Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832)

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1828 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler. Source: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Goethe_(Stieler_1828).jpg Wikipedia Commons]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born 28 August 1749, died 22 March 1832, included some references to Mennonites in his writing and had some personal contact with them. In 1768, while recovering from a serious illness, Goethe wrote a versified letter to Friederike Oeser, describing himself in a series of similes, including the lines

Bald still, wie ein Hypochondrist,

Und sittig, wie ein Mennonist,

Und folgsam, wei ein gutes Lamm

On his journey up the Rhine in 1774 with Basedow and Lavater the three stopped at two Mennonite homes at Neuwied in the Palatinate, namely, the minister, Lorenz Friedenreich, and the noted clock-maker, Peter Kinzing. Lavater's diary makes interesting comment on the personality of the Mennonites. Goethe had some contact with Mennonites during his service as Minister of Economics in the government of Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar, when the latter attempted to establish Mennonite farmers on his land to improve agriculture.

The matter of Goethe and the Mennonites needs further inquiry. For further information on the contacts mentioned, see the items in the Bibliography.


Bach, Adolf, ed. Goethes Rheinreise mit Lavater und Basedow im Sommer 1774. Zurich, 1923: 119.

Correll, Ernst. Das Schweizerische Täufermennonitentum. Tübingen, 1925: 130 f.

Crous, Ernst. "Lavater, Basedow und Goethe bei den Mennoniten in Neuwied." Mennonitische Blätter (1930): 107.

Author(s) Elizabeth Horsch Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Elizabeth Horsch. "Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 Oct 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Goethe,_Johann_Wolfgang_von_(1749-1832)&oldid=94856.

APA style

Bender, Elizabeth Horsch. (1959). Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Goethe,_Johann_Wolfgang_von_(1749-1832)&oldid=94856.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1140. All rights reserved.

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