Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pastor Hornle

The following is a story as told by Josephine Haugen Senft '48, the very first Guest Teacher.

Upon arriving in Rimbach, Germany, in June of 1948, I was welcomed with love and generosity by the Hornle family and the faculty and students of the Martin Luther Schule.  A faculty member told a story about Pastor Willi Hornle, the founder and organizer of the school.

During the war years Pastor Hornle preached in his sermons to the congregation about the Nazis and their misdeeds.  He was informed that the Nazis would arrive in town at some time and "take him away."  What could he do to prevent this was his question.  He had a family and a congregation and he was needed to assist and help them.  He decided that he would join the "regular" German Air Force--which he did.  He was allowed to continue with his work in Rimbach but he wore his Air Force uniform rather than civilian clothes.

One Sunday morning during the church services the inevitable happened.  The door to the sanctuary opened and several Nazi officers entered.  The congregation was stunned into silence.  Pastor Hornle walked down the center aisle and as he approached the Nazis he removed the robe to reveal the German Air Force uniform.  Seeing that, the Nazis could not arrest him.

Sometime between 1945 and 1948, Pastor Hornle organized the Martin Luther Schule to provide educational opportunities beyond the elementary school in Rimbach for the children and the young people of the entire community surrounding Rimbach.

When I met Pastor Hornle and others in Rimbach in June of 1948, the currency reform and the formation of the Bonn Government had not occurred.  At that time, three years after the war ended, Pastor Hornle was still wearing his Air Force top coat, as it was the only coat he owned.  Those were difficult times for the population.  Food, clothing and other essentials for living were scarce.  Also, all families were required to share their homes with other German families who had to flee their homes in the East.

It is amazing to think about the kinds of challenges that faced the early Guest Teachers in comparison to the challenges I face in 2011!

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