Alexander Merensky

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alexander Merensky, ca.1905

Alexander Merensky (born June 8, 1837 in Panten (since 1945 Pątnów Legnicki ), district of Liegnitz , province of Silesia ; † May 22, 1918 in Berlin ) was a German Protestant missionary who had worked in South Africa ( Transvaal ) since 1859 on behalf of the Berlin Mission Society. was active.


Orphaned at an early age, Alexander grew up with relatives. In 1855 he entered the mission house in Berlin to be trained as a missionary. It was broadcast on November 23, 1858. Together with Karl-Heinrich Theodor Grützner, he traveled from Amsterdam by sailing ship to Cape Town and on to Natal .

On August 14, 1860, he and missionary Grützner founded the Gerlachshoop mission station near Lydenburg . Merensky was ordained there on January 11, 1861. Another mission station, Kchalathlolu, was inaugurated in August 1861. On October 15, 1863, Merensky married Marie Liers from Breslau . They lived together in Kchalatlolu for seven months (until May 1864). With the permission of the Bapedi , they founded the Ga-Ratau mission station about 15 km from the capital. This station was inaugurated in May 1864.

The marriage with Marie Liers had seven children, the fourth child Hans Merensky .

The Bapedi ruler Sekhukhune expelled Merensky from the mission because he saw him as a threat to his rule and accused him of collaborating with the Boers . Merensky bought a farm in the Middelburg district in the Transvaal Republic from his own resources in January 1865 . Together with missionary Grützner, he founded the Botshabelo mission station here on January 8, 1865 - a North Sotho word for "refuge". In 1869 a forge, a wagon workshop and a mill were built in Botshabelo. Many of the villagers learned their trade here. In Petermann's Geographische Mitteilungen in Berlin, Merensky published his first publication on the Zimbabwe ruins in 1869 . In it he had summarized research reports. He self-published the Original Map of Transvaal .

The Transvaal Republic was annexed by the British in 1877 and Sir Wolseley made Botshabelo his headquarters in the Transvaal. In the First Boer War in 1881 Merensky was the medical officer of the Boer troops. He was present in the battles for Laingsnek, Skuinshoogte and in the battle of Majuba Hill and described the events from his post in the Veldhospital , which he observed from a distance with a telescope. After the end of the war, both the British and the Boers distrusted him, and Merensky decided to resign from office in South Africa and return to Germany with his family. In 1883 he was appointed inspector of the Berlin Mission. In Germany he showed great interest in acquiring German colonial properties and became a member of Carl Peters' Society for German Colonization . He also wrote articles for the German Colonial Newspaper . In 1880 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina .

In 1890 he made a trip to the northern end of Lake Nyassa (now Lake Malawi in Malawi) in the Kondeland. There he founded two further mission stations, Wangemannshöhe and Manow. He later published a map of the area. On his return trip to Germany he visited Botshabelo again.

In Germany, the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg awarded him honorary doctorates for his scientific publications . Merensky died in Berlin and was buried in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Cemetery.

Today, in the museum village of Botshabelo near Middelburg, the Ndebele culture is cultivated and brought to the public.

Works (selection)

  • What is the best way to train negroes to work in plantations? Berlin, Verlag Walther & Apolant , 1886 digitized (second edition: Berlin: Süsserott, 1912; Koloniale Abhandlungen 64/65)
  • The work of the German missions. / A. Merensky. - Berlin, Buchh. the Berliner Evang. Missionsges., 1905
  • Statistical information about the status of the entire evangelical mission work at the turn of the century. / A. Merensky. - Berlin, Buchh. of the Berlin Evangelical Mission Society, 1902
  • The position of the mission on the people of the heathen peoples. / A. Merensky. - Berlin, [1900]
  • German work on the Njaßa, German East Africa. / Alexander Merensky. - Berlin: Berliner Evangelical Mission Society, 1894
  • What do we learn from the experiences of other peoples who attempted colonization in Africa? / Alexander Merensky. - Berlin, Matthies, 1890
  • Memories from missionary life in Southeast Africa (Transvaal) 1859-1882. / A. Merensky. - Bielefeld and Leipzig, Velhagen & Klasing, 1st edition 1888 ( digitized ); 2. through and possibly ed .: Memories from missionary life in the Transvaal 1859 - 1882. Berlin: Buchh. the evangel. Missionsgesellschaft, 1899, "Memories from Missionsleben in Transvaal (South Africa) 1859-1882, Berlin 1899", new ed. and introduced by Ulrich van der Heyden, Berlin: Edition Ost, 1996, the excerpt from the text An Investigation Trip in the Transvaal from the 1st edition has been published with a short biography in: From Greenland to Lambarene. Travel descriptions by Christian missionaries from three centuries. Edited by John Paul . Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Berlin 1952 (pages 114–128) = Kreuz-Verlag Stuttgart 1958 (pages 111–126).
  • Contributions to the knowledge of South Africa, geographical, ethnographic and historical content. / Alexander Merensky. - Berlin, publ. D. Mission House, 1875
  • Petrich, Hermann ; Merensky, Alexander: Alexander Merander Dr. theol. - A picture of life from the German evangelical mission of the last century. Berlin, publishing house of the bookstore of the Berlin Evangelical Mission Society, 1919
  • Merensky, Alexander: Memorandum on the economic value of the south.
  • Merensky, Alexander: Mission Atlas of the Evangelical Mission Society. Berlin, bookstore of the Evangelical Mission Society


  • Ulrich van der Heyden, Winfried Brose (Ed.): With a cross and a German flag, 100 years of the Gospel in southern Tanzania - On the work of the Berlin Mission in East Africa , 1993, ISBN 3-89473-520-1
  • Ulrich van der Heyden: The missionary Alexander Merensky as a scientist , in: From beetles, markets and people. Colonialism and Knowledge in the Modern Age , edited by Rebekka Habermas and Alexandra Przyrembel , Göttingen 2013, pp. 49–60. ISBN 978-3-525-30019-0
  • Michael Schubert: The black stranger: The image of the black African in the parliamentary and journalistic colonial discussion in Germany from the 1870s to the 1930s , 2003, Franz Steiner Verlag, ISBN 3-515-08267-0
  • Andrea Schulze: 'Build huts in God's name', Church land ownership in South Africa, the Berlin Mission and the Evangelical Lutheran Church between 1834 and 2005 , 2005, Franz Steiner Verlag, ISBN 3-515-08276-X
  • Tina Kühr: On a Civilizing Mission: The imperial civilization propaganda in the USA and in the German Empire, 1889-1914 , Bonn 2006, inaugural dissertation to obtain a doctorate from the Philosophical Faculty of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn, online university thesis in the German National Library
  • Hermann Theodor Wangemann: Maleo and Sekukuni. A picture of life from South Africa. The proceeds were intended for the Berlin Mission, in particular for the Botshabelo station. With 10 wood sticks. by G. Richter. Berlin, self-published by d. Mission House [1868]
  • Ernst DammannMerensky, Alexander. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 5, Bautz, Herzberg 1993, ISBN 3-88309-043-3 , Sp. 1294-1295.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sekhukhune's portrait at (English), accessed on July 9, 2014
  2. Mittheilungen from Justus Perthes' Geographischer Anstalt 15 (1869), p. 110 with reference to a letter to the "Transvaal Argus" dated October 12, 1868 ( online at Google Books ).