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The Military Service Exemption of the Mennonites of Provincial Prussia

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The publication of this English translation of Wilhelm Mannhardt's book, originally written in German and published in 1863, makes a significant contribution to understanding the Prussian Mennonite story. [...] Now this translation of Mannhardt's book on Mennonites' belief in non-resistance and exemption from military service further adds to an understanding of this era of The publication of this English translation of Wilhelm Mannhardt's book, originally written in German and published in 1863, makes a significant contribution to understanding the Prussian Mennonite story. [...] Now this translation of Mannhardt's book on Mennonites' belief in non-resistance and exemption from military service further adds to an understanding of this era of Mennonite history. This book was an important publication by the Danzig area Mennonite community, and thus provides insight into some of the major discussions in this late nineteenth century Mennonite community. Wilhelm Mannhardt wrote his book at a time when the Prussia state was threatening to revoke Mennonite exemptions from military service. As Prussia was reforming itself into a more modern state, it argued that all citizens were now expected to contribute equally to the nation state, and that special privileges, like exemptions from military service, were no longer going to be extended to its citizens. Only the sons of the highest ranking German nobility would be exempt from military service. This new situation created a crisis for Mennonite Churches in the Vistula area. For them non-resistance, and its corollary, exemption from military service, defined who they were. To accept military service would be to deny their fundamental identity. In an excellent introductory essay, Jantzen and Thiesen discuss this tension between the claims of modernity, and the faith claims of a church that believes in peace. The authors show the sharp conflicts this tension created within Prussia and within the Mennonite churches, a tension which eventually caused the majority of Prussian Mennonite churches in the Vistula region to accept military service, and reject 300 years of identity as a peace church. Adapted from book review by John J. Friesen.


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The publication of this English translation of Wilhelm Mannhardt's book, originally written in German and published in 1863, makes a significant contribution to understanding the Prussian Mennonite story. [...] Now this translation of Mannhardt's book on Mennonites' belief in non-resistance and exemption from military service further adds to an understanding of this era of The publication of this English translation of Wilhelm Mannhardt's book, originally written in German and published in 1863, makes a significant contribution to understanding the Prussian Mennonite story. [...] Now this translation of Mannhardt's book on Mennonites' belief in non-resistance and exemption from military service further adds to an understanding of this era of Mennonite history. This book was an important publication by the Danzig area Mennonite community, and thus provides insight into some of the major discussions in this late nineteenth century Mennonite community. Wilhelm Mannhardt wrote his book at a time when the Prussia state was threatening to revoke Mennonite exemptions from military service. As Prussia was reforming itself into a more modern state, it argued that all citizens were now expected to contribute equally to the nation state, and that special privileges, like exemptions from military service, were no longer going to be extended to its citizens. Only the sons of the highest ranking German nobility would be exempt from military service. This new situation created a crisis for Mennonite Churches in the Vistula area. For them non-resistance, and its corollary, exemption from military service, defined who they were. To accept military service would be to deny their fundamental identity. In an excellent introductory essay, Jantzen and Thiesen discuss this tension between the claims of modernity, and the faith claims of a church that believes in peace. The authors show the sharp conflicts this tension created within Prussia and within the Mennonite churches, a tension which eventually caused the majority of Prussian Mennonite churches in the Vistula region to accept military service, and reject 300 years of identity as a peace church. Adapted from book review by John J. Friesen.

2 review for The Military Service Exemption of the Mennonites of Provincial Prussia

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Klassen Brown

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