Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer

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Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer (before 1940, Wiedertäufer), a series of possibly fifteen volumes of Anabaptist archival sources, published by the German Society for Reformation History (Verein für Reformationsgeschichte [VRG]) in its series Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte beginning in 1930. The series was planned and its preparation directed by the Kommission zur Erforschung des Tãufertums (Commission for Anabaptist Research) appointed by the VRG in 1920. To date the following volumes have appeared:

  • I. Herzogtum Württemberg (1930) 1199 pp., edited by Gustav Bossert Sr., completed by his son, Gustav Bossert Jr.;
  • II. Markgraftum Brandenburg (Bayern, I. Abteilung) (1934) 375 pp., Karl Schornbaum, editor;
  • III. Glaubenszeugnisse oberdeutscher Taufgesinnter I ( 1938) 270 pp., Lydia Müller, editor;
  • IV. Baden und Pfalz (1951) 574 pp., Manfred Krebs, editor;
  • V. Bayern, II. Abteilung (1951) 314 pp., Karl Schornbaum, editor;
  • VI. Strasbourg I (1958) 500 pp., edited by Karl Adam, J. Rott, and Manfred Krebs.

Volumes in preparation include:

  • Strasbourg II (Adam, Rott);
  • Alsace (Adam, Rott);
  • Glaubenszeugnisse II (Müller, Robert Friedmann);
  • Epistel der Hutterischen Brüder (Friedmann);
  • Württemberg II;
  • Niederrhein (G. Goeters).

A volume on Silesia was assigned to Theodor Wotschke (Breslau) before the war, but nothing has been delivered. Unassigned as yet are three more volumes on Bavaria including such important places as Augsburg and Nürnberg. The section on Switzerland, originally assigned to Leonhard von Muralt, was withdrawn from the German series, and was published as a Swiss series of 4-6 volumes, Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz, of which I. Zürich (1952) 428 edited by L. von Muralt and Walter Schmid, had appeared by the late 1950s. Additional volumes planned at the time included Berner Gespräch of 1538, Canton Bern, Basel, and Ostschweiz. The volume on Hesse, Wiedertäuferakten 1527-1626, 574 pp., edited by Walther Köhler, Walter Sohm, Theodor Sippell, and Günther Franz (1951), appeared in Volume IV of Urkundliche Quellen zur hessischen Reformationsgeschichte, which was Volume XI of Veröffentlichungen der Historischen Kommission für Hessen und Waldeck. For a report on other Anabaptist source publications see Historiography: Anabaptist.

The VRG, a German learned society founded in 1883, undertook in the period following World War I the publication of all the documents in the German language area of Europe bearing on the history of the Anabaptist movement from its beginning in 1525 down to the Thirty Years’ War (1618). This great undertaking was made possible by the grant of a generous subsidy from the Prussian state. Attempts to secure financial support in America failed. Unfortunately the inflation of the German currency in 1922-23 reduced the amount of the subsidy so much that the project was handicapped from the beginning. In spite of this, the editors for the various projected volumes were chosen and the majority of assignments completed before World War II, although only three volumes were actually published. Only one of these, Vol. I, Herzogtum Württemberg, prepared by Gustav Bossert, a stately volume published in 1930, appeared in full size according to plan with documents in extenso and full indices, although even this volume was not exhaustive. Volumes II and III, published in 1934 and 1938, appeared largely in extract form, and with meager indexing. Four additional Täuferakten volumes had been largely completed in manuscript before World War II, but not published since even the reduced subsidy from the Prussian state was finally canceled, and the resources of the VRG were too slender to continue without outside help, which was not forthcoming in adequate amount although the Mennonite Historical Society (Mennonitischer Geschichtsverein [MGV], founded by Christian Hege) made a small annual cash grant of 200 Marks for this purpose from 1937 to 1942. The publisher of the first three volumes, M. Hensius-Paul Eger Nachfolger in Leipzig, who was the publisher for all the publications of the VRG, being now in the Russian Zone and operating only on a restricted basis, surrendered his publication rights in 1947.

When it became fully clear after the close of World War II that the VRG would be unable to continue and complete the original Täuferakten undertaking, the MGV, encouraged by the prospect of American Mennonite financial aid and stimulated by the initiative and urgings of Eberhard Teufel of Stuttgart, decided at its annual meeting in May 1948 to undertake the project with the consent and co-operation of the VRG. The procedure set up by the MGV for the revived Täuferakten project was the creation of a Täuferakten-Kommission (TAK) to be composed of three representatives of the MGV and two of the VRG. The two societies function as joint publishers of the remainder of the series beginning with Volume IV. The VRG will make available all its completed manuscripts, and the MGV will endeavor to furnish the necessary finances through its American Mennonite connections. This is being done by direct subsidy contributions by the Historical Commissions of the two largest Mennonite bodies in North America, the Mennonite Church (MC) and the General Conference Mennonite Church, and by subsidy purchases of 200 copies per edition by the Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pennsylvania. All net profits from sales are pledged to further publications in the series.

The TAK was formally organized at a meeting in Heidelberg on 5 July 1948, as follows: chairman Ernst Crous (MGV), vice-chairman Heinrich Bornkamm (VRG), secretary Eberhard Teufel (MGV), treasurer H. S. Bender (MGV). Later Cornelius Krahn and Manfred Krebs were added. Upon the death of Eberhard Teufel in 1957, Heinold Fast was elected secretary.

The publication of the Anabaptist documents of the 16th century as envisaged in the above plans is an enterprise of the greatest importance not only to Anabaptist historiography but to church history as a whole. After centuries of neglect and even abuse, the Anabaptist movement is coming into its own in the modern understanding of the history of the Christian Church particularly in the Reformation period. The comprehensive and exhaustive account of the movement which is so urgently needed and which is essential for a final evaluation of Anabaptism awaits the publication of these documents and other source materials.


Bainton, Roland H. "Anabaptist Source Materials." Mennonite Life VIII (1953): 69 and following.

Bender, H. S. "The Täufer-Akten Publication Series of the Society for Reformation History." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXIII (1949): 48-52.

Eisenbeis, Walter. "Anabaptist Sources and Research." Mennonite Life XII (1957): 69 and following.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 417 f.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 30 Jun 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Quellen_zur_Geschichte_der_T%C3%A4ufer&oldid=146079.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 June 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Quellen_zur_Geschichte_der_T%C3%A4ufer&oldid=146079.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 237-238. All rights reserved.

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