Hans Bielenstein (Pastor)

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Hans Bielenstein (1910)
Pastorate at Neu-Autz

Hans Bielstein (* February 13 jul. / 25. February  1863 greg. In the pastorate of New Autz , Courland Governorate , Russian Empire ; † 13 January 1919 in Bauska , Latvia SPR ), actually Johannes Georg Wilhelm Bielstein , even Wilhelm Georg Johannes Bielenstein, written in Latvian Ansis Bīlenšteins or Johaness Georgs Vilhelms Bīlenšteins or Vilhelms Georgs Johans Bīlenšteins , was a German-Baltic clergyman and writer. He is considered a Protestant martyr and is recorded on the Riga Martyrs Stone.

The dates in this article are based on the Julian calendar for the period up to 1918 unless otherwise noted.


Training and ordination

Dorpat University around 1860

Hans Bielenstein went from 1873 to 1877 to the Bergmannsche Schule near Doblen (Latvian Dobele ) in Courland and from 1878 to 1883 to the Gouvernements-Gymnasium in Mitau (Latvian Jelgava ), which he graduated with the Abitur. After studying at the University of Dorpat from 1883 to 1887 , which he completed as a graduate student, he passed the exams before the consistory in Mitau in 1887 and his probationary year, which he took from 1887 to 1888 with General Superintendent Boettcher in Blieden (Latvian Blīdene ) in Courland, where he was tutor at the same time, ordained on May 15, 1888 in Doblen von Boettcher. Since February 10, 1884 he was a member of the Dorpat Theological Association, from 1885 to 1886 he was its treasurer. In 1886 he received the silver medal for preaching.

In November 1888, Hans Bielenstein succeeded his brother Emil Bielenstein as pastor in Ringen (Latvian Reņģe ) in Courland, as his brother succeeded the provost von Bilterling, who had left office a year earlier.

Outside employment

Hans Bielenstein was closely associated with the Latvian people because of his family character. In addition to his spiritual activities, he was, like the pastor Karl Schilling , murdered in 1905 , the provost Ludwig Zimmermann , murdered in 1906 , the clergy Alexander Bernewitz , Xaver Marnitz , Arnold von Rutkowski , Paul Fromhold-Treu , Christoph Strautmann , Karl Schlau , who were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1919 , Eberhard Savary , Eugen Scheuermann and Wilhelm Gilbert and, like the pastors Gustav Cleemann and Erwin Gross , who died as a result of their imprisonment with the Bolsheviks, full members of the Latvian Literary Society , which was dedicated to the study of the Latvian language, folklore and culture. This society, which Bielenstein served as secretary, was mainly supported by German-Baltic pastors and intellectuals. For the Latvians themselves, a higher education was hardly accessible at the time of the imperial Russian rule, their culture led a shadowy existence.

In December 1890, at a meeting of this society, he gave a lecture on the Latvian animal fairy tale, distinguishing it from the animal fable. He gave a lecture on Angelo de Gubernati's work "The Animals in Indo-European Mythology" and pointed out that animals embody aspects of nature in natural myths. Then he used example fairy tales from his father's collection such as “The fox as a beggar” or “Vom Hasen” to show that the Latvian animal fairy tales, like all Indo-European peoples, go back to natural myths. He did not go into the individual animals, but presented them according to different images of nature in order to then explain them.

On December 12, 1895, Hans Bielenstein gave a lecture on deewa dēli (in today's Latvian: Dieva dēli ; see under works ) at the annual meeting of the society in Mitau ( Jelgava in Latvian ).

Bielenstein was also a member of the Courland Society for Literature and Art and the Riga Cathedral Association.

In 1899 Bielenstein tried silk breeding.

Pastor in Rahden

Lutheran Church in Alt-Rahden
Lutheran Church in Neu-Rahden

In 1901 Hans Bielenstein moved as pastor from Ringen to Alt- and Neu-Rahden (Latvian Vecsaule or Jaunsaule ) in Courland. He had a good relationship with his community, whose fate he shared. Other pastors judged that his church stood behind him more than any other clergyman.

On December 11, 1902, he gave a lecture on the Saule battlefield (see under works ).

In January 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War , Bielenstein donated twelve pairs of gloves and 25 pairs of socks to the Red Cross Women's Committee on behalf of his community as a donation for the Russian soldiers of this war.

From August 1905, the candidate Wolansky assisted him as an adjunct .

In September 1906, after the Russian Revolution in 1905 , Bielenstein gave a lecture on the sale of the pastorate at the Synod in Mitau. In the discussion that followed, the unanimous wish was expressed that the sale should take place soon, so that the pastorship would not come into further conflict with the population because of the leases.

During the First World War , the region was occupied by German troops. Bielenstein was forced by the occupiers to act as head of office, since no one else seemed suitable for this office. This would later be his undoing. Upon assuming office, he stated that he continued to see himself primarily as a pastor. His administration confirmed this.

Bolshevik danger

The Bolshevik (oil painting by Boris Kustodijew ; 1920)

In December 1918, at the time of the Latvian War of Independence , the Red Army was getting closer; the rumors grew more and more disturbing. Hans Bielenstein wondered whether he should stay or go. It was clear to him, especially during the Christmas season, that he had to stay. While he usually had a cheerful nature, during this time he became very serious and quiet.

At the beginning of January 1919, his sons from Goldingen came to him and tried to persuade their parents to flee as they were troubled by the rumors about the Bolsheviks . Bielenstein actually became undecided, but after a while he found peace and quiet. So he comforted himself with Joh 16,33  LUT , a word from the Lord that Cyprian of Carthage had called the comfort of the martyrs: "In the world you are afraid, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Bielenstein carefully arranged his affairs ; he even planned his funeral. So he decided that no pastor should speak at his grave, so that the person concerned would not have any problems with the Bolsheviks. Instead, he asked his wife:

"Say the Lord's Prayer at the grave."

His body was not to be taken to Doblen for hereditary funeral; he argued:

"God's earth is everywhere."

He implored his sons, who were then 18 and 23 years old respectively, not to avenge him with the argument:

"Vengeance is mine, says the Lord."

(Compare Rom 12.19  LUT .) So he was prepared for the worst for him, which soon came to pass.

On January 9 and 10, 1919, the Red Army took Bauske , where his friend Christoph Strautmann was pastor, and reached Alt-Rahden on January 10.

The regular troops did not commit war crimes. The situation changed after these troops moved on. A tribunal made up of Latvian Bolsheviks, chaired by Zvirbul, began to pronounce death sentences against so-called counter - revolutionaries . Other members of the tribunal were Mrs. Taurit, who was judged by opponents to be particularly relentless and who walked through the streets of the city fully armed, and the bricklayer Schwiting. The Polish private lawyer Malachowski, whose work was also rated positively by opponents of the Bolsheviks, served as defense lawyer. The show trials, which mostly took place in the savings bank, were a pure formality. The arrests were based on a black list that the fisherman Weide had given to the tribunal. Wittort served as the executioner.

Arrest and Execution

On Sunday, January 12th, Red Army soldiers entered the pastorate to arrest Hans Bielenstein. He was absent as he preached in the daughter church and said goodbye to his congregation. The situation was reminiscent of Paul's farewell scene at Miletus , which is described in Acts 20 : 17-38  LUT . When he returned home at 4 p.m., Bielenstein was arrested immediately. Before he was taken away, he was able to marry off a couple who were present. The simple Baltic song “ So take my hands ” was sung. Bielenstein's wedding speech related to the thoughts of the song. The pastor entrusted the couple, themselves and their families to God. Then Bielenstein and his sons were taken away. Hans Bielenstein took the lead; his expression was described as quiet and transfigured; that of his eldest son, who was walking behind him, as proud and firm. The youngest son who followed said quietly to his mother, "Mommy, pray for me." They should be shot immediately. However, the soldiers conferred with each other and made the decision to take them to Bauske. Because it was already dark, the overpass was postponed. An empty room in the Alt-Rahden estate served as a prison for the night. The pastor's wife sent blankets and food to her relatives through a messenger who returned her thanks and greetings. The pastor read to his sons from the New Testament with psalms that he had received when he first left his parents' house when he attended high school, Psalm 23 (see Ps 23.1-6  LUT ) and Psalm 121 (see Ps 121.1 -8  LUT ).

On the morning of January 13, the prisoners were brought to Bauske. On the way, Hans Bielenstein said to his sons:

"My Savior also had to go this way."

You were detained in prison. Sleep was short but restful. The pastor exchanged ideas with his sons about some beautiful things that had been on his mind recently.

In the afternoon there was a so-called interrogation of Bielenstein, during which he was announced his death sentence.

One of the first victims of the tribunal, along with Hans Bielenstein, was Edgar von Uhlot, who was accused of being a police officer during the Russian Revolution of 1905. Von Uhlot was tortured before his execution. Bielenstein was convicted of his work as head of office during the German occupation. Appeals for clemency from his Latvian community, which was very satisfied with him, were rejected and even had a rather negative effect. The local Latvian pastor Christoph Strautmann was arrested in a wave of arrests . Strautmann was initially released with the information that he could be arrested again at any time.

When he was brought out to be executed, Bielenstein gave his son his New Testament. Together with von Uhlot, to whom he was trying to give consolation, he was brought to the shooting site on the Schlossberg near the ruins between the pavilion and the music shell. Before the shooting, both had to completely undress, even remove their stockings, and then stand up. Hans Bielenstein is said to have said before his shooting:

"With my body you can do what you are commanded to do, my soul will soon be in paradise."

After the conquest of Mitau by their opponents on March 18, 1919, the Bolsheviks temporarily fled Bauske on March 19. They returned to Bauske on March 20. Willow fell on March 23rd when the place was captured by their opponents. Swirbul was later captured by German soldiers.

After the Landeswehr captured Bauske, Hans Bielenstein was buried in the local cemetery. At that time, Alt-Rahden was still occupied by the Red Army, so that no one from Bielenstein's community could attend the funeral. Later, despite the long walk, the grave received frequent visitors from Alt-Rahden when parishioners brought flowers to the pastor they had cherished.


August Bielenstein
Bernhard Bielenstein

Hans Bielenstein was a son of the pastor, linguist and ethnographer D. Dr. August Johann Gottfried Bielenstein and his wife Ernestine Louise Hermine Bielenstein, b. von Bordelius (1833-1919). His siblings were Max Bielenstein (1855–1860), the pastor Louis Johann Emil Bielenstein (1858–1943, also called Emil Ludwig Bielenstein), the author Martha Bielenstein (1860–1938), Johanna Bielenstein (1864–1864), Emma Bielenstein ( 1865–1887), the painter and graphic artist Siegfried Bielenstein (1869–1949), the pastor Walter Adolf Axel Bielenstein (1872–1961) and the architect Bernhard Max August Bielenstein (1877–1959).

On November 2nd, Jul. / November 14,  1888 greg. Hans Bielenstein married Maria Ingeborg von Wadenstjerna (* 1863), who was a daughter of Colonel Karl von Wadenstjerna from Finland.

On August 20, Jul. / September 1,  1889 greg. his daughter Ingeborg Ernestine Marie Bielenstein († 1980) was born on August 19th July. / August 31,  1890 greg. was followed by Margareta Ebba Laura Bielenstein (married Kügler, † 1977), on February 8, 1893 his daughter Emma Sylvia Bielenstein, who died on March 15. On November 4th jul. / November 16,  1895 greg. his son Hans-Jürgen K.-A. Bielenstein († 1968) born on October 11th July / October 24th  1900 greg. followed in Ringen by his son Torsten Valter Bielenstein († 1985).



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Tuckumscher circle. in the Düna-Zeitung , No. 260, November 15, 1888, online at Hans Bielenstein | issueType: P
  2. ^ List of members of the Latvian Literary Society from 1901 ( Memento from September 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  3. The Latvian animal fairy tale. in the Düna-Zeitung , No. 279, December 8, 1890, online at Bielenstein | issueType: P - The article contains the two fairy tales mentioned and Bielenstein's explanations in full text.
  4. Something about silk construction. in the Libauschen Zeitung , No. 23, January 29, 1899, online at Bielenstein | issueType: P
  5. On the introduction of silk making in Courland. in the Rigaschen Rundschau , No. 86, April 14, 1899, online at Bielenstein Pastor | issueType: P
  6. Mitau. in the Rigaschen Rundschau , No. 12, January 21, 1905, online at Bielenstein Bielenstein | issueType: P
  7. Domestic. in the Libauschen Zeitung , No. 181, August 25, 1905, online at Pastor Bielenstein | issueType: P
  8. Domestic. in the Libauschen Zeitung , No. 210, September 14, 1906, online at Bielenstein | issueType: P
  9. ^ H. Dohrmann: The horror days in Bauske. , May 15, 1919, in the Libauschen Zeitung , No. 117, May 22, 1919, online at Bielenstein Pastor | issueType: P
  10. Family tree of the von Bordelius family