A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors
The Evangelical Church & School in Beschka After 1900
by Peter Lang
Translated by Brad Schwebler

          For the treatment of the subject we must depend to a large extent on the memories of Friedrich Scherer.  But his memories were partially confirmed by the Krtschedin homeland book.

          There where the Evangelical church stood there was formerly a low “Quer” (horizontal?) house, in the type like the old parsonage.  This Quer-house was erected by Christian Klerner and then was purchased by the Evangelical community.  It was a prayer house.  On the street over the water ditch the Evangelical congregation erected a belfry from massive oak wood which was presented by the “Imovina”, the wealthy community in Mitrowitza. (The “Imovina” managed all forests which had belonged to the military border, and continued to do so after the dissolution of the military border.)  During this time the Evangelical congregation still had no parsonage, the pastor still lived in the bell ringer’s house, in the front part in which there was later a school and towards 1932 the Luther Hall was constructed.  In the back part which had the cellar underneath and therefore the higher part of the bell ringer’s house lived the bell ringer.  The parsonage was later built Heinrich Kappes and these were sold to the Evangelical congregation.  Rev. Samuel Gretzmacher, married to Berta von Scholz, came to Beschka on the 5th of May 1878.  His wife died in 1898 near their daughter in Pantschowa.  Rev. Gretzmacher died in 1916.  Both are buried in Beschka.  After Rev. Gretzmacher the pastor from Krtschedin, Rev. Adam Veres was chosen to come to Beschka.  He remained until 1921 and then went to Ilok.  In 1929 he was chosen to be the first Slovakian bishop after the separation of the German Evangelical church and the Slovakian Evangelical church.  About the same time Dr. Philipp Popp was elected to be the first German Evangelical bishop.  In 1946 he was condemned to death besides others because during the war he contacted German officers.  The Titoists later regretted this execution.

          After Veres the Rev. Müller was chosen to be pastor in Beschka.  He died shortly after that, so that after him Rev. Ellenberger held the pastor’s position as administrator.  In 1924 Rev. Karl Peter was appointed to be pastor.  He entered into his service on the second Christmas day in 1924.  The church inspector at the time was Johann Haipp (Heib).  A short time after that Georg Sehne was church inspector.

          In 1926 the old parsonage was leveled and a larger and more beautiful one was built in its place.  It had an office towards the street with an ante-room with its own entrance, salon, bedroom, living room, and a bath with enclosed glass entrance, a guest bedroom in the back, kitchen, dining room, and summer kitchen with a roomy long entrance.  The toilet was also reached through the covered entrance.  On the strength og the community plan one can still calculate that the total roof covered surface amounted to well over 300 square meters.  It was planned and built at the time with the newest technological advances by building contractor Fritz Beck.  It cost 260,000 Dinar.

          In 1927 Fritz Beck purchased the house at 24 Lange Street as the choirmaster apartment for exactly 100,000 Dinar.  In 1929 the organ pipes which were requisitioned during World War I were replaced.  The cost was 10,000 Dinar.  Furthermore a church which was built in 1895 was painted with imitation marble tiles by Johann Röder, and a new carpet was placed in front of the altar.  Everything was completed for the Kirchweih (church festival).  The first church service was similar to a new consecration.  The “Vox Celleste” (organ) belted (aired) with “Salicional” and the chorus sang “Christ, Lamb of God”” from Psalms as the Lords Prayer was discreetly said before and after, had deeply moved men such as Andreas Scherer at the time.  I must say that the organ was a masterpiece of the Rieger Company from Jägerndorf (Opus 705, if I remember correctly).  Bierbrunner called it “Csinos orgona”.  The fact that Beschka had decided on such a precious organ in 1899 may lead back to the influence of the teacher at the time and later music professor, Michael Gesell.  I cannot leave unmentioned that besides the printed hymnbooks at the organ I also found a handwritten hymnbook, that could serve as a model for good harmonies.  I preferred to use it rather than the printed books.  The composition was most likely by Michael Gesell.  Not important, but it may still be interesting, because I reflect on the real technical wonder of the organ at the time and still so today.  As the “Graf Zeppelin” flew over Beschka I heard the low rumble of the machines for a long time and as I arrived in church organist Stadler from Neustadt just sounded the deepest pipes, thereby we both established that the lowest C sub-bass 16 foot exactly corresponded to the tones of the proud zeppelin.

          We Germans were naturally proud of the technical wonder and as a German asked a Serb from Prince Eugen Street in Serbian what he had thought as he saw the zeppelin, the Serb said spontaneously and without envy, “Germany, Germany, over everything.”  I believe that is a good example that the relationship between the Serbs and the Germans was good. 

          I believe in the year 1934, in the time of the worst economic crisis, the Evangelicals built the Luther Hall next to the bell ringer’s apartment where there was a school before that and formerly a parsonage.  Bible study hours were held in the Luther Hall on weekday evenings.  Singing and the new tunes were practiced by the adults in the Luther Hall in 1938, so the community could soon sing the new tunes in the church service.  The women also found intimate accommodation in the Luther Hall on certain evenings.  Also, educational films, such as about infant care, were shown there.  Religious and confirmation instruction were also given in the Luther Hall which relieved the school rooms.  Several church choirs also practiced in the Luther Hall.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005]