Theodor Fliedner

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Theodor Fliedner, steel engraving by Eduard Rittinghaus

Georg Heinrich Theodor Fliedner (born January 21, 1800 in Eppstein ; † October 4, 1864 in Kaiserswerth ) was a German Protestant pastor, social reformer and founder of the Kaiserswerther Diakonie . Together with his wives Friederike Münster and Caroline Bertheau , he is considered to be the renewer of the apostolic deaconess office . His work in nursing was groundbreaking for Florence Nightingale , who spent a few months in Kaiserswerth in 1850.


Childhood and youth

Eppstein, Untergasse 23, today's Theodor Fliedner House, the house where Theodor Fliedner was born
Theodor and Caroline Fliedner's grave at the "Diakonie cemetery", Schleifergasse, Kaiserswerth

Fliedner was born in 1800 as one of the ten children of pastor Jakob Ludwig Fliedner and his wife Henriette, nee. Hunter born. In addition to school, he and his siblings were taught by his parents and at an early age expressed the desire to also become a pastor. His father died when Fliedner was thirteen, and his mother and friends of the family enabled him to continue attending grammar school. In 1817 Fliedner attended the University of Giessen with his brother in order to study Protestant theology with the help of a scholarship . During his studies in 1818 he became a member of the Gießen General Burschenschaft Germania . He later moved to Göttingen and finished his studies at the seminary in Herborn in 1820.

Lifetime work and professional commitment

In 1822 Fliedner became pastor in Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf. His parishioners, who lived in the minority of the Catholic surrounding area, were severely affected by unemployment and poverty, and Fliedner tried to find a church, school and poor fund for his poor parish. At first he sought support from the more affluent neighboring communities, later he traveled several times to the centers of the revival movement in the Netherlands and England to collect donations. There he met Elisabeth Fry , who was involved in the English prison welfare and whose work impressed him very much.

In 1826 Fliedner founded the "Rheinisch-Westfälische Prison Society" and was committed to reforms to improve the living conditions of inmates and - together with the Catholic prison chaplain Friedrich Gerst - to rehabilitation measures . An ecumenical prison chaplaincy came into being under his leadership . From donations he founded an asylum for released female prisoners in September 1833, the head of which he appointed Friederike Münster , whom he had married in 1828 in Oberbiel (now part of Solms near Wetzlar ) and who played an essential role in the expansion and expansion played his projects. Together with her, Fliedner had a total of eleven children, eight of whom died in childhood.

In order to improve the poor educational conditions of the children and young people and at the same time to prevent possible delinquency, Fliedner built a knitting school in 1835, a toddler school and a toddler teachers' college in 1836. Fliedner called it teaching and education diaconia and as early as 1837 he set it the goal of “working on the care and upbringing of children with Christian wisdom and love as one of the most important matters for the whole people”.

The catastrophic conditions in the hospitals, in which mostly guards and no nurses worked and the sick were largely left to their own devices, prompted Fliedner to found an "educational institution for evangelical nurses" on October 13, 1836 to improve the nursing conditions of the Patients should care and was the first Protestant deaconess institution to look after the later built hospital.

For Fliedner, the model for the diaconal work of the “parish sisters ” was the Phöbe from Romans (16.1 LUT ). He understood deaconesses as servants of Jesus, as servants of the sick and as servants to one another. In order to protect the deaconesses from attacks and to underline their professionalism, Fliedner gave them a respectable uniform and established guidelines that were to structure and regulate the daily routine of the deaconesses. In 1838 the first deaconesses were sent to other regions, and further deaconess houses were built in Rheydt, Frankfurt and Kirchheim. Until her death in 1842, Friederike Fliedner headed the Diakonissenanstalt and the motherhouse in Kaiserswerth.

The living conditions of women and the motivation of young women to work independently in the context of charity were a major concern for Fliedner. Under his aegis, a seminar for teachers was established in 1841 and an orphanage for girls from the middle classes in 1842. In 1842 Fliedner acquired the house on Wallstrasse, today Fliednerstrasse No. 16, and set up the Diakonie administration there and in 1844 house No. 20, temporarily his parsonage, in which he also died. Today the Fliednerhof is located here .

Fliedner married Caroline Bertheau in 1843 , who was also very committed to her husband's side. In 1844 the pastoral assistant and deacon institute was established, from which today's Theodor Fliedner Foundation emerged . In 1849 Fliedner gave up his post as parish priest in order to be able to devote himself more to his work and in particular to collect the necessary donations for his life's work. In 1846 he accompanied the first deaconesses to a hospital in England. In 1849 he visited North America with four sisters who were sent to work at the Pittsburgh Spital, today's Passavant Hospital, at the request of the Lutheran clergyman William Alfred Passavant . In 1851 he was able to accompany sisters to Jerusalem in Israel, where he opened the Talitha Kumi boarding school for girls . In 1852 he founded a sanatorium for female mentally ill people in Kaiserswerth.

Three years before his death, Fliedner, whose health was weakened from a trip to Egypt, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the deaconess work with the sisters. At that time it comprised 83 stations abroad and 26 independent houses (deaconess mother houses).

Theodor Fliedner died on October 4, 1864 in Kaiserswerth. His son from his first marriage, Georg Fliedner (1840–1916), wrote a biography of his father. One of the sons from his second marriage, Fritz Fliedner (1845–1901), worked as a theologian in Madrid . The daughter Louise married the theologian Julius Disselhoff , who succeeded Fliedner as head of the Kaiserswerther Diakonie.

Works and literature of Fliedner

Postage stamp (1952) from the series Helpers to Mankind
  • Collection trip to Holland and England , 2 volumes; 1831
  • One Lord, One Faith: Collection of Protestant sermons from thirty different countries in and outside Germany ... Steinhaus, Barmen 1837 Digitized
  • Brief history of the origins of the first Protestant love institutions in Kaiserswerth ; 1856
  • Songbook for toddler schools ; 1842
  • Kaiserswerther People's Calendar ; from 1842
  • Poor and sick friend ; from 1849
  • Book of Martyrs and Other Witnesses of Faith of the Evangelical Church , 4 volumes; 1850 ff.
  • School picture Bible, in 30 pictures Old and New Testaments. Edited by Theodor Fliedner; Düsseldorf: Arnz, 1843. Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf

Memorial days


  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzFliedner, Theodor. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 2, Bautz, Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-032-8 , Sp. 57-59.
  • Georg Fliedner:  Fliedner, Theodor . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, pp. 119-122.
  • G. Fliedner: Theodor Fliedner. 3 volumes, 1908 ff.
  • Robert Frick:  Fliedner, Theodor. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , p. 245 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Martin Gerhardt : Theodor Fliedner: A picture of life , 2 volumes. Düsseldorf-Kaiserswerth 1933–1937.
  • Thorsten Neubert-Preine : Diakonie for the Holy Land - The foundation of the Kaiserswerther Orientarbeit by Theodor Fliedner. In: Almuth Nothnagle (ed.): See, we're going up to Jerusalem. Festschrift for the 150th anniversary of Talitha Kumi and the Jerusalem Association. Leipzig 2000, ISBN 3-374-01863-7 , pp. 31-43.
  • Dietmar Kruczek: Theodor Fliedner: My life, for life. A biography about the founder of the Kaiserswerther Diakonie. Sowing, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2002, ISBN 3761550057 .
  • Thorsten Neubert-Preine: Fliedner's engagement in Jerusalem. Kaiserswerther Diakonie in the context of the Orient Mission. In: Andreas Feldtkeller , Almuth Nothnagle (ed.): Mission in the conflict field of Islam. Judaism and Christianity. An inventory of the 150th anniversary of the Jerusalem Association. Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-87476-422-2 , pp. 57-70.
  • Florence Nightingale: The institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine. For the practical training of deaconesses, under the direction of the Rev. Pastor Fliedner, embracing the support and care of a hospital, infant and industrial schools, and a female penitentiary. Eyre and Spottiswood, London 1851.
  • Anna Sticker: Theodor Fliedner (1800–1864). In: Bernhard Poll (Ed.): Rheinische Lebensbilder. Volume 5. Rhineland, Cologne 1973, pp. 75-94.
  • Helge Dvorak: Biographical lexicon of the German fraternity. Volume I: Politicians, Part 7: Supplement A – K, Winter, Heidelberg 2013, ISBN 978-3-8253-6050-4 . Pp. 325-327.
  • Manfred Berger : Fliedner, Theodor , in: Hugo Maier (Ed.): Who is who of social work . Freiburg: Lambertus, 1998 ISBN 3-7841-1036-3 , pp. 174f.

Web links

Commons : Theodor Fliedner  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. A short history of the Theodor Fliedner High School . ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Website of the Theodor-Fliedner-Gymnasium, accessed on October 5, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Christ Lutheran Church of Baden, PA .: Baden's First 100 Years . ( Memento of October 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Website of Olde Economie Financial Consultants, Ltd., Baden , accessed on October 5, 2015.
  3. ^ María Galán: Protestant and pedagogue: Fritz Fliedner (1845-1901). An overview of his life and work . In: The Protestant Diaspora. Yearbook of the Gustav-Adolf-Werk . Vol. 2002, pp. 47-55.
  4. ^ Theodor Fliedner in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints