Shores of Hope

Copies of Shores of Hope can be purchased from the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, 1011 CR 212, Giddings, TX 78942 or through the Executive Director,  or online at

Preface to the English Edition

“Božo, daj, zo docpimy ze wšěch strachow wumóženi k brjoham našej’ nadźije!” (“God grant that we protected from all dangers reach the shore of our hope!”) This was the prayer of the Wendish emigrants offered before the voyage across the wide ocean in a poem written by Pastor Johann Kruschwitz in 1869. The title for this book, Shores of Hope, is taken from this very personal petition for gracious protection from the dangers at sea.

The book was written in the early 1990s. During the decades of Socialism in East Germany, the history of the Wendish emigration bad been widely ignored. As a result, after the reunification of Germany in 1990, there was a great desire to work on this moving chapter of Wendish history. The opening of the borders and the unrestricted travel freedom led many visitors from Australia and Texas and other countries to Lusatia. They sought their roots in the homeland of their ancestors and awakened an interest in the history of the Wendish emigration, in which the individual life stories of the emigrants are imbedded.

Initially, the book was written for readers in Lusatia. In 1995, it appeared in Wendish and in German, and in 1999 a second German edition was published. From my perspective, there was no intent to publish this book in English because it was written from a European standpoint for Europeans. Additionally, George R. Nielsen’s groundbreaking study, In Search of a Home, had already been in English for years. The request to have Shores of Hope accessible to the English-speaking descendants of Wendish emigrants overseas was repeatedly made in recent years, especially in Texas. Now Dr. David Zersen, President Emeritus at Concordia University Texas and Managing Editor of Concordia University Press, has accepted the challenge to publish the entire book. For this he is heartily thanked. My thanks are also extended to the three translators, the typographic designer, and the proofreaders who helped bring the story to English speaking shores.

The English version is based on the 1999 German edition. Added are merely some detailed matters related to new understandings and a short chapter about the Wends in Iowa about which little information was available at the time of the publication of the book a decade ago.

May Shores of Hope provide the reader with a living picture of the Wendish emigration and may it contribute to a contemporary understanding and deepening of relationships between the Wends in Lusatia and the descendants of the Wends overseas.


Bautzen, Germany

July 2009

Preface to the 1999 Edition

This book addresses an interesting chapter in the history of Lusatia, specifically the exodus of several thousand Wends to overseas countries in the 19th century. For decades, researchers in the USA and Australia have concerned themselves with the Wendish immigration. A great number of publications, among which George R. Nielsen’s groundbreaking study In Search of a Home needs to be mentioned, testify to the results. In contrast, hardly any mention of the theme is to be found in Lusatia. This situation has little to do with disinterest, but is rather the result of the controlling political relationships prior to 1989. Without overseas contacts and without free access to source material abroad, it was a pointless undertaking to concern oneself with the theme.

After Germany’s political change in 1989 the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen addressed this deficit in Lusatian history.

In 1992, a two-year research project was undertaken. The results set the groundwork for two books published in 1995: K brjoham nadźije and Ufer der Hoffnung, through which Wendish and German readers for the first time received the opportunity to inform themselves about the transoceanic emigration of the Wends. Due to growing requests the publisher decided on a new edition of the German work.

Ufer der Hoffnung (Shares of Hope) makes the attempt to offer a complete presentation of the Wendish emigration. The reader receives an overview of the process of the Wendish emigration movement, of the fate of the emigrants in their new homelands, and of their integration into the environment. Included in this presentation is existing scholarly consensus as well as new insights and understandings, especially from the Lusatian perspective. Three chronologically ordered segments starting with the beginning of the emigration present the destinations of the emigrants: Australia, Texas, and Other Countries. In both an introduction and a conclusion, the cause of the emigration and the current Wendish heritage is briefly presented. As an appendix, George R. Nielsen’s list of the names of the Wendish emigrants is attached.

To illustrate subjects described in the text, excerpts from contemporary documents have been assigned to individual chapters. In the text itself, an attempt is made to reconstruct history on the basis of facts, and given the countless potential conflicts, to maintain objectivity and to avoid premature judgments.

In this second edition, the overall picture of the emigration history remains unchanged. Only a few sections were reworked in order to give more precision to expression, to make a few corrections, to add relevant new knowledge, to add the list of the deceased on the Ben Nevis, and to provide in the appendix further names from the State of lowa. Shores of Hope seeks not merely to tell the story of the past. lt also wants to awaken interest and understanding of the past and the present state of a small Slavonic nation and make a contribution to the development of fruitful contacts between Lusatia and the descendants of the Wends on other continents.

My thanks are extended to all who participated in the development of this book.

First, I thank those who made the research project possible. Prof. Helmut Fasske, until 1992 the director of the Institute for Sorbian Folk Research in Bautzen, made it possible for the project to come to fruition. Prof. Dietrich Scholze, Director of the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen, assigned the research. The project was carried out under the auspices of the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen and by the Saxon Ministry of Science and Culture. The Support Group for Sorbian Culture and Art provided important preparation.

Additionally, my thanks are offered to all who provided access to research material. Without the willingness of individuals, organizations, and institutions in Germany, the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Canada it would not have been possible to assemble the extensive materials that were necessary for the completion of this book. About thirty people from Lusatia responded to an extensive public search in 1992 and made available letters in their possession about the emigration. This previously unknown material brought about new understandings.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to mention all these donors by name. The many descendants of Wendish emigrants in Australia, Texas, and Canada who shared family and place chronicles, documents, and photographs, as well as research conclusions, must also remain unnamed.

The Texas Wendish Heritage Society in Serbin made it possible for me to have a three week study trip in Texas in 1992 and provided comprehensive picture and text material. Permission was given to view the parish archives in Klitten, Weissenberg, Werben, Hochkirch, and Gröditz. Help in undertaking this research was provided by Beverley Gotzky in East Malvern, Victoria; Robert Wuchatsch in Melbourne, Victoria; Kevin P. Zwar in Croydon, Victoria; John Doecke in Berri, Australia; Bill Biar in Denver, Colorado; Leo Symmank in New Orleans, Louisiana; Mary Chudobiak in Ottawa, Ontario; Georgie Boyce, Texas Wendish Heritage Museum in Serbin, Texas; Roy Eric Alan Ledbetter, Archive of Concordia Historical Institute in St. Louis, Missouri; Rheinhold Wuensche, Archive of Texas District-LCMS, in Austin, Texas; Lyall Kupke, Lutheran Archives in Adelaide, South Australia; Siegfried Grabs, Valhalla Research Center, in Moose Creek, Ontario; Staff of the Kaffrarian Museum, in King William’s Town, South Africa; State Archive in Hamburg, Germany; Shipping Museum in Bremerhaven, Germany; Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany; City Archive in Bautzen, Germany; Sorbian Culture Archive and Sorbian Central Library in Bautzen, Germany.

Dr. George Nielsen, Professor Emeritus at Concordia University Chicago, generously provided permission to include in this book his list of the names of the Wendish immigrants. Information about the activities of the Wendish organizations in Australia and Texas were provided by Paul Noack, President of the Australian Lusatian Society in South Australia, and by Dr. Joseph Wilson, Professor Emeritus at Rice University in Houston.

Finally, Lucia Boehme is to be thanked for the preparation of the manuscript and Eberhard Kahle for the impressive form that the book assumed.



October 1999


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