Donnersberg (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)

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Donnersberg, the highest mountain (2,320 ft., 687 meters) of the Haardt Mountains of the Palatinate, was once the seat of the worship of Thor (Thunder), hence the name. Until the early years of the 20th century there was on it a "Mennonite farm" (Mennonitenhof).

The first Mennonite family to live here was the Eymann family. In 1755 Michael Krehbiel, a great-grandson of the Peter Krehbiel, the first Mennonite to settle on the Weierhof (1682) after expulsion from the canton of Bern in Switzerland, leased it as a hereditary possession from the reigning prince. It contained nearly 200 acres of arable land and meadow. The farm remained in the hands of the Krehbiel family for 100 years, the grandson of the original purchaser dividing it with his brother-in-law Jakob Danner.

During the Palatine Revolt of 1849 against the rejection of the constitution adopted by the Frankfurt Parliament, the peace of the Mennonite farm was also broken.

Since the lease of the farm carried with it also certain rights to the use of other pasture and forest lands, the government tried by various means to reclaim possession of the farm for the hunting and wood rights attached to it, during the middle of the 19th century. Finally, after lengthy litigation the Krehbiel and Danner families were compelled to sell it to the state in 1854 for the sum of 24,000 florins, and settle on land nearby. -- Neff.

Mont Tonnerre was also the name given by the French, who occupied the Palatinate from the time of the French Revolution until 1814, to a government district with its center at Mainz, extending far beyond the present district called Palatinate. In 1811 Ferdinand Bodmann, the divisional superintendent of the prefecture at Mainz, in an annual report to be found in the archives at Speyer, characterized the Palatine Mennonites as "being occupied solely with that which concerns their faith and their personal affairs, indifferent to political events, the consequences of which do not extend to them, reminiscent of the patriarchal life of olden times." The description of eight pages, characterizing the Mennonites of the Donnersberg Department, i.e., of the entire region of the Palatinate, is of interest as being the first official document that openly presents the religious and moral customs of the Mennonites as non-injurious to church and state. Hitherto such judgments had been expressed at most only in the secret official records, and then acted upon with the old prejudice. "Simple clothing and simpler manners" were to this writer the marks that distinguished the Mennonites from Catholics and Protestants. His interest in their civil rights is evident in the opening description of the Mennonites: "Industriously and soberly they carry on their agriculture and cattle raising with fortunate results. Agriculture in our department owes much to this sect." Bodmann estimated their number as 2,200 individuals, having increased by 850 in nine years. "The craze for emigration, which has not left the Mennonites untouched," is given as a reason why they were not still more numerous. In the department they were living chiefly in Speyer, in the cantons of Bechtheim, Kirchheimbolanden, Mainz, and a few in the Zweibrücken district.

Strangely, the Amish of the district are called "Anabaptists." They differed from the Mennonites (says the Bodmann account) in that they let their beards grow. Both the Anabaptists and the Mennonites are described as peaceful and moral; their legal difficulties were arbitrated by the elders, and their conduct was influenced by church discipline."Tale-bearing and cursing are rare among them. They do not swear. . . . Their clothing and their homes are as simple as their customs and their manner of life. . . . Prosperity and cleanliness, but nowhere does one find signs of show or extravagance. They support the needy without regard for creed." Then he described the conscientiousness with which the Mennonites obey the law. War they do not consider permissible; but this religious opinion yields to the mighty law and they subject themselves to military conscription as obediently as other citizens. In order to reconcile their civil duty as much as possible with their faith, they have requested the emperor to grant them the favor of serving preferably with the transportation corps of the army. -- EHC


Ellenberger, Jakob. Bilder aus dem Pilgerleben : gesammelt in der Mennoniten-Gemeinde. Eichstock in Bayern : J. Ellenberger, 1878-1883: 88 ff.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 463-465.

Krehbiel, A. "Im Jahre 1849 auf dem Donnersberg." Nordpfälzer Geschichtsblätter No. 7 (1908).

Author(s) Christian Neff
Ernst H. Correll
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Neff, Christian and Ernst H. Correll. "Donnersberg (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 29 Nov 2023.,_Germany)&oldid=119222.

APA style

Neff, Christian and Ernst H. Correll. (1956). Donnersberg (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from,_Germany)&oldid=119222.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 84-85. All rights reserved.

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