Kriegsheim (formerly known as Kresheim until 1794 and also known as Griesheim) is a village near Worms in Rheinhessen, Germany. It is located seven miles west of the City of Worms on the west bank of the Rhine River in the heart of the German Lower (Rhenish) Palitinate in between the cities of Ludwigshafen and Mainz. After 1815 it belonged to the Alzey district of the Palatinate. It was the seat of a Mennonite congregation until 1820; since 1821 the adjacent Monsheim is its center. In 1969 Kriegsheim was incorporated into Monsheim.
The origins of the congregation here presumably lie in the early period of the Anabaptist movement. For the period 1588-1608 there are sparse official records, which afford a glance into the lot of an oppressed, long-established Anabaptist group (reports of the local Reformed pastor and his inspector to the church council, measures passed by the Burgrave of Alzey and the government at Heidelberg), which is typical of the suppressive attitude of the Palatinate, especially in the Alzey district. In 1600 there were 13 couples in Kriegsheim; in 1601 a report mentions 66 persons. Cross-examinations by the Burgrave of Alzey on 29 December 1601 and 11 January 1602 were fruitless. The Anabaptists did not have the local clergy marry them, were designated as "despisers of the holy sacraments" by the state church, were even said to have mocked churchgoers. They were by trade craftsmen and peasants (weavers, farmers, saw filers, glaziers, cobblers, and vinedressers).
The following family names are listed: Strohm, Zunich, Moroldt, Meyer, Schmidt, Labach, Scherer, Bidinger, Herstein, Bekker, Mezger, Brosam, and Bischoff. Among the citizens they seem to have been respected, since they were apparently given public office "before other subjects" (in the list of 1608 a field-keeper was arrested). "Subjects" even married the children of Anabaptists, which is the more remarkable because the Burgrave of Alzey had in 1588 reckoned the Kriegsheim heretics among the serfs. This group of Anabaptists apparently did not disapprove of mixed marriages or holding civil office; in this respect the original Palatine Anabaptists differed from the stricter Swiss Brethren, who came after the Thirty Years' War. They had a leader (Vorsteher) and held their meetings at night. In a house between Kriegsheim and Pfeddersheim a well-attended meeting was surprised on 13 August 1608, and two Vorsteher who preached were arrested. The Kriegsheim congregation appears to have survived the storms of the Thirty Years' War which devastated the Palatinate; it was augmented by Swiss Brethren who began to arrive in 1650.
About 1657 a group of Kriegsheim Mennonites joined the Quakers through the influence of Ames. But this Quaker group emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1685; thus members of the Kriegsheim group were a part of the early German settlement at Germantown. The brief period during which there were Quakers at Kriegsheim was marked by a series of conflicts with the church and the state. There was also tension between them and the Mennonites, as a letter written by Hinrich Cassel, a Mennonite preacher of Gerolsheim, in 1679 shows. The Quaker writings breathe the spirit of the English Revolution, in sharp contrast to the "devoted subject" style of Mennonite petitions. In contrast to the Mennonites, the Quakers refused all payment of taxes to church or state, the large or small tithe, or even congregational fees. "It seems strange to us that money is required of us to pay for our liberty of conscience." Confiscation of crops, cattle, furniture, and wine, as well as arrest and imprisonment were the order of the day. It is to be feared, writes the "entire poor congregation at Kriegsheim" to the Oberamt in 1680, that "the best inhabitants will leave the village and settle elsewhere."
The Quakers were strengthened in their radical position by emissaries from England, who reported back to the Quaker annual conference in London -- William Penn was also in Kriegsheim in 1667; nevertheless in 1664 they succeeded in obtaining an investigation of events in Kriegsheim, probably by means of a letter written by the village schoolmaster, John Philley, to the elector, which resulted in negotiations with the Quakers and Mennonites in the presence of the author of the letter. In consequence the Mennonites were granted toleration on 4 August 1664, which also applied to the Quakers, who were frequently officially called "Manists." In 1669 the government decided "that the Quakers either pay money for their religious freedom as the Anabaptists did or be put out of the country." In 1685 they were expelled.
In 1710 the Mennonites of Kriegsheim were compelled to do military service, not only to be a guard under arms, but even to join the regular militia. Their protest to the government at Heidelberg in 1711 resulted in their release from these duties the following year.
The size of the Kriegsheim church can be estimated from the tables drawn up for the electoral cabinet for the levy of the protection fee. According to these lists of Mennonites, Kriegsheim had 52 persons in 1680, and 41 in 1773. In 1738 the following family names were registered: Voldt, Bäcker, Strohm, Kühn, Kramer, Janson, Müller, Hüthwohl.
A protocol of 1768 shows that the Mennonites of the Zeller Valley (Lichti and Linscheid of Harxheim) were members of the Kriegsheim church. The same is true of Monsheim; for this protocol is signed by David Mollinger as the president of the Kriegsheim church. The Kindenheim Mennonites were also counted as part of Kriegsheim. In 1803 Preacher Christian Eymann signed the Ibersheim Resolutions for Kriegsheim.
Peter Kolb was an elder of the Kriegsheim congregation in the early 18th century; in 1728 he was succeeded by Christian Weber, who served until about 1770. The Dutch [[Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de Vereenigde Nederlanden|Naamlijst]], which always lists Kriegsheim as "Griesheim," names the following ministers of the 18th century: Wilhelm Krämer, Johann Schörger, Henrich Müller, all serving until about 1769, Henrich Strohm 1758-90, Peter Müller until about 1775, Michel Stiess, preacher from 1766, elder from 1772 until after 1802, Jacob Krehbiel 1763-ca. 1784, Jacob Kägy 1771- ca. 1784, Christian Eymann from 1774, Peter Weber 1778-1781, Johann Dettweiler from 1784, Heinrich Krämer from 1788.
A complete list of the localities belonging to the Kriegsheim church at the beginning of the 19th century is found in a register drawn up for the erection of a new church about 1820. When the first theologically trained minister in South Germany, Leonhard Weydmann, was employed (1818-1836 at Monsheim, then at Krefeld), he was promised a new church building. The villages enumerated are Biedesheim, Bockenheim, Bubenheim, Dirmstein, Kindenheim, Kriegsheim, Monsheim, Niederflorsheim, Pfeddersheim, and Offstein; and the family names were Bühm, Christoffel, Dettweiler, Eymann, Geber, Hahn, Hüthwohl, Hirschler, Hiestand, Janson, Krehbühl, Kieferndorf, Neef, Krämer, Möllinger, Kaege, Rupp, Seitz, Stauffer, Strohm, Schneider, Vogt, Weis, Weber, Wiehner.
The Kriegsheim Mennonites had their own cemetery; the Catholic church now stands on the site. The hall in which they had held their meetings being in need of repair as well as being too small, it was sold in May 1820, especially since it was exposed to floods of the Pfrimm. The proceeds were applied to the new building at Monsheim.
Correll, Ernst. Das Schweizerische Täufermennonitenium. Tübingen, 1925.
Fellmann, Walter. "Kriegsheiraer Mennoniten und Quäker in ihrer religiösen Verschiedenheit." Beiträge zur Geschichte der Mennoniten. Weierhof, 1938: 19-24.
Hege, Christian. Die Täufer in der Kurpfalz. Frankfurt, 1908.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 572 f.
Hubben, W. Die Quäker in der deutschen Vergangenheit. Leipzig, 1929.
Neff, Christian. "Geschichtliches aus der Gemeinde Monsheim." Mennonitische Blätter (1892): Nos. 1-4.
Cite This Article
Fellmann, Walter. "Kriegsheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 29 Aug 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kriegsheim_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=95669.
Fellmann, Walter. (1957). Kriegsheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 August 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kriegsheim_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=95669.
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