(63.) Ibid., 117-18.

(64.) Ibid., 10, 24, 52, 77, 117.

(65.) Unlike impoverished Mazurians who subdivided their smallholdings among all their sons, landowners in Ermland, Poles, and affluent Bavarians who promote a "very bigoted form of Catholicism," gave the entire farm to the oldest son. Younger sons were bought out or entered the priesthood. Inexpensive land was scarce in Ermland, so young men interested in farming looked to neighboring Mazuria. Ibid., 118.

(66.) Ibid., 151.

(67.) Ibid., 169.

(68.) Ibid., 121-52.

(69.) Ibid., 146.

(70.) Ibid., 96.

(71.) Ibid., 157-61.

(72.) Ibid., 92, 94.

(73.) Ibid., 159.

(74.) The German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) was born in Mohrungen, East Prussia, and studied at the University of Konigsberg. At the conclusion of his studies he moved to Riga, then became the General Superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Weimar. Herder argued for a recognition of and respect for the Volk and their cultures. Judging other cultures according to an external or supposed superior standard promoted misunderstandings because it violated their sacred right to uniqueness.

(75.) Matthew Levinger, Enlightened Nationalism: The Transformation of Prussian Political Culture, 1806-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 203.

(76.) For an analysis of this transformation within the Mazurian context, see Andreas Kossert, Preussen, Deutsche oder Polen?: Die Masuren im Spannungsfeld des ethnischen Nationalismus, 1870-1956 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001).

(77.) EZA, Berlin, 7/3521[2], 74.

(78.) Kammel, Die Muttersprache, 146-47.

(79.) Max Toppen, Geschichte Masurens (Danzig: n.p., 1870), xxxv.

(80.) Remus's recommendations are my translation of Kammel. Die Muttersprache, 163. The Luther book published following Oldenberg's visit was Hermann Theodor Wangenmann, Marcin Luter, Doktor stowa Bozego (Barmen: Johann Freidrich Steinhaus, 1868), noted in Hubatsch, Geschichte der evangelischen, 1:413. The Remus quote is my translation of Hubatsch, ibid., 1:415.

(81.) Ibid., 1:415; Kammel, Die Muttersprache, 165-68. Heinrich yon Muhler resigned as Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education on January 17, 1872. Ludwig Mathis, the President of the Senior Consistory, resigned on June 30, 1872.

(82.) "Article XX," in The Book of Concord, eds. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 52, 54.

(83.) Gangolf Hubinger, "Chapter 7: Confessionalism," in Imperial Germany: A Historiographical Companion, ed. Roger Chickering (London: Greenwood, 1996), 162.

(84.) Mazurians in East Prussia were an impoverished agrarian people, speaking a Polish dialect and, like the Polish population in Silesia, had no formal contact with Polish culture. Unlike the Polish population in Prussian Silesia who were Catholic, the Prussian Mazurians were Protestant and dominated by a Prussian German clergy. For further discussion of the Polish population in Silesia, see Hagen, Germans, Poles, and Jews, 7.

(85.) Gerhard Lindermann, "Die preussisch-deutsche Reichsgrundung 1870/1871 und die polnische Minderheit," Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte 15:1 (2002): 34, 39, 42; Hubatsch, Geschichte der evangelischen, 1:416.

(86.) Lindermann, "Die preussisch-deutsche Reichsgrundung 1870-1971 und die polnische Minderheit," Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte 15 (Heft 1:2002): 40-41.

Karl Krueger is an associate professor of the History of Christianity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
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