v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel


1920 to 1940 - Weimar Republic and Nazi Dictatorship

May 1920
Opening of a school for 120 young girls. The school serves to qualify for entry to various higher education schools in the cities and to guarantee protestant education of the children.

21 June 1921
Efforts that began in 1904 to reorganize the management and administrative structure culminate in a resolution on the form of the institutional association of Bethel, Sarepta and Nazareth. The “v. Bodelschwinghschen Anstalten” (v. Bodelschwingh Institutions) are born. From this date the three foundations, i.e. Bethel, Sarepta and Nazareth, only bear the name “v.Bodelschwingh Institutions”.

Establishment of the “Volga Wards” for German children. The wards are set up because of a famine in Russia at this time. Many Russian-German families had migrated north, and many children lost their parents. Bethel and Hoffnungstal admit women with children or orphans after German authorities agree to take in refugees. Many children do not know their dates of birth. Boys are given 6 March as their birthday (in honor of Pastor Bodelschwingh), and girls are given 20 February as their date of birth (in honor of Frieda von Bodelschwingh).

Establishment of the Bethel film library.

14 June 1924
First German Evangelical Church Rally(Kirchentag). Special events held at the Assapheum and Sarepta schools. Services held at the Church in the Wood. Commemorative ceremony held at Pastor Bodelschwingh’s grave.

Pastor Fritz von Bodelschwingh travels as Bethel’s representative to the Stockholm Ecumenical Conference "Life and Work" for practical Christianity.

Easter 1926
Opening of the remedial school for boys aged 13 and older.

24 September 1927
Ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a new school building. The building is given the name Friedrich von Bodelschwingh School.

End of 1927
Bethel purchases 3,500 morgen (approx. 7,000 acres) of fallow land near Paderborn called Hermannsheide and opens a second Workers’ Colony.

Opening of Sigmarshof, a rural home for young people located in Hermannsheide for unemployed youth. The aim is to find agricultural jobs for them.

Bethel participates in setting up a large camp for the voluntary work corps. The camp is named Staumühle. The camp is located on the edge of large military maneuver grounds in Senne. Young people assembled at the camp give cultural performances on the premises.

21 June 1931
Laying of the foundation stone for construction of the Mara Epilepsy Clinic. The building is to serve as an admission ward for men, women and children. It has rooms for work and examinations and for personnel. The building is dedicated in the spring of 1933.

Print runs of Bethel publications: Missions-Nachrichten (Mission News) 9,500 monthly, Aufwärts (Upwards) 9,500 daily, Beth-El 10,700 monthly, Licht im Dunkel (Light in the Dark) 17,000 monthly, Kindergabe (The Gift of Children) 30,000 monthly, Unser Ziel (Our Goal) 44,500 weekly, Für Herz und Haus (For Heart & Home) 69,000 weekly, Kindergabe (The Gift of Chilren) 205,000 weekly, Westfälisches Sonntagsblatt (Westphalian Sunday News) 38,000 weekly, Bote von Bethel (Bethel Messenger) 500,000 quarterly.

26 May 1933
Fritz von Bodelschwingh is appointed Reich Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

24 June 1933
Fritz von Bodelschwingh resigns from office as protest against the “German Christians”. Bodelschwingh meets with General Hindenburg at Neudeck Estate.

December 1933
The “Bethel Declaration” is published as an early document in the dispute among the churches. The document may be appropriately regarded as the precursor to the 1934 “Declaration of Barmen” of the confessing church.

10 March 1936
The Bethel board of management adopts a resolution to close the Bethel Savings Bank. The Reich Financial Institutions Act makes this resolution necessary.

The Sarepta Deaconesses’ Mother House has 2,006 nurses at the end of the year. 80% of them work on wards located outside of Bethel. This is Sarepta’s highest membership figure ever.

23 March 1939
The National Socialist government’s secret police (Gestapo) closes the theological school.

1 September 1939
Adolf Hitler signs the Euthanasia Order and commissions his personal physician, Dr. Brandt, and Reich Leader Bouhler to commence killing disabled persons.

October 1939
Bethel’s various institutions receive the first report forms requesting information on resident patients.

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