The source for this information is from 200 Jahre Evangelische Kirche AB Nickelsdorf published by the congregation.


  According to the Chronicles of Eindringen the “new faith” as Lutheranism was first called was already abroad in Austria as early as 1521.  There were two primary reasons for this, Luther’s connections with the Humanist in Austria and the printing press.


  Between 1519-1522 there were reprints of fifteen of Luther’s writings by the Viennese printer Johann Singriener.  The first proscriptions against Lutheran and other teachings appeared on March 12, 1523 under the auspices of Emperor Ferdinand I.  On August 20, 1527 he demanded the return of all of his subjects to the true Catholic faith.  As a result the Reformation in Austria shrank into a very small circle prior to 1530.  In 1524 Kaspar Tauber of Vienna was condemned by a Church Court as a disciple of the Reformation teaching and was beheaded at the city gates and his body burned.


  In what was then known as Western Hungary the Reformation first entered the area in 1524.  The King of Hungary, Louis II ordered an investigation in Ödenburg (Sopron) because there were suspicions that the Lutheran heretics were at work in the area.  This investigation got nowhere, but it did lead to public book burnings in the city.  All books and writings supportive of the Reformation were banned in Hungary from 1518-1530.  Without the printing press the teachings of Luther could not have been spread so quickly.  It is interesting to note that twenty-nine of the thirty printers and publishers in Hungary were Protestants.


  The only breakthrough of Protestantism in northern Burgenland occurred in 1540.  At this point in time Hans von Weisspriach took over the estates of Eisenstadt and Mattersburg.  He called evangelical preachers to serve the parishes on the Domain.  The nobles including Batthyány (Güssing) Nadasdy (Deutsch Kreuz) Zrinyi (Eberau) who owned these estates accepted the Reformation faith by 1550.  At the same time the Lutherans had the overwhelming support of the citizens of Ödenburg and most of the city council and they established an evangelical school in the city in 1560 to train teachers and pastors.


  Of even greater importance for Lutheranism in Wieselburg County (Moson) was the establishment of a Lutheran congregation in Pressburg (Pozsony and now Bratislava).  In the spring of 1526 a Dr. Andreas was engaged by the city council to disseminate the teachings of Luther in the churches of the town.  In 1527 the city council had Luther’s writings printed and read in public and posted throughout the city.  The attempts of the citizens to have the local authorities comply with officially introducing the Reformation in the city led to Emperor Ferdinand I summoning the entire city council to Vienna in 1542 to answer some charges raised against the “heretics” of Pressburg.  Later it was only due to the intervention of the Emperor Maximillian II (1564-1576) that saved the citizens of Pressburg from a book burning ordered by the Archbishop of Gran (Estergom) who had sought sanctuary in Pressburg fleeing the Turks who were occupying most of Hungary at the time.  In 1564 Emperor Maximillian II gave the people of Pressburg the permission to receive the Lord’s Supper in both kinds (both the bread and wine).  This period of “compromise Catholicism” came to an abrupt end with the succession of Rudolf II to the throne.  In 1565 an Evangelical Lutheran congregation was formed in the city but its worship services were held secretly.


  Early in the 16th century the wife of Louis II of Hungary who was Maria of Habsburg became the feudal owner of the Domains of Ungarisch-Alternburg (Mosonmagyarovar).  After the death of her husband at the Battle of Mohács in 1526 the widowed Queen resided in Pressburg for some time.  Through George of Brandenburg who was the uncle and tutor of the young King, both he and the Queen came into contact with the teachings of Luther.  She saw in Luther the man to reform the Catholic Church and his teachings were spread far and wide on her feudal domains without hindrance.  In 1531 Maria became the Viceroy of the Netherlands in order to escape an investigation of her activities by the Inquisition.  Protestant leaning citizens administered her former domains and placed Protestant preachers in the churches and strengthened the spread of the new teaching throughout the area until 1582.  The fortress commander, Wonitzky took Huszar Gaal who was both a printer and preacher into his service.  He was permitted to preach to the soldiers in Wieselberg, Altenburg and the fortress at Raab (Györ) until 1560.  At that point he was ordered to leave the area.


  Other supporters of the new faith were the chief citizens of Altenburg:  Jacob von Stamp, Elias Ratwitz and above all Erasmus von Braun.  They provided for the installation of Lutheran preachers in Deutsch-Jahndorf, Jois, Zurndor and Nickelsdorf even though there was opposition from the Lower Austrian Court Chamber.


  A major factor in the spread of the new faith on the estates of Ungarish-Altenburg was the shortage of Roman Catholic priests.  Of the twenty-three communities on the Domains that had been settled in 1546, there were eleven without a priest and had to be served by neighbouring parishes, Zurndorf from Gols, Deutsch Jahrndorf from Ragendorf, and Nickelsdorf from Strasssommerein.  Young wandering preachers from Germany appeared and served the Roman Catholic parishes as well as the preachers that were appointed by the Chief Magistrates of Altenburg.


  In the second half of the 16th century Protestantism reached its highest point of strength in Wieselburg County.  About 75% of the pastorates were Lutheran and up to 90% of the population claimed to be Lutherans.


  Although there are no direct sources we can point to with regard to the beginnings of Lutheranism in Nickelsdorf the above tells something about that story and we can draw some conclusions.  The Reformation succeeded in Nickelsdorf because it belonged to the Domains of Ungarisch-Altenburg and because it was close to Pressburg.  The community was not very large and as a result a priest could not anticipate much of an income from baptisms, marriages and burials.  Like Deutsch-Jahndorf that was served by the priest in Ragendorf, Nickelsdorf had the services of the priest in Strasssommerein.  This vacant parish eagerly accepted the Lutheran preachers especially in light of the spiritual awakening that was taking place at the time.  The parsonage, church and other church property were given to the representatives of the new faith and they were given the freedom to teach and spread the evangelical faith.  It was only in 1582 when a Roman Catholic priest, Johann Wicelius arrived in Zurndorf to take over the parish but what kind of reception he received is unknown.


  In 1592 the parish was vacant again when Johann Tarfuess from Mönchof was assigned to Zurndorf.  It soon became apparent that the Monk’s Council had no idea of what kind of situation they had placed him.  He was unable to stay very long.  In effect the local population beat him up when they learned that he had come to return them to Roman Catholicism.  After the priest left, the community in consultation and support from Altenburg, installed a Lutheran preacher in the parish.  How long he would remain is not known.  Captain Breiner had him removed on orders of the Emperor after 1592.


  The peasant farmers in Nickelsdorf were mostly Lutherans and only a few of the cotters were Roman Catholic.  Because of the few Roman Catholics in Nickelsdorf and a meagre   source of income, the priest Jacob Krepmeyer in Weiden asked Archduke Matthias for permission to combine the parishes of Zurndorf and Nickelsdorf in 1600 to provide him with an adequate income.  This would occur and lasted until 1739.


  The Counter Reformation activities of the Roman Catholic officials and the Habsburgs were set into motion in 1565 and reached their first high point in 1580.  Hans von Weisspriach, the incumbent on the estates at Eisenstadt-Forchenstein died in that year.  Two years later, Erasmus Braun was removed as the fortress commander at Altenburg and was replaced by a Roman Catholic, Hans Preiner.  In 1578 Cardinal Georg von Draskovics (1525-1578) and also the bishop of the diocese of Raab became the Chancellor of Hungary as well as the Regent (1578-1585).  During his time in office the pressure and persecution unleashed against the Protestants increased constantly.  On the basis of the canonical visitation in 1579 in the diocese of Raab it can be ascertained that no Lutheran preachers served parishes under the jurisdiction of the monasteries.  Despite that a large portion of the population continued to hold to the “new faith” although sources of information are scanty for that period but the fact is obvious.  It was only after the Peace of Vienna in 1606 that the situation of the Protestants improved.  It resulted in the guarantee of religious liberty to all subjects but only if it not interfere with the status and pre-eminent position of the Roman Church.


  The former Jesuit, Peter Pazmany (1570-1637) became Archbishop of Estergom and began to break the power of Protestantism through the re-catholicisation of thirty noble families.  In 1619 he founded the Pazmaneum as a school for the training of priests to serve in Hungary.  In addition he erected chapter houses for the Jesuits all over Hungary.  Among others was the Ranthof (now a guest house:  Black Eagle) in Altenburg that became the headquarters for the Jesuits.


  The destruction of Protestantism in northern Burgenland began with Count Nikolaus Esterhazy taking over the estates of Eisenstadt-Forchtenstein in 1622.  Four years later he succeeded in driving out the Lutheran pastors who were operating undercover in the area.  It was only in two of the villages on the Esterhazy estates where the Lutherans were able to preserve their faith:  Seewinkel und Gols.  Lutheran church life also continued in those areas where the city of Ödenburg maintained their feudal rights over the adjacent villages i.e. Morbisch as well as in the free town of Rust and the villages that belonged to the Ungarisch-Altenburg Domains which were mortgaged at the time and changed hands among many different owners.


  Archduke Matthias sold the estates at Zurndorf, Ragendorf and Pallersdorf in 1608 to the future Paladin of Hungary, Stephen Illéshazy and his wife Katharina Pálffy for 20,000 Thalers and a few months later also Nickelsdorf, Kaltenstein and Strasssommerein.  After Illéshazy’s death his wife mortgaged the six communities for 60,000 Thalers.  As a result the villages were often called the Pálffy villages during the 1620s and later they were called “the Ragendorf estates”.


  The villages were later in the hands of her brother Nicolas Pálffy.  Through the marriage of his daughter Katharina to Sigismund Forgách the estates went to the Forgách family.  In 1644 Adam and Sigisumund Forgách mortgaged the Ragendorf estates for 81,624 Florins.  At that time they were to be turned over to another noble mortgager.   The Forgáchs gave up five of the villages to Count Zichy while keeping Ragendorf itself.


  According to the report of the canonical visitation in the second half of the 17th century the parishes were no longer part of Count Draskovics’s patrimony, instead they owed their allegiance to Count Zichy and Forgách.  Stephen Zichy is identified as the patron of Zurndorf and Kaltenstein in 1659 and 1663 and Pallersdorf in 1680.  Adam Forgách is identified as the owner of Nickelsdorf and Ragendorf in 1659, 1663 and 1680 and Countess Forgách is identified as the owner of Strasssommerein in 1659 and 1663.


  It is interesting to examine the Confessional development of these six congregations and communities.  It shows that these villages that were mortgaged to the Protestant Stephen Illéshazy remained Lutheran.  The only exception was the Croatian village of Pallersdorf.  Even though all of the succeeding owners of the estates were Roman Catholic, some of whom acted against the Lutherans, the greater majority of the population remained Lutheran.  In 1625, Ragendorf, Deutsch Jahrndorf, Strasssommerein, Katltenstein,   Zurndorf and Nickelsdorf were served by Lutheran pastors.


  Even though the Peace of Nikolsburg (1621) and the Peace of Pressburg (1626) were Ferdinand II’s (1619-16370 guarantee of religious freedom in Hungary, on October 5, 1627 he issued a general decree that the Protestants were placed under the discretion and jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic clergy.  This resulted in the confiscation of all church buildings from the Protestants throughout Western Hungary.  In the Peace of Linz (1645) between George Rakoczy and Ferdinand III, the Protestants were able to expand their rights.  It was decreed that the Protestants had a right to their churches and were not the possession of their feudal lords.  On the basis of Article VI of the Peace of Linz, 90 churches were returned to the Protestants in Hungary, among which were thirteen in present day Burgenland in Austria.  One of these churches was in Nickelsdorf.


  Since the introduction of the Reformation the Lutherans in Nickelsdorf held their services in the former Roman Catholic church since almost the total population was Lutheran.  In 1625 the congregations in Zurnodrf and Nickelsdorf shared a pastor.  In 1643 Katharina Pálffy the widow of the Paladin Sigismund Forgách forbade the holding of Lutheran services in the church.  This first attempt to re-catholicise the population of Nickelsdorf failed when the church was returned to the Lutheran congregation in 1647.


  The next news we have about the religious situation in Nickelsdorf is on the basis of the canonical visitation by a representative of the bishop of Raab in 1659.  The visitor, Szily reported the following:  “Nickelsdorf (Miklosfalva) belongs to the esteemed Lord Adam Forgách.   The visitor was prevented from making his visitation due to the preacher from Zurndorf and the local congregation of Lutherans.  They refused to co-operate or welcome me and as a result a protest was lodged against them to the County officials.”


  “The Church consecrated to St. Nickolas is in the hands of the Lutherans.  It has a stone steeple, three bells and has been renovated both on its exterior and interior.  The cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall.  The Lutherans make up the majority of the population in the village.  Six cottage owners and their families are Roman Catholics and some maids and hired hands working for the Lutherans, some forty souls in all.  They are a filial of Strasssommerein and go to church there.  The few souls provide 31 Gulden annually to the priest there.”


  “The community has erected a Lutheran schoolhouse and installed a Lutheran schoolmaster.  He receives 25 Gulden annually for teaching the boys of the village.  The Roman Catholics pay the same to the Roman Catholic teacher in Strasssommerein.”


  We are informed that the Lutherans refused to let the visitor enter the church again in 1663.  Little had changed on the religious scene since 1659.


  The people might have allowed the visitor to enter the church but a Lutheran nobleman named Armbruster rallied the people to oppose the visitation.  At the same time the congregation anticipated a visitation from the Lutheran “Superintendent” as their bishops were called.


  From the visitation reports it becomes obvious that the Lutherans always identified as “heretics” had a conscious theological identify and that they represented an overwhelming portion of the population because of their total lack of fear or respect for the bishop’s representatives and their defiance and opposition to his presence and mission in their community.  That they also had the support of local nobleman (Armbruster) also must have played a role.


  The actions taken against the Protestants throughout all of Hungary in the years 1669-1673 destroyed the structure and organization of the Lutheran Church in Hungary.  Following the uncovering of a plot that involved leading Roman Catholic magnates and nobles against Leopold I (1657-1705) he used this as a pretext to launch a massive prosecution of the Protestants that he held responsible for the plot.  This sounds very much like Jesuit logic.  This began the Decade of Sorrows for Hungarian Protestantism in which every Protestant was seen as a “political rebel” against established order.  With the condemnation of the Protestant nobility, Leopold I wanted to limit the freedoms of the Hungarian Constitution.  He easily found willing helpers within the Roman Catholic hierarchy, especially Bishop Count George Szecheny and Count Leopold Karl Kolonics who sought the unity of the Church in the Empire.


  All Protestant preachers and teachers both Lutheran and Reformed were ordered to Pressburg to appear before a “special court” established by the Court Chamber accusing them of besmirching and complaining against the Roman Church and were sentenced to either giving up their ministries and status or were banished to foreign exile.  Thirty of them were sold as galley slaves in Naples.


  In the period from 1671-1673 the Lutherans in Western Hungary had thirty-six of their churches confiscated.  The confiscations began on July 18, 1672 when the city church in Pressburg was taken over by the Jesuits.  On the 24th of August troops arrived in Kaltenstein, Strasssommerein, Zurndorf and Nickelsdorf to take possession of their churches.  In the Chronicles of the Church in Nickelsdorf the event is described in this way:


  “This is being written to record the persecution that our small Lutheran flock has suffered.  It is written in the name of the Church Fathers of the congregation and we hereby add our own personal signatures in testimony:


  Hans Blaser, Church Father

  Georg Zimmermann, Church Father

  Johann Stelzer, School Director

  Lorenz Falb, Council Member

  George Pingetzer, Notary

  Martin Meixner, Council Member


  It is important to note that this little book will not be made available to such people who cannot be trusted to keep secret what may be damaging to our congregation, church and school or cause damage or an uproar as result.  For it was with great joy that we worked very hard to maintain our church and school and provide for its furnishings.  And every year our Superintendent ordered that we were to prepare and write a report on all and any alterations, repairs or renovations we made.  So we want to leave our descendants with a record of what we and our forbears before us endured for the sake of our Evangelical Lutheran faith.  May God grant us the grace to do so.


  We find in the old writings that our ever present and loving God sent persecution upon our beloved Hungary and upon his little Lutheran flock.  In 1672 the persecution and “the cleansing” took on gruesome proportions so that the villages lying close to the Neusiedler See revolted.  In 1673 on St. Bartholomew’s Day (August 24th) the Bishop, Count Kolonics from Wiener Neustadt arrived in Nickelsdorf with forty soldiers and took up their position in front of our church and we were forced to hand over the keys.  In all of the surrounding villages all of the Lutherans were tortured and tormented in order to force them to embrace Roman Catholicism.  Those who refused were thrown into prison or were driven out of their homes.  A Lutheran leader, named Rosenmar and many, many others were dragged off to Altenburg.  They were imprisoned, beaten and punished and many of them recanted their faith.  After a long and terrible imprisonment Rosenmar left for Ödenburg still steadfast in his faith and an inspiration to all of the brothers and sisters.


  This Matthias Rosenmar was imprisoned for his faith in the dungeons at Altenburg for twelve weeks in 1674.  He then left all he had behind and headed to Ödenburg.  He had been born in Austria at Willendorf.  But as God Almighty allowed the persecution to break out all over Austria in 1652 Matthias fled to us in Hungary along with his aged father, Michael Rosenmar, who had been the Richter of Willendorf.”


  The confiscation of the churches did not result in the re-catholicisation of the population of Nickelsdorf as the report of the canonical visitation of 1680 clearly indicates.  As he inventories the furnishings and describes the building he makes a few noteworthy remarks.  In describing the altar painting of the Last Supper he notes it is Protestant in character.  He described the beautiful jewelled silver chalice and states, “The Lutherans had hidden the chalice at the time of the take over of the church and only after threats of punishment and fines did they surrender it.”  He also remarks that he has the distinct impression that the majority of the people in Nickelsdorf and Zurndorf only gave the impression of having been converted and secretly attended services in Ödenburg with most of them walking all of the way.  It was over one hundred kilometres.


  The situation of the Protestants was only slightly improved in 1681 as a result of the uprising led by Emmerich Thökölly in 1678 and new Turkish threats so that Leopold I was forced into making concessions.  At the Landtag (parliament) in Ödenburg in 1681 the Protestants in Hungary were able to win some concessions:


  The remaining Protestant population was protected from any further state actions against them.  Two Artikular churches of both the Lutherans and Reformed could be built in every County.  As a result the Nickelsdorf Lutherans attended worship in Pressburg.


  As soon as the Turkish threat was over, a Religious Commission was established in 1687 and an “Explanation” was released in 1691 that curtailed the limited freedoms won by the Protestants.  Worship could only take place in Artikular Churches.  Baptisms, marriages and Holy Communion could only take place in Artikular Churches.  Protestants had to celebrate all Catholic holy days and desist from work.


  Many of the embittered Protestants naturally joined the Kuruz rebels (1703-1711).  The situation in which the Protestants found themselves in the 18th century was little better.  The otherwise “humane” motherly Maria Theresia sharpened the “Explanation” of 1691 so that she added laws that forbade Hungarian students to study in foreign universities; canonical visitations by Roman Catholic bishops were imposed on all Protestant communities and children of mixed marriages were forced to be raised Roman Catholics in Catholic orphanages.


  Even though the former rights of the Protestants were cut back, step by step, it was still possible for groups of Lutherans to survive because some of the nobles and landlords did not implement or carry out the restrictive measures, while others went underground and became part of the Secret and Hidden Protestantism against which the Habsburgs inveighed again and again but without success.  Others were simply defiant.  These people when mentioned in the parish records by Roman Catholic priests are always referred to as Haeretici and were considered and treated as second-class citizens.


  What all of this looked like from the perspective of the “heretics” is described in the Church Chronicles in Nickelsdorf:


  “Those were piteous times for us as Lutherans.  We were tortured and tormented by all kinds of injustices inflicted upon us.  If a Lutheran bought a house and a Roman Catholic wanted it he could simply take possession of it without disputation allowed on the part of the Lutheran.  In all legal matters things were twisted to the disadvantage of the Lutherans.  On the last day of the feast of Mary each year a large number of the Lutherans were forced to go on pilgrimage not in order to pray but so that the local Roman Catholic priest could boast of the numbers from his parish.  On reaching the place of pilgrimage with the priest in the midst of his parishioners the Lutherans would then go on their own way.  But whoever did not go on pilgrimage was fined several pounds of beeswax.  This was in effect up until 1771.  There was only a prayer house in Pressburg and Ödenburg that we could attend.  As a result our services were held secretly in our homes and we had to sing quietly.  We went to Pressburg two or three times a year for confession and Holy Communion.  Especially during the spring and the fall large groups of our people would assemble on the banks of the Danube River across from Pressburg awaiting the arrival of a ferry to take them to the city.  It was often a long wait.  Others looked upon us with malice because they recognized that we were Lutherans on our way to worship in the city.  We were not permitted to hold office or positions of authority.  In Nickelsdorf only one of the village council members was allowed to be a Lutheran.  Our people who were day labourers were not allowed to seek employment elsewhere and would be fined if they did.  The Roman Catholic priests ruled over everything and in every town and market place there were convents and monasteries we were called upon to support.  We often had to endure terrible weather on the way to Pressburg and our pregnant women and nursing mothers had much with which to contend as did the old and the disabled.  The space in the old prayer house in the city was limited and could not accommodate the vast throngs of worshippers from the city and from all over the Heideboden.  Lutheran teachers and preachers were few and far between and were punished and tortured if apprehended and they could be beaten and taken into custody by anyone who discovered who they were.”


  As late as the canonical visitation of 1696 the visitor reported, “The inhabitants of Nickelsdorf are nothing more than a bunch of thick-headed stubborn Lutherans.”  At the beginning of the 18th century the visitor acknowledged, “Of the 522 inhabitants of the village only 26 are Roman Catholics and the other 496 are Lutherans.”


  A later canonical visitor in 1778 reported:


  “The largest portion of the population in Nickelsdorf 551 are Lutheran and 453 are Roman Catholic.  The two Confessions live at peace with another.”


  The visitor reported the facts but later in the report we learn he hated to accept them.  The Lutherans had to pay towards the support of the Roman Catholic priest, teacher and buildings.  If they sought to have a baptism or marriage performed by a Lutheran pastor in an Artikular Church they had to pay the fee to the priest in Nickelsdorf.  In 1772 the stipulation was rescinded by the County Administration.


  Almost one hundred years after the Decade of Sorrows an underground Lutheran Church had survived.  In 1787 the County Administration in Altenburg reported these statistics for Moson County:


  Nickelsdorf             297 Roman Catholics               491 Lutherans

  Gols                        184 Roman Catholics           1,340 Lutherans

  Strasssommerein    372 Roman Catholics               615 Lutherans

  Zurndorf                 280 Roman Catholics               526 Lutherans

  Kaltenstein             237 Roman Catholics               621 Lutherans

  Tatken                    577 Roman Catholics               110 Lutherans

  Ragendorf           1,016 Roman Catholics               795 Lutherans

  Leiden                 1,181 Roman Catholics               410 Lutherans

  Deutsch Jahrndorf  253 Roman Catholics               339 Lutherans


  Although the power of the Jesuits was curtailed during the reign of Maria Theresia (1740-1780) it would only be during the reign of her son Joseph II that the situation of the Protestants would change for the better with the Edict of Toleration in Hungary in 1781.


  In response to the Emperor’s Edict the following entry can be found in the Church Chronicle in Nickelsdorf:


  “When the good news of the Tolerance Patent was first announced some men from Zurndorf: Elias Husti, Hans Meixner and Johann Zopfl shared the joyous news with us and suggested that Nickelsdorf declare itself a filial since that had been the case in the past one hundred years.  The people of Nickelsdorf discussed the matter into the night and next morning sent word to the Zurndorf congregational leaders that representatives from Nickelsdorf would also journey to Pressburg to present their own petition.  The two groups left for Pressuburg where they would meet other delegations from the Heideboden.  In response to their applications four prayer houses were approved:  Gols, Ragendorf, Strasssommerein and either Zurndorf or Nickelsdorf.


  Discussions continued between Zurndorf and Nickelsdorf.  The leaders chose Zurndorf because a Lutheran nobleman now resided there and the pastors in the area favoured it and it became the Mother Church that meant that they could build a prayer house and have a resident pastor.  But one concession was made in that the pastor would hold services in Zurndorf one Sunday and the following Sunday in Nickelsdorf.  In Februay 1782 the Lutherans in Nickelsdorf petitioned the County Administration for permission to call and support a Lutheran schoolmaster as promised in the Edict of Toleration.  It took them until 1784 to get the permission they requested.


  Although Nickelsdorf was officially a filial of Zurndorf there were difficulties in the next few years with the Roman Catholic priests in the area who objected to the pastors extending their ministries beyond the Mother Churches into their parishes and claimed that their presence in their villages went beyond the parameters of the Edict.  There were confrontations in several of the filial communities that resulted in unrest and rebellion.


  Representatives from Zurndorf and Nickelsdorf travelled to Modern in Slovakia in search of a pastor, Michael Kübler the co-rector of the Lutheran school there.  On the day of Pentecost June 8, 1783 he was installed as the pastor of the two congregations.  The prayer house was built in Zurndorf 1782/1783.  The men from Nickelsdorf assisted in its building.  But their goal was to build their own the next year.


  In 1785 the final documents permitting Nickelsdorf to call a schoolmaster of their faith were received.  They elected the cantor in Zurndorf, Daniel von Toperczer.  They built a school in 1786.  In that same year, George Zimmermann was elected Richter, the first Lutheran in generations.  He learned that Joseph II would pass through the village on August 25, 1786 on a return journey from Budapest to Vienna.  As a result a congregational meeting was held and a resolution was passed to petition the Emperor for permission to build a prayer house.  Representatives to present the petition were chosen:  Johann Stelzer and Georg Pingetzer.  The Emperor received the petition graciously.  On December 14, 1786 permission was granted.  On October 11, 1787 the prayer house was consecrated.


  Following the First World War the Burgenland became part of Austria and that would   include Nickelsdorf that was now severed from the neighbouring Heideboden villages across the frontier to which it had always related throughout its history.


  Following the annexation of Austria to Germany by Adolph Hitler the local Nazi functionaries in Nickelsdorf were Lutherans.  The true face of Nazism was only shown after their consolidation of power.  The Confessional schools were confiscated; no Nazi Party leader could be a member of the church; the teaching of religion to children was limited; and the persecution and arrest of political opponents and the horrors of the concentration camps began.  The former premier of the Burgenland, Dr. Hans Sylvester born in Nickelsdorf died at the camp in Dachau in January 1939 and the true face of Nazism now became only too well known by the villagers of Nickelsdorf.


  Various pressures and specific laws regulated and limited church life.  The confiscation of the Lutheran schools was only the first step in eradicating a religious and Christian consciousness in the life of the people and nation.  The next step was closing down the Church press and organizations.  When the war began evening services were banned as part of the blackout procedures.  In 1940 a deaconess was called from Gallneukirchen to serve in Nickelsdorf.  She was Liesl Gruner and assisted the pastor Gustav Adolph Dörnhöfer who had just been made Superintendent of the Burgenland on July 28, 1940.  Few of the members of the Lutheran Church in Nickelsdorf withdrew their membership as ordered by the Nazi Party.  This was not true of some of the other congregations and as a result the authority of the church was weakened.


  As the front lines approached in 1944 the population was ordered to prepare to flee.  Between Palm Sunday and Maunday Thursday about 75% of the Lutherans in Nickelsdorf along with their pastor joined the evacuation.  Most of them were accommodated in Upper Austria where they remained until the end of the war and then in the summer they returned home.  They were now in the Russian Zone of occupation.


  Those who had remained behind had been cared for spiritually by Karl Wendelin one of the lay leaders of the congregation along with the new deaconess Luise Rumpeltes from Bikács.  Little damage had been done to the church and the congregation’s other property.  Several of the villagers lost their lives during the Red Army’s liberation chiefly by random shootings and several women and teenage girls were violated.


  The task now was a return to normalcy that only got under way once the Russian occupation of Austria ended.

One Response to “ Nickelsdorf in the Heideboden ”

  1. Thanks for finally writing about > Nickelsdorf in the Heideboden « Swabian Trek < Loved it!

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