The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 32 - 36

I would have all such pastors hung." So often God lets poor men fail. The inspector stole from the facility and was dismissed. God allowed the noble-minded inspector to be reviled in the most acrid of terms, for he had allowed Pastor Grabau to lie gravely ill for months and he had even forged letters to Grabau's wife, which he then delivered to the authorities.

On October 5, 1838 Pastor Grabau sent a petition to the Royal Government in Erfurt: "Since it becomes ever more apparent that the King no longer wishes to tolerate the Lutheran Church and its teachings in this country, he most humbly asks for a letter of permission so that he, his wife and child may emigrate." Since no response was received by October 21st, he repeated his request a second time before the Royal Government and he sent a letter to the High Royal Ministry of the Interior and the police in Berlin in order to let them know that he had petitioned the Royal Government in Erfurt for permission to emigrate. On November 9, 1838 in prison he received a letter from the Lutheran congregation of Magdeburg, which proposed that he accompany them on their emigration as their spiritual caregiver. He joyfully accepted in a letter written on November 10th.

On November 19th a response arrived from the Royal Government: that the Royal Ministry in Berlin had not yet reached a decision on his request and he would have to find consolation in the unspecified timeframe.

Finally on November 26th Pastor Grabau received the decision from the Ministry of Police and the court proceedings in Berlin that he could emigrate under the following conditions:
1. that he may not travel to Erfurt or Magdeburg for familial matters or any other reasons.
2. that he would be escorted by the police directly from Heiligenstadt to Hamburg.
3. that he should give an account of where the money was coming from for his passage.
4. that he would be under the surveillance of the deportation police and the police commission in Hamburg until the moment he boarded the ship, at which time these agents would send a report to the Police Ministry.
5. that the Police Ministry would supply him with the necessary boarding passes; if he already had one, he should show it.

In response Pastor Grabau corresponded that he would think about these conditions and discuss them with his people.

Pastor Grabau communicated all these things with the congregations in Magdeburg and Erfurt and he made them aware that this was no emigration consensus but rather a secretly devised plan to separate him from their Christian community and to throw him out the country. They would not let him freely leave the prison but rather publically deport him, using police surveillance as though he were a criminal without the rights of a citizen. Just as it had been for the holy apostles, who were persecuted by the authorities and who were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so it was now for the persecuted Lutheran pastors. St. Paul's Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 16, verse 37 says: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out." This means let them openly remove us in full recognition of their injustice, for we have been robbed unjustly by them. Paul was not merely making clever usage of his Roman citizenship, he was laying down testimony, that he was being insulted and punished not because of the law but for his holy and innocent activities for the sake of Christ; for the sake of Christ's Honor the persecuters should acknowledge their injustices towards him. Paul would not have this for himself but rather for the Honor of Christ. Thus it became a matter of conscience for him (Grabau) whether, if he went along with the plan of his opponents, he would be bringing harm to the cause and to the honor of Christ. He wished to consider the impact on his ministry and his duty towards the true Church and the cause of Christ in the face of this persecution if he were to follow the course set down for him. Through the Grace of the Lord it may be said: I have honestly accomplished this and my conscience does not sting me for the sake of my full life; see 1. Timothy 6: 13, 14; and ask the Christian congregation to weigh the matter with serious and heartfelt prayer to God and to communicate its concerns to Him. This was concerning the emigration consensus to the government and the subsequent request that Pastor Grabau be given to them as their minister. The faithful of Magdeburg however responded to this saying that the servants of Christ under these circumstances must allow such police exportation

by the persecuting authorities so that the issues and honor of Christ are not damaged by them; Pastor Grabau rested quietly in his conscience and in order to achieve the communal departure with the brothers in faith from Hamburg he declared he was willing to suffer even this for the sake of Christ.

Amid all this he became severely ill in prison.

The year 1838 ended and the government did nothing concerning his release or improvement of the prison's conditions. He however found great comfort in God and His Word. His daily journals show how his soul received new vigor and comfort from God's Word and how he spent his days and nights. Under an entry for Tuesday, December 18th there is the following notation: "Today it was a great comfort for me that the verse in Psalm 97: 11 was fulfilled in the prisoner Joseph; also what David said in 2 Samuel 15: 25 and 26. "I will find grace before God and He will call me back and let me see you and his house." But he also said: "I have no plans for you; see, I am here. He will do with me as he pleases." On Christmas Eve of that year he was cheered up by letters of love sent by his people. This was the second Christmas celebration which he, one who is being persecuted, would not attend with his people.

On January 18th he (while gravely ill) beseeched the Royal Government to excuse him from his imprisonment as quickly as possible for it seemed the end of his mortal existence was rapidly approaching. Under these circumstances he must renounce all future plans and ask the Royal Government merely for the favor that he be allowed to spend his last days in the bossom of his loving family and in the care of his good wife. On January 25th, 7 days later, the magistrate received a grant for a hearing from the Royal Government: Would he cease all actions of ministerial office and when he was well again would he emigrate?" Pastor Grabau answered "Yes" to both questions. The yes to the first question was based on his illness and his self-imposed withdrawal from ministerial office; the second yes was based on the proof provided by the first question, that the authorities would not suffer the continuance of the Lutheran ministry.

Despite this nothing was done by the government to release Pastor Grabau from prison. On February 5th his loving wife and

child arrived in Heiligenstadt from Erfurt and requested permission to visit their sick husband and father under supervision. There were discussions about the well being and the ills of the Church of God; the one revived the other through the comfort of God's Holy Word. They mended their hearts in ardent prayer and appeal just as St. Paul had done when he spoke to the Christians: "Send all your woes to Him and He will care for you." And as exemplied by David in Psalm 35: "Raise your concerns to the Lord, who will care for you and not allow the righteous to live eternally in distress."

At the beginning of February after a request to the government his wife was provided with a house in Heiligenstadt so that he could be with his family and convalesce. On March 11th the authorization for release arrived. The authorization was based on the provision that as soon as he was recovered he was to emigrate.

On March 12th (as it states in the journal) at 12 noon, I was released from prison. The good Inspector P. accompanied me to the residence of my wife. The two of us prayed, praised God and gave thanks.

On the same day Mrs. Grabau, who had sent a letter pleading for her husband's release, received a letter of response from the King, in which the question of "Whether the Lutheran Church would still be tolerated in the Empire of Prussia" was answered. The response read: The Lutheran Church is part of the United Agenda; outside of this context he will not suffer the Lutheran Church in his country." Many congregations, who had petitioned the King, received this answer at the same time. From this letter came the impetus to emigrate, not Pastor Grabau's persuasive orator, as has been falsely attributed. The congregations united themselves with Pastor Grabau partly through delegations and partly through correspondence because they had to prove to the authorities that they had a pastor. Without such proof they would not be allowed to leave. Thus it came to pass that all wished to give themselves over to the spiritual caregiving of Pastor Grabau.


The Emigration

On April 26th Pastor Grabau received a report that the emigration consensus was in place. Thus the date for the departure was set for June 7th. On May 1st Pastor Grabau received the following dispatch from the Royal Prussian Inquisitory in Heiligenstadt:
"To the former pastor of the Evangelical Church of St. Andreas in Erfurt, Mr. Grabau,
"We hereby certify that said person has not been incarcerated in our prison for any criminal act because persons guilty of criminal acts would either be under investigation or under arrest."
      Heiligenstadt, May 1, 1839.
                        signed, the Royal Inquistor N.N.

On June 7th a report came from the Erfurt Government via police courier:
Pastor Grabau will not be allowed to depart with his family and he will not be allowed to visit his fellow emigrants in or around Magdeburg. He shall travel from Heiligenstadt with a police escort, be turned over to the police in Magdeburg, who will accompany him to the border and see to his departure. He shall not have the opportunity to take his leave of his nearest relatives in Erfurt. Being escorted from Heiligenstadt to Magdeburg, he could hardly say his farewells to his mother and sister. He could not say an Our Father with them because that would be a sign of ministerial activity. At the border near Wittemberg the policeman who accompanied him declared that he was free, however the man accompanied him as far as Hamburg in order to convince himself that everything went according to plan. The Pastor's wife had already left Heiligenstadt for the home of her uncle, the government minister Beulke, and then to the emigrants in Erfurt and Magdeburg and from there to Hamburg where she rejoined her husband. About 100 Lutheran souls assembled in Hamburg

Return to Table of Contents
Continue to Pages 37 - 42

Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 17, 2006