Kaiserswerth (2)

„Kaiserswerth was entirely a Roman Catholic village until near the close of the last century, when certain velvet manufacturers brought over their work-people from Protestant Crefeld. The Protestant congregation was small enough,- two hundred in a population of eighteen hundred; and over it Candidat Theodore Fliedner was placed as village pastor in the year 1822. He was not there a month when the velvet manufacturers failed, and the congregation, mostly their own workmen, threatened to be broken up. Fliedner was offered another charge. He says he could not reconcile it with his duty to leave his flock when they most needed help; and as they were no longer capable of supporting a pastorate among them, he made a begging tour as far even as Holland and England, and returned with a sum sufficient to afford a moderate endowment. This, however, was by far the least result of his journey. His longing and aptitude for practical work, not as a philanthropist only, but as an earnest minister of Christ, had been greatly stimulated by what he saw. He had visited hospitals, workhouses, schools; in London he dwells simply on having „seen Newgate, and many other prisons:“ he regrets only missing Mrs. Fry. And when he came back he thought, with deep shame, that in faith and love Englishwomen far surpassed German men. It was not long till his thoughts found a practical outlet. The prison at Düsseldorf was no better than other prisons at this time. There was no classification of the prisoners, no schooling for the young, scarce any separation of the sexes. The filth was horrifying, the arrangements for sleeping and eating of the worst. The prisoners had no employment, and there was no effort to give them any spiritual instruction. Meanwhile the jailors grew rich, and the prison-boards fell asleep. Fliedner sought admission to the Düsseldorf prison, having more leisure, as he says, than his brethren, and obtained permission to preach in it every Sunday fortnight.“ Dazu paßt die höchst überlieferungstaugliche, symbolbehaftete Legende, daß Fliedner einst in einem Nachen in Kaiserswerth anlandete; um ernsthaft heilig gesprochen zu werden war er dennoch eine Spur zu protestantisch. Die grauen Diakonissen, zu Beginn aus Knästen und Armenfamilien rekrutiert, wandeln bis heute in zunehmend rarer Ausführung durch rheinische Landschaften und vermitteln dem unbedarften Beobachter das Gefühl, daß es hinter ihnen staubt. (O tempora, o mores!) Und London sollte stets als letzte und größte Stadt am Rhein gedacht werden, hier mal nebenbei.