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David Goeke and Theodore Schuetze

Monday 25 June 2018 at 8:35 pm.

According to Dr Annett Bresan (dr. Annett Brězanec) of the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen, "Theodor Schütze was a well-known personality. If I'm properly informed, he will get in summer 2018 some tablet or monument in his birthplace.

Theodor Schütze / sorbian name: Božidar Šěca

* 15. 1. 1900 Rachlau (Czorneboh) / Rachlow pod Čornobohom    

† 16. 4. 1986 Bautzen / Budyšin teacher, scientist/biologist

Son of Karl Traugott Schütze / Korla Bohuwěr Šěca; Education as teacher in teacher training college in Bautzen;  1922 teacher in Großwelka / Wulki Wjelkow, 1925-1945 teacher in Großpostwitz / Budestecy

Nekrolog – Rozhlad 36 (1986) 6, str. 190-192


This picture by Jürgen Matschie (#79-27-39) was recorded in autumn 1979 in the park of Schmochtitz.

It was a guided excursion of the "Kulturbund der DDR" to monuments in Schmochtitz. Theodor Schütze was the district monument caretaker. On his left is Herbert Flügel and to his right is Erich Lodni (city archivist). The man with the hat to his right is unknown. The three gentlemen knew each other and have the same destinies. All attended the State Seminary in Bautzen and were trained as teachers. In 1933 they entered the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party) as junior teachers and were no longer allowed to work as teachers after 1945. Due to their good training, they found work elsewhere. Jürgen Matschie

From Dave Goeke:

In the past, I've mentioned my acquaintance with Theodore Schütze, the well known Wendish scholar and "Denkmalpfleger" who lived in Grosspostwitz long before the wall came down. He was often written up in a periodical called "Bautzener Kultureschau." He was the first person to translate some of Kilian's Wendish into German for me. I learned of him through Gerhard Simmank, a long time correspondent who lived in Frankfort am Main. For Schütze's services, I sent him coffee, sugar, cloth, cigars, etc., which were smuggled in to him via Simmank. At first all correspondence with him went through Simmank. After a while, however, Schütze began to write me directly. I came across one of his letters to me, along with a photocopy of his picture which he sent me. Looking back, I really feel honored to have personally corresponded with one of the great 20th century Wendish scholars. I'm attaching the translation of one of the first letters I got from him along with the photo of himself that he sent me. There's something that gives me a sense of pride to have developed a relationship with this Wendish scholar. He was in 80's when I came to know him.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share this with you.

Following is the initial correspondence between David Goeke and Theodore Schuetze:

DDR 8603 Grosspostwitz, 1/14/1979


Mr. David I. Goeke

110 Morning Valley

San Antonio, Texas 78227


Very honored Mr. Goeke!

I recently receive a letter by way of friendly exchange from Mr. Gerhard Simmank, Frankfurt/Main, which you had written to me on October 10, 1978 which aroused my interest very much. Mr. Simmank also sent me three photos about Serbin shortly before Christmas which you had intended for me. Many thanks for all of it! I had translated a number of obituaries by Pastor Jan Kilian for you which were important to you in your genealogy explorations and, that apparently gave you great pleasure. I want to assure you that it was a pleasure to do the translations since Pastor Kilian had a good grasp of the Wendish language and was precise enough in his writing. This was educational for me, as well. You may, if needed, send me copies. Be aware, however, that it will generally take some time with me before I can get to work on it. I have many assignments here on cultural subjects and also have widespread correspondence so, there is little time to attend to other things one might like to do. As a widower I also live in rather primitive conditions and I am currently not well and pressed hard by a severe winter.

I was surprised and delighted to read of your vivid interest in your Sorbian ancestry and that you are even proud of it. Your current family name, however, does not offer a hint of it. It is sad that Texas and Upper Lusatia are so far apart and that it is difficult to come together! The home of your ancestors is a beautiful land worth loving. I stayed here after 1945, even though I had to survive much difficulty, and have no thought of leaving. Do you have any pictures and books about Upper Lusatia? It is surprising that one still knows of many customs of the Wends where you are. With us the Vogelhochzeit (wedding of the birds) is still very much in vogue, the dear children make sure of it: the Vogelhochzeit is also well presented by Sorbian artists in very lovely musical form (Sorbian Ensemble). The Easter Ride is still performed by the Sorbian Catholics and the coloring of Easter eggs is practiced by the Evangelicals and in some places they are still fetching Easter water. The ancient Spring Fire, also known as the Witches Fire, is still lit most everywhere in the evening of April 30th.

Do you still have plans for a Sorbian Home Festival at your place this year? Mr. Simmank wrote to me about it once. I look at your three photos quite frequently and also show them to many people. I would be thankful if you had some more from Serbin or San Antonio. Picture postcards would suffice. As an aside, the pastor’s name was not John but Jan Kilian as it should have been scribed on his monument. He was born in Döhlen am Czorneboh, a small village an hour away from here. I have searched for ancestors of mine in the book “In Search of a Home” which was passed on to me through the graciousness of Mr. Simmank. I did not find any by the name of Schuetz. Ancestors of my mother, Albert in Rachlau, are among the Australian Wends. Only the ancestors of my daughter-in-law, Prochno in Rackel, are identified in the list.

I did not think that my letter would be this long. I hope that you did not regret the time it took to read it. I wish for you now a good year with splendid health and lots of pleasure.


Theodor Schuetze


Herrn Theodor Schütze den 20 März, 1979

DDR 8603


Sehr geehrte Herr Schütze,

Zuerst, möchte ich Ihnen recht herzlich danken für Ihren Brief von 14.1.1979. Sie können es kaum glauben wie erfreut ich war als ich Ihren Brief bekam. Haben Sie mein allerherzlichen Dank für die Übersetzung die Sie für mich angefertigt haben. Ich bin so sehr froh darüber. Es ist für mich eine Ehre dass Sie mir die Leichenpredigt übersetzt haben, weil jetzt weiss ich das alles in Richtigkeit übersetzt ist.

Unser Plan für das 125ste Jubiläum der Sorbische Einwanderung besteht noch. Wenn alles nach unser Plan geht, werden wir eine Fest an 24 Juni, 1979, feiern. Da werden wire in grosses Picnic haben. Auch werden wir einen dreisprächigen Gottesdienst haben (Englisch, Deutsch, Sorbisch). Leider gibt es nur einen Pastor der auf sorbisch predigen kann. Mehr schade ist es dass nur noch wenige Leute fliessend sorbisch sprechen können. Wir werden auch einen Film zeigen über Serbin und der sorbischen Einwanderung. Es wird sehr nett sein und ich sehe schon der Feier mit Freuden entgegen. Noch schöner würde es sein wenn Sie auch hier sein könnten. Ich möchte Sie gerne persönlich kennen lernen.

Ich lege einige Fotos und Ansichtskarten bei. Ein Foto ist von der Innenseite der Kirche zu Serbin. Die Kirche wurde zwischen 1867-1871 erbaut. Ein Foto ist von Herrn Pastor Jan Kilian. Zwei Fotos sind von der Glocke der Sorben die sie von Deutschland mitgebracht hatten und die ihnen bis 1915 gedient hat. Auf der einen Seite der Glocke steht folgendes eingeschrieben: “ Gottes Wort und Luther’s Lehr’ , vergehet nun und nimmermehr”. Auf der anderen Seite steht: “ Gegossen von Fr. Gruhl in Kleinwelke, 1854”. Die Ansichtskarten sind etliche Landschaftsbilder in Texas und besonders auch in San Antonio, Texas, wo ich wohne.

Herr Schütze, haben Sie von dem “Lebenswecker” gehört? Der Lebenswecker war eine Volksmedizin. Er wurde hier in Texas oft bei den Sorben benutzt. Die Sorben hatten er mitgebracht aus Deutschland. Er ist ein Apparat welcher ungefähr acht Zoll lang ist. An einem Ende gibt es ungefähr dreizig kleine Nadeln. Innenseits des Griffs ist ein Sprungfeder. Mann zieht den Griff, läs es los, und die Nadeln stechen die Haut. Dann reibt mann etwas “Lebenswecker Öl” in die Wunde und dann war alles fertig. Vielleicht war dies ein Vorgänger der Akupunktur. Ich möchte auch fragen ob sie von “Das Siebente Buch Moses” gehört haben. Mann sah es an als Hexenbuch. Die Sorben in Texas waren früher sehr abergläubisch.

Ich muss für heute schliessen. Noch tausendmal Dank für Ihre Freundlichkeit.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen,

David Goeke


Mr. Theodor Schuetze, 20 March 1979

DDR 8603


Very honored Mr. Schuetze,

First of all, I wish to thank you from my heart for your letter of January 14, 1979. You can hardly imagine how delighted I was when I receive your letter. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the translation that you did for me. I’m extremely pleased about it. It is an honor for me that you translated the burial sermon as I now know that it was done correctly.

Our plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Sorbian emigration is still on schedule. If everything proceeds according to plan, the event will be celebrated on the 24th of June, 1979. We will feature a large picnic gathering and intend to have religious service in three languages (English, German Sorbian). Regretfully, there is only one pastor who is able to preach in Sorbian. And it is even sadder that very few people are still capable of speaking fluently in the Sorbian language. We will also be showing a film about Serbin and the emigration of the Sorbs. It will be enjoyable and I am looking forward to the festivities among friends. It would be even nicer if you could be with us. I would love to get to know you, in person.

I am enclosing a few photos and picture postcards. One photo shows the inside of the church at Serbin. The church was built between the years 1867-1871. Another photo is of Pastor Jan Kilian. Two pictures are of the bell which the Sorbs brought with them from Germany. The following inscription appears on one side of the bell: “God’s Word and Luther’s teaching, will not wane now or evermore”. On the other side it is written: “Cast by Fr. Gruhl in Kleinwelke, 1854”. The picture postcards depict some rural locations in Texas and, especially, also San Antonio, Texas, where I reside.

Mr. Schuetze, have you heard of “Lebenswecker” (that which awakens life)? The Lebenswecker was a folk medical procedure. It was frequently used by the Sorbs in Texas who had brought it with them from Germany. It is a device about 8 inches long. There are some 30 small needles on one end. A spring is located inside the handle. The tension is released as one pulls on the handle and the needles penetrate skin. Lebenswecker oil was then rubbed into the wound which concluded the operation. Might that have been the precursor of acupuncture? Might I also ask if you have heard of “The Seventh Book of Moses“? It was considered a witching book. The Sorbs were very superstitious.

I will have to close for today. Again, a thousand thanks for your friendliness.

With friendly greetings,

David Goeke

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