The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 22 - 26


The magistrate played the fine man of the world for the pastor's wife and he attempted to affect his sympathy with courtly words and manners. To the questions of where her husband would be taken and how he would be treated , he answered: "Your husband will not be taken far from Erfurt; all preparations are in place for his arrival; he will find a safe, comfortable room and suffer no deprivation; in a few days you will be apprised of the district at which he is being kept." In the confusion the pastor's wife had forgotten some of the things which her husband had said he would need for travel in the cold night but even the maid was not allowed to go back for them; the pastor's wife was not allowed to go, lest the congregation discover that its spiritual caregiver had been taken away. They comforted the wife: "it is not necessary; your husband will be cared for; he won't need the items he asked for." The wife believed the magistrate; why would you not trust a duly-sworn high official who warned others to be truthful and forthcoming? But this was, as will be demonstrated, a dreadful deception. As the time for departure drew nearer, Pastor Grabau prayed with his wife and ordered her, the community, his child, and himself to commend themselves to the protection of the triune God. The magistrate and the police withdrew to another room. When it got dark the special post wagon , which was to take Pastor Grabau away, drove into the courtyard of the magistry. He was turned over to a constable - the police commissioner Rochlitz, a freethinker (as he described himself). He put his sabre in the wagon then the pastor had to climb in and the commissioner sat next to him. So that no human eye would see that Pastor Grabau was being taken away, the leather curtain was securely closed over the wagon. But why should this be done? He was no criminal. People of Erfurt, who spoke of the deed, reminded themselves of the passage from holy scripture: whoever does evil, hates the light and does not go into the light, lest he be punished for his deeds. Furthermore this act was committed in the time of Christ's suffering by one who said of the Lord Jesus Christ : "so that there may be no commotion among the people, —


"so they would not notice how they grabbed him using cunning, noiselessly, in the dead of night, on a Wednesday, the same night of the week in which Judas Iscariot arranged his betrayal with the high priests and the elders."

"The magistrate had given the pastor's wife the assurance that Grabau's comfort would be provided for and that the pastor could do without the forgotten articles. This however was not true. In the half-covered wagon, exposed to the air and the night chill, there was only a light woolen blanket. The man, of frail constitution, wore only a cloth shirt, simple boots and the customary mild-weather hat, which came with a light-weight coat. Cheerfully the constable sat next to him. But when Pastor Grabau started praying along the way, the freethinker became fearful and anxious, as he himself related on the journey home. Pastor Grabau became deathly sick in the wagon, succumbed to the cold against which he had no protection. He had violent stomach cramps and frequent bouts of vomiting. The constable finally realized that the pastor's suffering might kill him. In a effort to make sure that his patient made it to the prison alive, the constable offered him warm beer, which Pastor Grabau would not accept from such an evil-doer. On March 2nd they arrived in Heiligenstadt. Here they wished to shut Pastor Grabau up in a criminal prison, a dark, inpenetrable place with thick bars on the windows. The pastor protested and he was brought to a roomier but damp chamber with a dirty bed too disgusting to be used."

"In the entire facility there wasn't one acceptable prison room, so the inspector opined and he took the pastor to his own room until a cell was cleaned and provided with a suitable bed. The food consisted of the same soup served in the morning, at midday and at sunset and was the same as the fare served the criminals. For a frail man this was inedible. Such was the comfort that the magistrate promised the pastor's wife. The pastor was also not left alone. A crude prisoner was locked up with him and this man disturbed the pastor with his drinking and cursing. When the pastor summoned the courage to say something about this, the prisoner threatened him with a beating. Later on at least the prisoner stopped cursing."

"On his way home Police Commissioner Rochlitz publically told of his delight


"in Grabau's poor condition. The news quickly spread throughout the city and the pastor's wife was thoroughly vexed that she had listened to the magistrate. He responded: 'This was not the case; her husband would be treated as an honorable man should be!' Pastor Grabau wrote a letter to Erfurt in which he described his circumstances. This letter, which he had to deliver to the hands of the Heiligenstadt criminal court, was opened and read; notations on its content were noted on the outside. It was sealed and sent to the Erfurt government, which instead of rectifying the situation, sent it back to Pastor Grabau in his prison cell. Thus the acknowledgement of this barbarism was suppressed. — In the face of such punishment, what sure and joyous comfort a Christian minister must have to fortify and strengthen himself, remains to be seen. It is also certain that the entire congregation has been fortified anew in its faith and it is prepared to stand steadfastly by its faith unto death. Similar events in all the other provinces have created a new and steadfast Lutheran. In Heiligenstadt news of the arrest and treatment of Grabau has circulated to all the people; even the Catholics and the United faction, prone to talk, have participated in the discussion."

In the addendum to the above cited pamphlet the publisher notes: "Dear Pastor Grabau has written to me from his prison in Heiligenstadt with a peace, a serenity and a joyous courage, which can be bestowed only by the Lord, who holds the keys to hell and death. Just as Grabau stands firm, so does his congregation in Erfurt; no threats or enticements can move them from our faith."

In another notation the publisher states: "A friend and member of the Lutheran church confirms all the reports, — especially the report of the inhumane treatment, which Pastor Grabau has been forced to endure. He now tells me that Grabau is being treated more moderately. He is still imprisoned in Heiligenstadt without the prospect of release but he has a more wholesome room and a better bed and is daily permitted


to go outside accompanied by a guard. Such moderation is the result of the efforts by the prison inspector, a Saxon by birth, who received instruction in the Dresden Catechism as a boy and who has spent time with Pastor Grabau in his cell in the dead of night, receiving instruction anew in true Lutheran teachings; this man has become a professor of the teachings and he later publicly resigned from the Union, allowing Pastor Grabau to preach to the prisoners and even instruct his own children."

Even so, detention in prison with its stagnant and unwholesome air and bad food has taken a toll on Pastor Grabau's health and he has found it necessary to write the royal district magistrate, Mr. von Bodungen, and complain:
1. that he has been sitting in prison for 6 ½ months and no one has taken the trouble to investigate whether or not this situation is extreme;
2. that he has not been given acceptable or healthy food, rather the meals have been inedible and undigestible;
3. that the prison is filled with unhealthy vapors, which permeate everything, and vermin.
4. that in consequence of these conditions he is unwell and asks that his release from this unjust imprisonment be arranged; such torture is unnecessary and useless; it is detrimonious to the reputation of the government and the state; he closes with the wish that God will enlighten the national authorities so that they recognize their injustice and cease their persecution of the true faith and the Lutheran Church.

At the same time his good Christian wife corresponded with the privy council and justice minister Mühler in Berlin, requesting that her sick husband be released from prison. She received a response that her husband would be banished by royal decree to Münster; she could join him there and set up house, provided she do so at her own expense.


V.

Release from Prison

In the mean time through the excellent defense of Justice Commissioner Quinqul Pastor Grabau was released by the Upper Court in Hallerstadt. This news came through a writ delivered in the night after Pastor Grabau had been in prison for 6 months. But the criminal prosecutor, who saw the Upper Court writ as an overturning of the Erfurt Royal Government decree, rushed that same night to the magistrate, which handed down the order: Grabau should remain in prison until the higher court decision from Erfurt and Berlin was received. When this came it stated: "Grabau should remain in prison by decree of the State." However not wishing to appear shameful before the people by holding a man in prison, who had been declared free, the order was given as was stated above, that Grabau should be exiled to Munster (in Westphalia).

Around this time there were approximately 20 Lutheran pastors, who had either been imprisoned or exiled. Thus came the call to Pastor Grabau's prison cell for help from many Lutheran Christians in Pommerania, who had been robbed of their shepherds. And since he had been released by the Upper Court, he believed in good faith that he could take his leave. The old guard, who accompanied him on his walks, said to him, "Pastor, it is known in the city and the state that you remain here guiltless and by law have been granted your freedom. If I were in your shoes, I know where I'd go." Pastor Grabau received a missive from Dr. Scheibel, which was delivered through the true hand of the inspector to Grabau's prison cell. The letter stated: "If you can get out, things would go all the better. Without a shepherd the enemy scatters the herd." Since he would shortly be transported to Munster by force, Grabau decided to avail himself of the lawfully decreed release.


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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks