Reiswitz, George Leopold, Baron (1764-1828)
George Leopold, Baron of Reiswitz (Reisswitz), royal councilor and knight of the order of St. John, a friend of the Mennonites, was born of an old family of Silesian nobility at Moschen, Upper Silesia, Germany, on 7 February 1764. He and Friedrich Wadzeck published the book Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Mennoniten-Gemeinden in Europa und America, statistischen, historischen und religiosen Inhalts (Berlin, 1821). The foreword presents the purpose of the book to be to protect the Mennonites from persecution by an objective illumination of their history, their principles, their life, and their attitudes. It contains 392 pages, and contains information on the Mennonite congregations in Prussia, privileges, confessions of faith, also a collection of laws and regulations passed against them, as well as on Menno Simons and the Münsterite and Müntzer "abominations," with proof that the Mennonites had nothing in common with them, and also opinions concerning the Mennonites in France, and concerning the "Sauds in East India, a religious sect that conspicuously resembles the Mennonites and Quakers," a very inexact and incorrect list of the sources on the history of the Mennonites, the account of a legal battle (see Riesen, David van), the census of the Mennonite congregations in Prussia, and information on the Mennonite settlements in South Russia and Caucasia. The statements and assertions are in many cases out of date, and thus detract from the value of the book.
The second part of the book appeared eight years later under the title, Beitrage zur Kenntniss der taufgesinnten Gemeinden oder der Mennoniten, statistischen, historischen und religiösen, auch juristischen Inhalts. It was published by Reiswitz, Wadzeck having died in the interim, at Breslau in 1829. Its contents are as follows: (1) "Notes of a scholar of the Mennonite faith concerning information on the Mennonite congregations, which has been furnished by several recent authors." (2) "Presentation of the organization of the West Prussian Mennonite congregations, with respect to their payment of dues to the church, parish, and schools to other religious parties and other organizations." (3) "Concerning the Mennonites" (an attempt at a historical presentation by means of excerpts from various writings). (4) "Concerning the creed of the various denominations similar to the Mennonites and yet essentially different from them" (Waldenses, Quakers, and Methodists). (5) "Concerning the attitude of the Mennonites toward government and their participation in public offices." (6) "Additional information on the life of Menno Simons." (7) "Directory of all the Mennonite congregations in Europe." (8) "Information on the origin of the Mennonite congregations in East Prussia and Lithuania, according to Crichton and some manuscript data," and "Privileges of the Mennonites of West Prussia and Lithuania." (9) "Concerning the immigration of the Mennonites to Russia and the principles of government established for that purpose (a historical presentation)." (10) "Concerning the right of the Mennonites to possess property." (11) "Concerning the refusal of the Mennonites to render military service." (12) "Historical presentation of the various legal stipulations concerning the military obligations of the Prussian Mennonites." Then follows an appendix containing supplementary facts on refusal to do military service, statistics of the congregations of the Bavarian Rhine district, a law on the oath, the number of Mennonites in America, the English language periodicals of the Anabaptists, a list of villages in Lithuania where Mennonites had settled, names of Mennonites who owned land in Lithuania, a list of the elders and preachers of the Mennonites in South, East, and West Prussia, Lithuania, Poland, and the recently settled colonies in Russia. This book of 375 pages has at the end a directory of Mennonite families in the "Marienwerder and Danzig Cammer-Departement," besides two pictures of the Mennonite church in Danzig and a map of the lands of the Mennonites and other German settlers in the province of Ekaterinoslav, Russia . The numerous misprints and inexact statements as well as the omissions are very annoying. Nevertheless both books are of value for the history of the Mennonites. -- Neff
Baron von Reiswitz and Friedrich Wadzeck published in 1824 a Glaubensbekenntnis der Mennoniten und Nachricht von ihren Colonien, nebst Lebensbeschreibung Menno Simons. Concerning the origin of Anabaptism in Switzerland and its spread to South Germany, Holland, and to West Prussia the authors apparently lacked information, for by way of introduction they say, "The origin of this Christian religious party is very obscure." Their discussion in general does not go beyond Menno's leaving the Catholic Church, the confession of faith by Cornelis Ris, and the history of the Mennonites in Prussia, with the exception of the emigration to Russia. A detailed account of a legal contest on the question of the nonresistance of the Mennonites of West Prussia is presented. On the whole the authors try to do justice to the Mennonites and approach the Anabaptist movement with a respectable understanding. -- SG
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: 462 f.
Cite This Article
Neff, Christian and Samuel Geiser. "Reiswitz, George Leopold, Baron (1764-1828)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 Jan 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Reiswitz,_George_Leopold,_Baron_(1764-1828)&oldid=146696.
Neff, Christian and Samuel Geiser. (1959). Reiswitz, George Leopold, Baron (1764-1828). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Reiswitz,_George_Leopold,_Baron_(1764-1828)&oldid=146696.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 282-283. All rights reserved.
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