For the most part, what happened to the Anabaptists in Europe, the way they were persecuted and driven from their homeland, is not acknowledged, like it never happened. So this committee is trying to create awareness, about this period in history.
At this time there’s a Hutterer Park in the works, which this committee has a hand in. They meet about three times a year and discuss things like this park, which is scheduled to open next year. They also graciously host any Hutterites that contact them about visiting the area. Once it’s decided who the host will be, tours to Hutterite historical places are arranged, which sometimes means taking time off work.
It is with a grateful heart that I say they do a fabulous job of hosting!! It took us only a few minutes to feel right at home with these dear people, who we had never met before. I enjoyed every minute of our time in Innsbruck and am so looking forward to visiting South Tirol! History really comes alive when visiting the places of our forefathers with well informed and passionate tour guides. Our tour guide was Eduard Geisler and at the two sites we visited he read from our History book about what happened at that particular place. This well-worn book was full of tabs, papers and bookmarks - an indication how much time he spends with it. I was touched beyond words, not only to hear him read these stories, but also this meaningful gesture!
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Inn Café, which Max and Margrit Eugster arranged. Here Ignaz Hammer joined us and after lunch we visited the Hutterer Park, which is located along the Inn River, where many Hutterites were drowned and where some fled to avoid being caught. It was raining, but we were so caught up in listening to Eduard telling us about the plans for this Hutterer Park , it didn’t bother us too much.
From there we went to Schloss Freundsburg , (picture right) at Schwaz where many Anabaptists were imprisoned, among them Hans Schaffner, who wrote two of the songs in our Vaeterlieder (songs of our Forefathers).
We then went to the ruins of Schloss Rattenberg, where seventy-one Anabaptists were executed. It’s a steep climb, part crude steps and part narrow trail, and we had to stop to catch our breath ever so often. But with Eduard’s “Du schaffst es schon.” we made it to the top. I don’t know how long we climbed, but long enough to think about our forefathers and what it cost them to walk this way and how much harder it must have been for them. Once we were at the top, and saw this Schloss up close we could not help feeling very sad…I’m not even sure if sadness describes the feeling appropriately. I guess the horror of the things that happened become more real when visiting places like this. And our tour guide thoughtfully gave us some time to reflect, which indeed is needed.
I know this blog is only a glimpse of what we’re experiencing here, but I hope it’s enough to help you feel some of it with us, especially Hutterites. This is our history, and which sadly enough we all too often take for granted. Hopefully in some small way this blog and others like it will help change that. (Feel free to share these posts with others.) I know this trip has enhanced my appreciation of our history. I vow to spend more time reading these stories, especially since I now will have images of some of the places. It’s truly inspiring to hear our hosts, some Catholic and some with the Free Church, speak so passionately when talking about our history. I wish every Hutterite, who has the desire, would get the opportunity to make a trip like this one!