“Owning” Muenster

Mennonite Heritage Tour: encounters with women (part 5 of 8). Introduction. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

At dinner on the evening before our Mennonite Heritage Tour’s visit to Muenster, one of the people in our group remarked that we needed to “own” Muenster even as we “own” Auschwitz (where we would stop later).

By Auschwitz, of course, he meant the Holocaust, and by Muenster, he meant the historical events of 1534-35 in that city – the “rebellion” of radical Anabaptists in which they tried to establish the “New Jerusalem” there, complete with a king (Jan van Leiden), polygamy, extreme violence, a long siege, eventual victory by a Bishop’s army on the outside, and the killing of hundreds, with the leaders’ bodies displayed as a warning in three cages that still hang on the city’s Lamberti Church. Continue reading