Brunshausen Monastery

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The former Brunshausen monastery is located in Brunshausen , a district of the city of Bad Gandersheim . It was founded in the 9th century as a Benedictine convent . After an eventful history as nuns - and monastery and Protestant convent monastery Brunshausen was founded in 1944/1945 as a concentration camp Bad Gandersheim a satellite camp of Buchenwald . Today there is a museum on the history of Brunshausen and the Gandersheim Monastery in the monastery church and parts of the monastery building .

Entrance from Brunshausen Monastery


Foundation of the monastery

View of the monastery complex (before 1900)
The monastery church on the right

The place Brunshausen was initially chosen by the Liudolfingern as the seat of power because it was in the center of their domain and on the Heerstrasse from Mainz via Fulda , Northeim and Hildesheim to the North Sea . The manor house , from which remains of the wall from around 840 have been excavated, was probably given a small church in the first quarter of the 9th century . During the excavations, a piece of plaster with a runic inscription was found . The monastery was first consecrated to St. John and St. Stephen, later the patronage changed to St. Boniface . The monastery also had relics of this saint. The choice of St. Boniface, an Archbishop of Mainz, is based on the desire of the monastery to withdraw from Hildesheim and join the Archbishop of Mainz .

Creation of the Gandersheimer Stift

After its founding in 852 , the convent of Gandersheim Monastery was housed in Brunshausen Monastery until the church and monastery buildings were completed in Gandersheim. Even after the resettlement in 881, Brunshausen remained a Benedictine monastery. During this time, Liudolf, the founder of the monastery, was buried in the monastery in 866 and Hathumod , daughter of Liudolf and first abbess of the monastery, in 874 . Liudolf's body was later transferred to the collegiate church. After the foundation of the monastery, Brunshausen became its own monastery, which means that the abbess had secular supervision in the monastery. The spiritual responsibility lay with the Bishop of Hildesheim.

Brunshausen as a male monastery

Brunshausen has not only housed nuns in its history. It is said that in 1134 the first abbot of the Clus monastery also became an abbot in Brunshausen. This means that the nunnery had become a monastery. But this time as a monastery was only an interlude, as early as 1200 nuns were living in Brunshausen again. It had been recognized that two men's monasteries in such close proximity made no sense.

Bursfeld Congregation

In the 15th century, the monastery was able to recover economically thanks to the increase in monastery property. In 1448, Clus also joined Brunshausen to the Bursfeld congregation . This had its center in the monastery of Bursfelde and demanded the observance of the order rule of St. Benedict in the original rigor and purity.


The next big turning point in the history of the Brunshausen Monastery was the Reformation . The Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was occupied by the troops of the Schmalkaldic League in 1542 and the Protestant faith was introduced for the first time. This also had an impact on the Gandersheim monastery, which was actually directly imperial and where the Protestant service was arranged. But thanks to ingenious tactics, the cannonies could delay execution. In 1547, the returned Duke Heinrich the Younger of Braunschweig-Lüneburg reintroduced the Catholic faith. It was not until 1568 that the Reformation was finally introduced by his son, Duke Julius of Braunschweig-Lüneburg . On October 31, 1568, the visitation commission converted Brunshausen into a Protestant monastery. Ducal officials were supposed to take over the administration of the monastery, against which the monastery Gandersheim resisted. This dispute about the affiliation of the monastery was only finally clarified in 1593 in the contract between the monastery and Duke Heinrich Julius , when the monastery fell to the duke.

The Thirty-Year War

The monastery as a Merian engraving in the middle of the 17th century

During the Thirty Years War the monastery suffered from marauding soldiers. Because of the edict of restitution for Catholicism of March 6, 1629, the five remaining Protestant conventual women were expelled and replaced by Catholic nuns. But in 1631 this phase was over and the monastery was Protestant again. The destruction from the war period made it impossible for the Protestant conventual women to return. The old conditions were not restored until 1655. But the purpose of the monastery was increasingly changing. The vacant places of the conventual women were increasingly used to care for the members of the monastery abbey . A school was also donated.

Return to the pen

In 1695 the dispute between the dukes of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and the monastery was resolved and the monastery fell back to the Gandersheim monastery. This handover resulted from the negotiations between the monastery and Duke Anton Ulrich zu Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel regarding the election of his daughter Henriette Christine as abbess of Gandersheim and the related conditions of the monastery. The abbess was enthroned in April 1694 and in December 1695 Brunshausen and Clus were handed over to the monastery. At that time, four people were still living in Brunshausen. From 1709 there was no more monastic life.

Baroque bloom

Elisabeth Ernestine Antonie of Saxe-Meiningen

The monastery experienced a new use and flourishing under the abbess Elisabeth Ernestine Antonie von Sachsen-Meiningen , who helped the entire Gandersheim monastery to a baroque heyday. She had the monastery converted into a baroque summer palace between 1713 and 1726 . But after the abbess's death in 1766, the monastery was only used as a workers' residence and warehouse for the Clus domain. The convent buildings no longer existed. In 1791 the service in the monastery church had to be stopped due to dilapidation. The result was that the building was profaned in 1793. It was used as a barn, shed and riding arena. In 1810 the monastery was secularized. The owner of the monastery property became the Braunschweiger Kloster- und Studienfonds , the land property was initially leased as part of the state domain Clus and later sold.

Brunshausen in the Third Reich

During the Second World War , from the summer of 1944 until the end of the war, there was a foster home for foreign children in the western wing of the monastery for Eastern European forced laborers . In the winter of 1944/45 the monastery church also served as a satellite camp for the Buchenwald concentration camp . The inmates worked in an armaments factory . On April 4, 1945, shortly before the end of the war, the subcamp was evacuated and 40 prisoners unable to march were shot in a nearby forest. An “authentic place” on the upper floor reminds of this happening in the new monastery design.

Brunshausen today

The monastery has been owned by the city of Bad Gandersheim since 1987 and was converted into a cultural center in 1989. Since May 2007, the second part of the museum project Portal zur Geschichte has been located in the monastery , in which the history of the monastery is presented using the biographies of strong women. The third part of the exhibition opened in November 2013. There is a café (rose café) in the former abbess's hall.

The Lamspringe Sculpture Trail has been linked to the Lamspringe Monastery since the 1990s . It is a part of the old Kreiensen - Hildesheim railway line for a total of twelve kilometers between Lamspringe and Bad Gandersheim , which has been converted into a cycle path.

Building history

Monastery courtyard

The currently still existing Gothic hall church with Romanesque remains dates from the 14th / 15th. Century. The Romanesque remains are in the area of ​​the west tower, at the entrance and in the southern side apse. Four previous Romanesque buildings were excavated. They go back to the 9th century. It is known of the previous building that it was a three-aisled Romanesque basilica that was larger than the current monastery church and was probably built in the 12th century. In 1300 the still existing rectangular choir was built because its predecessor had collapsed. The rest of the existing church dates from the mid-15th century. The new building was made possible by a short-term economic upturn. The western wing of the monastery was converted into a summer residence between 1713 and 1726. The abbess's private rooms, the dining room and the palace chapel were on the first floor. The collections of Elisabeth Ernestine Antonie were housed on the second floor and in the attic. The rooms were structured according to the themes of the collections, e.g. B. Architecture, monastery history, natural sciences or coins. In 1810 the monastery complex was still largely in place. The north and east wings were demolished in the 19th century.


  • Hans Goetting: The imperial canonical monastery Gandersheim . In Max Planck Institute for History (ed.): Germania sacra: historical-statistical description of the Church of the Old Kingdom. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1973, ISBN 3-11-004219-3 .
  • Martin Hoernes, Hedwig Röckelein (eds.): Gandersheim and Essen. Comparative studies on Saxon women's colleges . In: Essen research on the women's foundation. Volume 4. Klartext Verlag, Essen 2006, ISBN 3-89861-510-3 .
  • Portal to history: rediscover treasures! Selection catalog, ed. by Martin Hoernes and Thomas Labusiak, Delmenhorst 2007.
  • Miriam Gepp: The collegiate church in Bad Gandersheim. Memorial place of the Ottonians , ed. by Thomas Labusiak , Munich 2008
  • Birgit Heilmann: Heiltum becomes history. The Gandersheim reliquary in the post-Reformation period , ed. by Thomas Labusiak and Hedwig Röckelein, Regensburg 2009 (studies on the women's monastery in Gandersheim and its own monasteries, volume 1)
  • Jan Friedrich Richter: Gothic in Gandersheim. The wood sculptures of the 13th to 16th centuries , ed. by Thomas Labusiak and Hedwig Röckelein, Regensburg 2010 (studies on the women's monastery in Gandersheim and its own monasteries, volume 2)
  • Christian Popp: The treasure of cannonies. Saints and relics in the women's monastery Gandersheim , ed. by Thomas Labusiak and Hedwig Röckelein, Regensburg 2010 (studies on the women's monastery in Gandersheim and its own monasteries, volume 3)
  • Matthias Zirm: Hathumod's first church. Excavations in the Brunshausen Monastery in: Babette Ludowici (Ed.): Saxones , Theiss, Darmstadt 2019, pp. 332–333

Web links

Commons : Brunshausen Monastery  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 51 ° 52 ′ 58 ″  N , 10 ° 1 ′ 55 ″  E