On the night of 10 / 11 December 1942, the German Lutheran writer and poet Jochen Klepper committed suicide with his Jewish-Christian wife, Johanna, and her youngest daughter, Renate, in their Berlin home. This act was preceded by frantic negotiations with Swiss, Swedish, and German authorities to arrange for the emigration of Renate; her older sister, Brigitte, had managed to leave Germany for Great Britain already in May 1939. On 9 December, Klepper had received the final No from the German authorities. The gas chambers of some German concentration camp were the all but certain destination for Klepper’s wife and her daughter; they chose instead to die of gas at home.
Jochen Klepper’s Christmas hymn, “The night will soon be ending,” translated by H. G. Stuempfle, has – for the first time in an English-language hymnal, it appears – been included in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s new hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (# 337). One of his evening hymns, "I Lie, O Lord, within Your Care," is also included in this hymnal (# 885). Who was Klepper? What was his theological stance? What led to his suicide? What is the remainder of his work like?
 An Overview of Klepper’s Life
In 1903, Jochen Klepper was born as the son of a Lutheran pastor in Silesia who came out of Moravian Pietism. After graduating from high school, Klepper studied theology at Erlangen and Breslau. While Erlangen’s Lutheranism does not seem to have offered much of interest to the young student, he did find his life-long theological mentor in Breslau: Rudolf Hermann. Hermann, professor of systematic theology first in Breslau, then in Greifswald and Berlin, was one of the leading figures of the so-called Luther Renaissance in post-WWI Germany. At Breslau, he was also influenced by the systematician E. Schaeder and his “theocentric theology” and by NT exegete, E. Lohmeyer, who possibly helped prepare Klepper’s later willing association with the sufferings of the Jewish people.
Klepper left Breslau seminary without graduating; he felt too sick for the burdens of the pastoral office. He began working for Protestant media (print and later radio) in Silesia instead. In 1929, still in Breslau, he met his future wife, the (assimilated) Jewess Johanna Stein-Gerstel, the widowed heiress to a Nuremberg fashion house, who was renting out to Klepper one room in her spacious villa. Both shared an interested in radio work and fashion. After getting married in a civil ceremony in 1931, much to the dismay of Klepper’s family, the couple and Johanna’s two daughters, Brigitte and Renate, moved to Berlin. In April 1932, Klepper begins writing a diary which he later called his “auto-psychotherapy” in which he would soon reflect on the day’s events in light of a biblical word. Much to the satisfaction and joy of Klepper, Johanna and Renate were baptized later.
When Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists took over Germany’s national government in January 1933, Klepper’s professional and private life became increasingly troubled. Not only had he for a short time been a member of the Social Democratic Party, he also was married to a Jewish wife. This made any career in the state-run media impossible; even the privately-owned publishing houses had to let Klepper go after a time. He was even prohibited from publishing anything because, as one living in a “mixed” marriage, he was excluded from the Nazi-controlled Reich's Chamber of Publication (Reichsschrifttumskammer) in 1937.
Yet largely due to his opus magnum on King Friedrich Wilhelm I in Prussia, Der Vater: Roman des Soldatenkönigs (The Father: Novel of the Soldier-King), that was published three weeks before his exclusion from the Reichsschrifttumskammer, and was widely popular among high-ranking army officers (and the former German emperor), Klepper was granted an exception that allowed him to continue his work as a free-lance writer and poet. He wrote essays for several smaller publications during this time. Noteworthy is his collection of spiritual hymns, Kyrie, which was published in 1938 and contains the abovementioned Christmas hymn. This booklet became immediately popular. Many of the poems were set to music by young composers in the following years in the characteristic word-centered style of the German church music renewal of the time and are used in German Protestant churches to this day.
The Kyrie collection – by 1940, Klepper had added further hymns to this collection – also led to attempts by the Bekennende Kirche (Confessing Church) to win Klepper as a writer and speaker for their cause. Yet Klepper, certainly limited by his private situation and the conditions attached to the exception that allowed him to continue to publish, refused to accept these offers. As will be shown below, Klepper, who had no sympathies for the Nazi-supporting Deutsche Christen (German Christians), also had theological qualms about joining the confessional camp. The same is true of the Berneuchen Brotherhood of St. Michael with which he was in contact through his friend, Rev. K. Meschke and whose co-founder and co-leader, W. Stählin, also spoke well of Klepper’s work.
Already in 1935, while he was still working on his book on the Prussian king, he decided that his next major historical novel project would be dedicated to Katharina von Bora and the first Lutheran parsonage under the tentative title, Das Ewige Haus (The Eternal House). This project, occupying his last years after finishing Der Vater, would remain a fragment – according to Klepper’s own judgment, it had to remain in this state so long as his real family and house remained fragmented.
Out of patriotic feelings and in an attempt to ameliorate the situation for his wife and her daughter Renate, Klepper volunteered for the German army in 1940 and participated in the Balkans campaign and in the early stages of the campaign against the Soviet Union, first taking care of the horses of his regiment, then with the supply unit of his division. In the fall of 1941, however, he was discharged because of his Jewish wife. While Klepper, as late as 1939, had a hard time understanding what he called the “emigration psychosis” in Jewish circles, he and his family – paralyzed by the gradual recognition of the inevitability of the fate of all Jews within reach of Nazi Germany and worn out by their constant dealings with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy that was moving slowly but effectively – realized too late that the doors were closed for them: While Switzerland refused to accept Renate, Sweden did open its gates in early December 1942. Yet despite a recommendation by Rudolf Frick, the Third Reich’s secretary of the interior, Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking SS-official in charge of granting emigration permits to Jews, decided otherwise.
Having apparently entertained the idea of suicide for some time, the three Kleppers put their plan into practice on the night of 10 December 1942. The family is given a simple Christian burial by their congregation in Berlin-Nikolassee.
 Klepper’s Theology: Luther – Pietism – Church – Israel – Predestination – Suicide
 Klepper's Studies at Erlangen and Breslau: Luther, Schleiermacher, Rudolf Hermann
Klepper studied theology at Erlangen and Breslau during the years of a renewed appreciation for Luther in German Lutheran theology, the “Luther Renaissance” led by Karl Holl (1866-1926). These years are just prior to the 400th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1930. What are the classes on related topics he took during his studies? While at Erlangen (1922-23), he, in addition to an overview-lecture on the history of the church in the age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation, took a class on “Luther’s Psyche” by Hans Preuß – a title quite in keeping with the Schleiermacherian color of the Luther revival and its focus on Luther’s experience of justification.
During his first semester at Breslau, Klepper continues along this line by attending a class by Rudolf Hermann on “Basic Questions of Psychology of Religions.” A year later, he takes classes on “Interpretation of Characteristic Texts, Bulls, Decrees of the Reformation Age” by Leopold Zscharnack; “Ethics” and “Anselm: Cur Deus Homo?” by Hermann. Additionally – and this too is relevant due to the roots of the Luther Renaissance in the philosophy of German Idealism (Kant and esp. Fichte) – he attends a class on “Immanuel Kant and German Christian Idealism” by Karl Bornhausen. In the following semester (winter 1924/25), Klepper, in addition to a class on “Sources of the 17th and 18th Century” (Zscharnack), takes R. Hermann’s class on “Schleiermacher’s Theology.” Next, he attends Hermann’s classes on “Thoughts from Luther’s Interpretation of Scripture for Theology and Life” and “The Dogmatic Systems since Schleiermacher.” Finally, during the winter semester 1925/26, he attends a class with church historian Erich Seeberg – he had studied Augustine in the previous semester with him – on “Luther’s View of the Sacraments.” Already in 1925, Klepper began writing his licentiate thesis under the supervision of Seeberg; while the exact theme is unknown, the work seems to have centered on G. Arnold and A. H. Franke. In 1928, Klepper left this project unfinished and thus remained without a theological degree.
 Lutheranism in the 1920s and 1930s: Luther, a Forerunner of Hitler?
It is apparent that in the course of his studies Klepper gained solid knowledge of Luther’s theology, especially through the lens of Hermann’s lectures and seminars. His diary frequently mentions Luther, especially as a comforting preacher of the gospel. In view of the heated (ecclesial and political) controversies surrounding Luther in the years after WWI, this solid training cannot be overestimated. On the one hand, and contrary to certain modern myths featuring Luther as the forerunner of Hitler, the Reformer was by no means a natural champion of the religiously inspired followers of Hitler. Following J. G. Fichte and P. de Lagarde, Luther’s rediscovery of, and emphasis on, the Pauline gospel of justification was held against him among some, because this gospel was seen as essentially Jewish, a falsification of the “German” gospel of the Aryan Christ himself. On the other hand, others, by anachronistically taking their cues from Luther’s German nationality and by racially distorting Luther’s writings on the Jews, saw in him indeed the German prophet quite in line with the enthusiastic revival of the German nation brought about by Hitler; the 450th anniversary of Luther’s birth in 1933, the year Hitler ascended to power, was meant as a kick-off to a grandiose national evangelism campaign. A third group was, despite its inner theological diversity, united at least in avoiding both errors and in seeking to teach Luther as the one who, with the one biblical gospel in hand, reformed the one church of Jesus Christ before whom all nations are equal. H. Sasse belongs to this group as well as P. Althaus and R. Hermann.
 The Confessions, the Confessing Church, the National Church, and Pietism
 Hermann on the Confessions, the Church, and the Nation
Via Hermann, Klepper was thus connected to the national-conservative Lutheran opposition to neo-Germanic distortions and rejections of Luther. At the same time, one also notices that he, perhaps not atypically at the time despite the upcoming anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1930, did not take any classes in the Lutheran Confessions (were any offered?) and that, beyond the occasional quote from the Small Catechism, there appears to be no echo of the confessions in Klepper’s writings. Hermann’s view of the confessions is perhaps informative for Klepper’s own. Unlike Sasse, Lutheran theology for Hermann, like for Holl, is defined almost exclusively by Luther and justification. Adding a good dose of (the Reformed) Schleiermacher, one can understand why the Luther scholar Hermann is a proponent of the Lutheran-Reformed church union. In this context, he, in a 1930 article, views the Augsburg Confession as a document of Lutheran openness to fellow Protestant church bodies and, emphasizing the invisible church, plays justifying faith off against “belief in doctrines and articles,” and holds to a personal presence of Christ in communion.
This aversion to doctrinal strictness (“legalism”) is then also one of the factors that, around the mid-1930s, gradually estrange Hermann from the Confessing Church. This “strictness” many, no doubt, saw culminating in Bonhoeffer’s famous 1936 statement: “Who knowingly separates himself from the Confessing Church in Germany, separates himself from salvation.” The question of whether to establish seminaries outside of the university exclusively within the church’s realm, an idea Hermann rejected, was another factor. The common denominator of these points – and ultimately Hermann’s reason to decline further cooperation with the “confessionals” and to cooperate instead with the “official” church – is Hermann’s fear that a “rigid” confessing church would be a church estranged from the people, the nation, which would leave state and nation vulnerable to the influence of other gods. Church, for Hermann, was the Volkskirche, the church in close though critical solidarity to a concrete nation.
 Klepper, the Church, Prussia, and Pietism
This stance is apparently also Klepper’s. It explains, on the one hand, his opposition to the Confessing Church whose purposes he, despite some early sympathies, ultimately rejects as exclusively “political.” It also explains, on the other hand, Klepper’s warm admiration for King Friedrich Wilhelm I who traditionally is viewed as a despotic monarch meddling in the affairs of the Lutheran church. Klepper not only publishes a two-volume biography of the ruler in 1937; in the following year, and as an outgrowth of his work on the king and perhaps also building on research for his unfinished licentiate thesis, Klepper edits a little volume titled Der König und die Stillen im Lande on the king’s encounters with leaders of (Lutheran) Pietism in Prussia, i.e., A. H. Francke and his son G. A. Francke; J. A. Freylinghausen; and N. L. Count of Zinzendorf. In his introduction, Klepper paints the picture of a king who is deeply religious and seeks to increase the number of Christians in his realm, but who is also eclectic in his personal beliefs: While himself a Calvinist who does not believe the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, he agrees with Lutherans on (a synergistic understanding of) predestination, but also has rosaries handed out to his elite regiment, the Potsdam Giants. Because he believes that all Christian churches “agree on the main things” and because Lutherans and Calvinists are the largest confessions in his realm (and because he views worship as “the main pillar of the well-established government”), he continues the union policy of his predecessors that cost Paul Gerhardt his pastorate in Berlin: Among other things, he forbids “religious polemics” in sermons, has a Lutheran pastor install a Calvinist and vice versa, and favors the irenic theological simplicity of “practical Christianity.”
Because of this, the Prussian king views the “quiet ones in the land” – that is, the Pietist “evangelists” who, like A. H. Francke who founded the famous orphanage in Halle, promoted a socially active faith that did not threaten the Prussian state’s cohesion – as his natural allies. These men, while Lutheran by confession, keep the “official” differences between the confessions to themselves and preach simple sermons concerning God’s wrath and grace and the Christian life which the king finds personally edifying. Count Zinzendorf, in whose Moravian community the various “evangelical” confessions find a peaceful coexistence, becomes a particularly important example for Friedrich Wilhelm and his religious policies. Through his father at home and the influence of Schleiermacher at Breslau seminary, the Count is important also for Klepper himself. This finds its expression in Klepper’s use of the famous daily Herrnhut Losungen (“watchwords,” also known as Moravian Daily Texts) that, beginning in 1933, typically open his diary entries.
Klepper’s apparent high regard for Zinzendorf and other Pietists possibly also shaped his struggle to come to an appropriate self-understanding as Christian writer which he, right around the time of his work on the two books dealing with Friedrich Wilhelm and the “quiet ones in the land,” defines in pastoral terms. It is quite possible that Klepper, in his calling as Christian writer, at this time understood himself as such a “quiet one” since Zinzendorf viewed the “quiet ones” as “living members of the church” and as leaven in church and world. First a 1940 paternal letter of Hermann directs him away from confusing his vocation as a writer with that of a pastor.
 Klepper and Catholicism
While Klepper thus betrays a blurring of the lines between the Protestant confessions that cannot be reconciled with Luther but has a longstanding tradition in Germany, especially in Prussia, he is quite clear about his reservations over against Catholicism. Even the deep impact that acclaimed Catholic writer Reinhold Schneider had on him cannot sway him; and despite numerous conversions to Roman Catholicism among friends and colleagues during the years of Nazism, Klepper remains a Protestant. Here too the guidance of R. Hermann is apparent.
 Klepper and the Jews: Marriage, Conversion, Baptism
Klepper is also quite clear about the need of Jews to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. While not popular in much of today’s Protestantism engrossed in formulating a dispensationalist “theology after Auschwitz,” this alone explains Klepper’s heartfelt relief after his wife’s and youngest step-daughter’s baptisms noted above. In fact, while the baptism of his wife is typically acknowledged in passing, his daughter’s baptism is often not mentioned at all. It seems that – given that the literature on Klepper is filled with head-shaking and hand-wringing over his “naïve” unwillingness or inability to leave the murderous Nazi state but no thought is spent on the importance of baptism in Klepper’s life and in the life of his family – an important facet of his theology, life, and self-understanding as a writer is missed. He is criticized for his attitude of “inner immigration,” while the radical emigration out of this evil world that baptism afforded him and his family is not appreciated at all.
It is certainly true that by his marriage to a (secular!) member of the Jewish people Klepper knew himself to be united to this people in a special way, especially in the sufferings of this people. This closeness lets him take in all discriminations against Jews, all the rumors and facts about deportations and death camps with a different level of existential involvement, ultimately leading his family into suicide. It greatly upsets him to see his Protestant church abandon its Jewish-Christian members under government pressure to the point of not even being willing to pray for these fellow Christians and for the unconverted. In fact, he soberly describes himself as being “in the Jewish fate” and denies his wife’s request to divorce him to prevent his career from suffering under their marriage. After all, by marriage he was one flesh with a Jewess.
At the same time, he and his wife (!) view the hardships brought over the Jewish people as a judgment of God by which he seeks to lead his people to their Messiah come, the Jew Jesus of Nazareth. In the conversions of some to Christianity Klepper sees, with Paul in Rom. 11, a sign of God’s ongoing faithfulness to his people from of old. Meanwhile, he considers the majority of Jews standing side by side with the Nazis, their inimical twins, as haters of Christ. This makes their suffering “so terrible: the suffering of the Jews that is without a ‘for,’ an idea, a faith;” Jewish Christians at least have the Christian faith to die for. – Thus, Klepper’s attitude toward Judaism and Jews beyond his immediate family can be described as one of humane solidarity and Christian compassion and hope for the lost among God’s old people.
 Predestination and Suicide
His marriage to a member of the Jewish race finally also led Klepper to reevaluate his thinking on suicide. This he did in connection with a reception of Hermann’s teachings on predestination. It is to these last elements of Klepper’s theological profile that we now turn. In a tract written while still in Silesia in the late 1920s, Klepper rejected suicide as a sin against the Holy Spirit. One of the characteristics of K. Holl’s interpretation of Luther is that he, drawing on Calvin, goes beyond Luther in that he teaches a double predestination. Klepper first follows Holl in this doctrine; later he adopts Hermann’s view thereof.
As seen above, according to Klepper, King Friedrich Wilhelm I is frightened by the Reformed doctrine of predestination and finds the contemporary Lutheran version thereof – Klepper characterizes it as synergistic, no longer faithful to the heritage of Luther – more palatable since he, as monarch, is used to having everything under his control. In a 1933 diary entry, Klepper connects (double) predestination with the sin against the Holy Spirit – the “believer believes it as terrifying chief article of the faith, as pivot of reprobation and election” – and states that his early writing revolved around these two foci where he also sought “the solution for the mystery surrounding Judaism.” However, he also notes that by now, 1933, he had come to see that suicide was not the sin against the Holy Spirit. He writes, apparently alluding to 1 Corinthians 6:12: “My view of suicide has changed quickly. All is permitted man, all good, all evil, because the account between God and the believer is settled. How could I make suicide an exception?”
Hermann – in an entry into his Wissenschaftliches Tagebuch (Scholarly Diary), probably from December 1924, that is, while Klepper was studying with him at Breslau – takes an approach to predestination that is markedly different from Holl’s. For he, rejecting any eternal decrees, views electing as one with revealing: God pre-destines, elects, in time, by revealing himself. After rejecting the idea of an annihilation of the damned, he “solves” the problem of reprobation by transforming it into a temporal one too: all who have been in contact with God’s revelation in Christ will finally be saved, even those who will spend some time in hell due to their disobedience in time. For him, therefore, divine monergism goes hand in hand with the ultimate irresistibility of grace. This temporal understanding of predestination is, according to Hermann, also Luther’s view. This position stops short of gross forms of universalism because it remains tied to God’s revelation in the gospel.
It is obvious how this teaching not only resonates with Hermann’s broadly based ecclesiology of the Volkskirche, i.e., a church in close contact with a nation where a member might have no actual contact with the church anymore after baptism or confirmation. These ideas also contain a good measure of “comfort” for a suicidal Christian: no sin, not even my suicide will ultimately be able to separate me from God and his electing revelation in Christ (even if I had to spend some time in hell). It seems that Klepper had made this connection by 1933, as seen above. A diary entry from March 1936 is even clearer, but also hints at Klepper’s struggles with the teaching of the bible. He – actually, his accusator cor, his accusing heart pointing to the Deus defensor, the defending God, the “ground” for Christian joy – formulates this “mere hypothesis:”
Lost [after the fall] was the freedom to return to God; now he must come to get us. When will he get all? He cannot lose anything he created, can he? He reserves the hour for himself – but can he let it pass? How can there be eternal damnation? How can there be atonement beyond the death of the One? Should not the death of this One mean life for all? Predestination: for the sake of the “opposition” God gives in this life faith to some – those who inherit the promises to Israel; however, such predestination only extends as far as this life on earth goes and does not yet say anything about the eternal damnation of the others. Scripture, however, does speak of it. I cannot believe it yet. I cannot think of a greater atonement than the one that has taken place. This is all about what is to be believed. And faith has steps. It has begun; it goes on. For me, it is still man and God; and the angels and devils are far away.
Even if one concedes that Klepper here is not advocating crass universalism, one can understand these lines quite well against the backdrop of Hermann’s idea of ultimate salvation for all who, at one point in their lives, have come into contact with God’s electing revelation in Christ, though they might have died in unbelief. Commenting on Isaiah 38:17, Klepper writes in his diary on 5 / 6 September 1942: “This, this is the salvation God promised – promised, to be sure, also beyond suicide.” It is noteworthy, though, that Klepper, at least in March 1936, views this kind of universalism as a product of man’s accusing heart. One could therefore call it a self-made solution to the problem of suicide offered by reason and the law Klepper knew to be in contradiction to Scripture. Later that year, however, he jubilantly records an insight into the meaning of Christ’s resurrection after his death on the cross which he now viewed as “God’s – suicide,” while he wrote about a year earlier: “in longing for death there is something that runs counter to Good Friday.”
It appears that Klepper’s appropriation of Hermann’s theology of predestination made it possible for Klepper to sin in view of forgiveness. Klepper’s diary bears witness, not only to the increasing pressure from his hostile environment, but also to the inner struggles Klepper and his wife undergo in view of their planned suicide. On the one hand, they ponder the classical arguments against suicide: it is rebellion against God, a denial of trust in God; it is weightier than murder; it does a disservice to the Christian witness to the gospel and sets a bad example. “But,” as Klepper concludes the summary of a discussion with his wife on 11 January 1942, “it is a sin no different from all other sin. It too cannot separate us from God.” On the other hand, Klepper forbids himself to speak in the church as long as his suicidal thoughts rage in his heart, as he notes on 30 January 1942: “I also believe that my sequestration is not yet ended by God: in no way, so long as the decision to commit suicide is not revoked. How should I work under these circumstances – in the church?!”
On 22 March 1942, his 39th birthday, Klepper notes that his wife had all but abandoned the thought of committing suicide and adds that his daughter was also quite optimistic yet; at the same time, he admits that he, unlike his wife and daughter, has not yet received from God the ability to resign himself “to the most terrible possibilities of life.” While Klepper is plagued by the realization that his hesitation in 1939 probably would cost his second step-daughter her life and wrestles with deriving comfort from death, he is shaken by the fear that he would survive his wife and daughter, which was a realistic fear, given the threat of state-mandated divorces for mixed marriages that Klepper thought was imminent at the end of 1942.
On 8 December, he, reflecting on the appointed “watchword” from 1 Kings 2:2-3, wonders whether this word can still reach him in the “abyss” that opens before him – the abyss being that by now not even the Reich’s secretary of the interior has the power to facilitate his step-daughter’s emigration from Germany; that soon he might be faced with mandatory divorce which would end his wife’s relatively privileged position in a mixed marriage. If Renate’s emigration fails, she wishes to die with the parents; if it succeeds, she wants to remain alive “in all her sadness.” Klepper decides for himself that if only his wife and daughter were safe, e.g., in Sweden, he could endure everything God sends. Yet when contemplating the now very real possibility of their deportation into a German concentration camp, he also confides to his diary his bargaining with God and his being defeated by Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God:”
God knows that I cannot endure it to let Hanni and the child go into this cruelest and most brutal of all deportations. He knows that I cannot promise this to him, as Luther was able to do: “Should they take body, good, honor, child and wife, let it all go –.” Body, good, honor – yes! Yet God also know that I want to accept everything from him in trial and judgment, if only I know Hanni and the child to be somewhat protected. … If Hanni and the child died, God knows that nothing in me would resist his will. But not this.
On the following day, 9 December 1942, Klepper writes down the results of a meeting with A. Eichmann of the SS who is now to decide whether Renate may leave Germany after Sweden has surprisingly opened its borders. Eichmann stated that he, while he has not agreed, thinks the “matter will work out.” Klepper, “now in the world of my dreams,” also relates that Eichmann flat-out denied a joint emigration of Johanna and Renate; but he is still hopeful (he quotes Ps. 126:1!), while he also has his sister, Hilde, come to finalize their last will and testament. The decisive meeting with Eichmann is scheduled for the next afternoon.
This meeting does not go as hoped. Therefore the last words of his diary, on 10 December 1942, read: “We now die – alas, this too is in God’s hands – Tonight we go together into death. Over us stands in the last hours the image of the Blessing Christ, who struggles for us. In his sight, our life ends.” In fact, with the sculpture of the Blessing Christ standing on the kitchen table, the three were found the next day lying on blankets on the kitchen floor, packages of sleeping pills next to them, gas filling the room.
 Klepper’s Spiritual Poems: Impressions from the Kyrie
Klepper’s hymn collection, Kyrie, was published for the first time in September 1938. It includes pieces published here for the first time, but also poems included elsewhere, e.g., in a 1935 collection, Geistliche Lieder (Spiritual Songs), edited by his friend, K. Ihlenfeld. At the beginning of 1939, he hears that it is well received. In a typically humble manner, he comments: “what is incomprehensible to me has happened; the ‘Kyrie’ has entered the homes.” Time and again, Klepper will register with deep gratitude and humility that he was permitted to write hymns that were thankfully received by the church and thus became genuine church hymns. This is all the more understandable since even his close associates at times proved to be ambivalent toward Klepper’s poetic output. – In the last part of this paper, we will now take a brief look at this collection to uncover some of what Klepper has to offer to us today. As will be seen, the early popularity of this collection is by no means surprising or undeserved. Often left dissatisfied by empty sermons (and the neglect of the hymnal he so much appreciated), Klepper here shares with the church the fruit of his own fearful and prayerful meditation of God’s word.
The Kyrie collection has basically three parts: The first contains five poems for the three prayer times of the day, morning, noon, and evening. The second is dedicated to the main feasts of the church year. The third is dedicated to the individual life of the Christian – our life as a whole in God’s creation and providence (on Exodus 3:2-3); birth; baptism (John 12:28a; 17:11b); confirmation (1 Timothy 6:12); marriage; and the Christian man’s lifelong spiritual warfare of prayer (1 Timothy 2:8).
 Hymns for the Day
Klepper opens his collection with his 1939 poem “Nun bricht des Tages Glanz hervor” (Now the day’s splendor breaks forth), a paraphrasing translation of Ambrose’s famous morning hymn, Iam lucis ortus sidere, thereby visibly anchoring the prefacing Luther quote referencing the hymns of Ambrose in the collection itself. The second morning hymn, “Er weckt mich alle Morgen” (He wakes me every morning), is based on Isaiah 50:4-5, 7-8, and offers a fine meditation on the Christian’s resignation to God’s providence and guidance, the existential sufficiency of God’s word, which is all connected to God’s daily justification of the sinner. These are all important themes in Klepper’s personal struggles. He wrote this hymn on 12 April 1938.
The noon-time-hymn, “Der Tag ist seiner Höhe nah” (The day is close to its height), is a meditation on Deuteronomy 28:1-6, 8, 12, that calls the singer to pause in the restlessness of the day and, on occasion of the noontime meal, look up in prayer and thanksgiving to Him who showers upon the singer blessing after blessing, for this temporal life and for the eternal life of the world to come. Klepper wrote it as a Pentecost-gift for his wife.
The first evening hymn, “Ich liege, Herr, in deiner Hut” (I lie, O Lord, within your care, see Lutheran Service Book 885), is based on Psalm 4:8 and is a testimony of Christian resignation to the Lord’s care at the end of the day that is also reflected in Luther’s evening prayer: there is no need for fear and worries since the Lord’s mighty arm protects and guides us by day and night. The second evening hymn, “In jeder Nacht, die mich bedroht” (In every night that threatens me), Klepper, under Jeremiah 15:16, nicely juxtaposes the accusator cor and the Deus defensor, the accusing heart and the God who comes to the believer in his word of promise to dispel all threat, doubt, worry, and sin. He wrote this hymn in 1939. Truly, in the arms of this God one can rest in peace! Given the countless dark nights Klepper endured during his life, this is another comforting hymn of faith written against oppressive experience.
 Hymns for the Church Year
 On the Church Year as a Whole
The church-year section of Kyrie is opened by a hymn on the church year as a whole, “Du bist als Stern uns aufgegangen” (You arose for us as a star), the individual stanzas setting forth the main Christological core of each season. The last stanza ties all this together and offers the star of Advent, the manger of Christmas, the cross of Lent, the rock of Easter, the bread and wine and cloud of Ascension, the dove of Pentecost as avenues that lead the believer deeper into Christ’s word. Interestingly, the bread and wine of communion are here placed on the same level as star, manger, rock, and cloud. While these are nice thoughts, somewhat reminiscent of Luther’s reflections on the sacramental nature of the rainbow and other items, they do fall short of the Small Catechism’s simple teaching on the sacrament of the altar. In fact, the three other references to the Lord’s Supper in this collection – as well as those in his diary – in the last analysis do not go beyond what is stated in this hymn. Does Klepper, the Lutheran writer, share the rejection of the specifically Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper with Friedrich Wilhelm I, the Calvinist king? Given Klepper’s unquestioning adherence to the (Prussian) church of the union, given also R. Hermann’s similar position, this does not seem unlikely. This is all the more unfortunate because Klepper, in late 1935, put together a little booklet on Claus Harms (1778-1855), the Lutheran father of the 19th century who had vehemently protested against rationalism and the union church, and commented on his famous 1817 Ninety-Five Theses: “There is very much in his Theses.”
Six Christmas hymns follow. This large number bears witness to the fact that Christmas for Klepper and his family was a highly important holiday with its own set of preparatory Advent rituals. As seen, these preparations are kept up even in 1942. The first hymn of four stanzas, written in 1940, “Wer warst Du, Herr, vor dieser Nacht” (Who were you, Lord, before this night), juxtaposes – under Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 John 3:2 – the Lord and the I of the singer before and after Christmas: the Son is first God by himself and then God with the sinner in his night; the sinner is first by himself in darkness and then with God as his child. This is Luther’s joyful exchange beautifully expressed. The second hymn, “Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen” (The night will soon be ending), under Romans 13:11-12, praises the birth of Christ in Bethlehem as eschatological event: now that Christ has come, the final dispersal of this world’s night is at hand. This gives comfort to those who still cry under dark suffering and guilt since their cross is now illumined by the light of the Morning Star. Those who trust in Christ’s atonement in this life will be saved out of God’s coming judgment. The rich original melody for “The Night Will Soon Be Ending,” drawing on historic church modes (with Klepper’s implicit approval), was written in 1939 by a young composer by the name of Johannes Petzold and is the standard melody in German hymnals. It reflects well the seriousness of the times.
The third piece, “Sieh nicht an, was du selber bist” (Do not look to what you are yourself), gives voice to a basic rediscovery of Luther, the alien righteousness of the believer that is found, not in self-reflective navel-gazing, but in looking to Christ himself. Klepper prefaces this 1937 hymn with Zechariah 9:9 and a quote from a 1528 Christmas sermon by Luther, the latter of which provided the first line for the hymn. The hymn itself, with clear allusions to 2 Timothy 2:13 and Isaiah 9:6, again offers a variation of the joyous-exchange motif and issues into a call not to lament but to praise God. The fourth hymn, “Du Kind, zu dieser heiligen Zeit” (O Child, at this holy time), effectively contrasts the joyfulness of the world during Christmas time with the judgment the Christ Child endured in the world’s stead to win this joy. His vicarious suffering causes, but also tempers, the Christians’ joy; first in heaven, after the resurrection to eternal life, will their joy be without bitterness. This hymn’s fitting biblical basis is Luke 2:7.
The fifth hymn, “Mein Gott, dein hohes Fest des Lichts” (My God, your high feast of light), biblically focused on the shepherds, Luke 2:8-11, expresses for whom Christmas is, and for whom it is not: it is for the fearful, the suffering, and the guilty – the cross appears over the manger. The world’s celebration of Christmas, on the other hand, is much too colorful and happy, a reflection of Klepper’s complaint about the busyness of the secularized Christmas season. It was written in 1936. The final, sixth Christmas hymn of the Kyrie collection, “Nun ruht doch alle Welt” (Yet now the entire world is at rest), was written during the war under Isaiah 14:7-8 which also provides the outline of the hymn. The peace and quiet joy that is in the world according to God’s word is contrasted with the experience of war and restlessness, fear and suffering: It is the light of God’s word that lets the singer see the Christ Child, the Light and Lord of the world (cf. Psalm 36:9!). Even the cypress trees (also known as Christmas trees!) rejoice at the counter-experiential message of the angels.
 The End of the Year
The next three hymns belong to the year-end category. The first hymn, “Ja, ich will euch tragen” (Yes, I will carry you), based on Isaiah 46:4; Deuteronomy 32:7, speaks the Lord’s sure promise to carry his people till they are old and grey on the last day of the year. This hymn grew right out of attending church, a sermon on Isaiah 46:4, and a Paul-Gerhardt hymn. The next piece, “Zuflucht ist bei dem alten Gott” (Refuge is with the ancient God), Deuteronomy 33:27, proclaims God’s unchanging faithfulness and mercy that not only answer the sorrow and fear in the world but also offer strength and rest to those fatigued by this world. The last year-end hymn, written in late 1937, “Der du die Zeit in Händen hast” (You who hold time in your hands), based on Psalm 102:24-27, again takes the change of time as an opportunity to proclaim God’s eternal steadfastness and Christ, the center of time: God’s grace makes rich those whom his wrath causes to perish.
 Lent / Holy Week
Moving to Lent, Klepper’s Maundy Thursday hymn, “Heut bin ich meines Heilands Gast” (Today, I am my Savior’s guest), under 1 Corinthians 11:26; Psalm 116:13, draws the singer into the events of the first Maunday Thursday. The Savior offers me bread, wine, and the Passover lamb; he washes my feet; the Lord of the world empties himself and serves me. The cup of the Lord’s Supper is given as a perpetual memorial for the cup of suffering and death the Lord drank for me. At the end, he will return to the joyous meal of his disciples; then even the tree of the cross will blossom.
Klepper’s Easter hymn, “Siehe, das ist Gottes Lamm” (Behold, this is the Lamb of God), based on Revelation 5:12-13 and not unlike Luther’s Easter hymn, sets out, not from the empty tomb, but from the Lamb that was slain by God’s wrath over our sin. The second stanza ties together Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection when he returns; the third verse brings together Christmas, Lent, and Easter, and looks forward to his return when his people will become his image. The last stanza, taking up the doxology of Revelation 5, exhorts the singers to praise God, to witness to God’s saving revelation, and to bow to the Prince of life.
The Ascension hymn in this collection, “Gott fährt mit Jauchzen auf” (God ascends with rejoicing), written in 1940, is based on Psalm 47:5-6, 9 and, in its first two stanzas joins in the jubilant cry of the psalm because in the exaltation of Christ is contained the exaltation of the believer. The third stanza ties together the Crucified and the Exalted who longs to save fallen sinners. His light shines in the darkness of the world: the heavens are opened for all the world.
Klepper’s 1938 Pentecost hymn, “Komm, heilige Taube” (Come, holy Dove), is drawn from Luke 3:22; Acts 2:2-4. The first stanza, however, reaches back to the dove bringing the olive leave to Noah (Genesis 8:11). This dove is called upon to proclaim that faith goes beyond all chasms. Thus, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, heaven and earth have become one. The next couple of stanzas then apply individual facets of the biblical account of Pentecost in an evangelical manner to the singers. The remaining three stanzas call upon the Spirit, the Comforter, to remain with God’s people as God’s assurance and sign of his nearness until he, the Spirit, will bring us home into the realm of the Father like an eagle.
 Reformation Day
The next major festival in the church’s year is Reformation Day. Klepper’s hymn for this occasion – “Singt Gott, lobsinget seinem Namen!” (Sing to God, praise his name) – is a meditation on Psalm 68 and praises God for giving his word. In fact, “in the word, God himself comes down to us,” as the first stanza declares! In his word, therefore, God not only finds those who are distant; in it, he is with his people to defend them like a wall of chariots, to bless them in the world, his chosen sanctuary. He has already established his kingdom over death and hell, even as his people is still embroiled in battle: “his word is life, activity, victory.” God has sent his word down to earth with a great host of evangelists, so that we might ascend to heaven when all earth’s strife is over.
 National Day of Repentance
The next festival in the German Protestant calendar is the Day of Repentance – which is traditionally observed on the last Wednesday before the Last Sunday of the church year – to which Klepper’s next poem is dedicated. It is a Christ-centered meditation on Daniel 9:5-6, 9, 18-19 in that here Klepper not only leads the singers into confessing their sin and calling upon God’s mercy, but also, in the middle stanza of this three-stanza piece, calls upon Christ as the Savior who disclosed God as the one who mercifully condescends and who saves the believers in judgment.
 The Last Sunday of the Church Year
The church-year section of the Kyrie collection concludes with two poems on the Last Sunday of the church year, in Protestant Germany traditionally (since 1816 in Prussia) observed and known as “Sunday of the Dead.” Klepper’s first piece, “Mein Gott, ich will von hinnen gehen” (My God, I want to go away from here), is prefaced by verses from Revelation 21 and 22, describing God’s glory illumining the heavenly Jerusalem. The stanzas express the believer’s longing to be in that heavenly city, while he is grateful for God’s earthly gifts and mindful of God’s temporal judgments. Yet, compared to God’s heavenly city founded on God’s promise and its springs of living water, the cities of earth are pale shadows thereof as are earth’s lovely wells. God’s city is built out of durable precious stones; in fact, God’s Hütte (Revelation 21:3: σκηνη,) with man is built out of the tree of life: God’s city coming down from heaven afar is man’s eternal “city of salvation.” Sun and moon will cease, but God’s glory will shine in it forevermore. Man’s goal was there before he began his life; God’s word is sure. We did not seek him; God is the one who seeks and calls home those who cursed him. – The second and last hymn for the “Sunday of the Dead,” “Nun sich das Herz von allem löste” (Now that the heart loosed itself from everything), written under Psalm 109:21, in its three stanzas is a Trinitarian prayer to God: as the heart loosed itself from all things, come now, Comforter, Holy Spirit, flowing from God’s heart. As the heart resigns itself to all that is burdensome, come now, Savior, who mildly binds us up, heals the wounds, carries us and takes care of us. As the heart has lifted itself up to you and knows itself only to be held by you, stay with us, Father, and our lament will turn into praise. Praise be to you!
Jochen Klepper is not a writer and theologian easily categorized. He is a man who bears the heavy burdens of his physical and theological existence – eventually he breaks down under them. In its evangelical profundity, but also in its human weakness, his poetic and literary oeuvre bears witness to this fact. His diary affords the careful reader deep insights into the heart and mind of Klepper who proves to be a sensitive reader of God’s word, world, and church in the darkness of Germany during Hitler’s pervasive dictatorship. Out of his often afflicted, but always prayerful meditation of all three, Jochen Klepper wrote some of the most evangelical poetry of the 20th century. While “The night will soon be ending” is perhaps the first of his poems translated and included in an English-language hymnal, it is hoped that it will not remain the only one; there is many a treasure to be discovered in Klepper’s hymns for the joy and edification of the church in English-speaking lands.
- ↑ Cf. R. R. Thalmann, “Jochen Klepper,” Gestalten der Kirchengeschichte, ed. M. Greschat (Stuttgart, Berlin, Köln: Kohlhammer, 1983), 10.2:257-269, and, for a more detailed account, R. Thalmann, Jochen Klepper: Ein Leben zwischen Idyllen und Katastrophen (München: Kaiser, 1977). It has been correctly observed that Thalmann, while not without sympathy for Klepper, viewed him incorrectly within a (theological) tradition of blind obedience to political authorities, cf., e.g., M. J. Wecht, Jochen Klepper: Ein christlicher Schriftsteller im jüdischen Schicksal (Düsseldorf, Görlitz: Archiv der Ev. Kirche im Rheinland, 1998), 353. Wecht himself offers a more sympathetic and theologically knowledgeable account of Klepper’s life.
- ↑ Cf. H. Assel, “Einführung,” Der du die Zeit in Händen hast: Briefwechsel zwischen Rudolf Hermann und Jochen Klepper 1925 – 1942, ed. H. Assel with A. Wiebel (München: Kaiser, 1992), 10-13, as well as Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 27ff. and 349ff.
- ↑ Cf. F. W. Bautz, “Hermann, Rudolf,” Biographisches-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Hamm: Bautz, 1990), 2:749f. and H. Assel, Der andere Aufbruch: Die Lutherrenaissance – Ursprünge, Aporien und Wege: Karl Holl, Emanuel Hirsch, Rudolf Hermann (1910-1935) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994), esp. 305ff. and 482ff. on Hermann’s path from Schleiermacher’s (and Holl’s) a-verbal notion of religious experience to a verbal understanding thereof.
- ↑ Cf. esp. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 334-349.
- ↑ Unter dem Schatten deiner Flügel: Aus den Tagebüchern der Jahre 1932 – 1942, ed. H. Klepper (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1955), Diary 15 March 1936: “Whatever can be said against such notes as ‘auto-psychotherapy’ – they have often helped and admonished not to forget any address by God, any station of his guidance according to all its circumstances.” It is noteworthy that Klepper’s understanding of his diary changes in about 1935. First, it was a writer’s “filter of subjectivity,” indispensable for understanding his work (cf. Diary 23 June 1933; 26 January 1935), in which he himself chronicled a narration – his own life – written by an other (cf. Diary 6 July 1933); later, when the Kleppers moved into their new house, it became the “account of the life of the house” which had become “Jeremiah’s field” for him (cf. Jeremiah 32:7-15, 24-27, 37-44 with Diary 19, 28/29 September 1935).
- ↑ Klepper’s wife was baptized on 18 December 1938 upon which a brief church wedding ensued. Renate’s baptism followed on 9 June 1940. The second baptism Klepper registers gratefully in his diary as “fulfillment of patient waiting,” as what brings his step-daughter’s name (renata – the one born again) to its true meaning; it is clear that also his wife’s baptism was ardently desired by him, cf. the pertinent entries in his diary. For his wife see also the entries for 14 October 1935, 17, 23, and 24 August 1938, for his daughter 14 March, 11 and 16 April 1940. Apparently Klepper’s pastor, Max Kurzreiter, hesitated at first (cf. 29 August and 16 October 1938), but he finally talks to Johanna and Klepper’s longings are fulfilled (cf. 27 November and 1 December 1938). And their baptisms led him to remember his own with increasing thankfulness (see 26 April 1939, 1940, and 1942). First communion followed on 25 December 1938 and on 11 August 1940, respectively. Apparently, the reason for their baptisms was at first rather opportunistic, cf. Diary 14 March 1933.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 31 March 1938; on 2 July 1938 he notes, disappointed, that the deposed, exiled emperor is more interested in the king’s attitude toward power than in his ability to resign himself to God’s will. The attitude of the Nazis toward the imperial family (and the Prussian heritage in general) is, from Klepper’s vantage point, ambivalent at best, cf. Diary 29 June 1938, which is why, despite the willingness of the emperor’s second wife, Princess Hermine, to help Klepper’s Jewish family, nothing could be done here, cf. Diary 8 and 9 December 1938. On occasion of the death of a grandson of the emperor, who had fallen as an officer in Belgium, Klepper comments in his Diary that his death is like atonement for the emperor’s flight from Germany in November 1918 (27 May 1940). To the monarchists he says on the occasion of the young prince’s funeral on 29 May (this day also represented an important jubilee for the Prussian monarchy): “The idea of the monarchy has to be buried. The help of this simile is no longer granted to us. Only its value as simile, which God upheld, had made me into a monarchist.”
- ↑ It is now available in Jochen Klepper, Ziel der Zeit: Die gesammelten Gedichte, 7th ed. (Bielefeld: Luther-Verlag, 2003), 43-95; Klepper prefaces this collection with the following remarkable Luther-quote (AE 15:274): “…it is essential that the congregation of God, or God’s people, accept and ratify a word or a song … St. Ambrose composed many hymns of the church. They are called church hymns because the church accepted them and sings them just as though the church had written them and as though they were the church’s songs.”
- ↑ This renewal drew heavily though not slavishly on Heinrich Schütz. – The music of the church music renewal of the 1920s and 1930s in Germany has come under criticism after 1945. Some accuse it of naïve historicism because it did not follow the lead of the Vienna School of music (A. Schönberg, A. Berg, A. Webern) that, with the anti-hierarchical impetus of its “twelve-tone” method, seemed more akin to music in a democracy (Weimar Republic!). Coupled with this is the accusation that – in the veins of “national” Lutheranism – leading representatives were too closely aligned with National Socialism. Ch. Reich, “Musik in der Kirche: Perspektiven der Erneuerung zwischen 1920 und 1960,” Kirchenmusik im Nationalsozialismus: Zehn Vorträge, ed. D. Schuberth (Berlin, Kassel: Merseburger, 1995), 123-125, points to the basic “theological” difference between Schönberg and, e.g., Hugo Distler (see note 94 below) that consists in the word-centeredness of the latter, which, not surprisingly, also marks the difference between the churchly forms of the music renewal after WWI and its secular forms – the latter were easily absorbed by National Socialism. Klepper, as will be demonstrated below, fits right into this complicated theological situation of a national Lutheran opposition to Hitler. Perhaps, if not Twelve-tone Music’s egalitarian character but its “dialectic” character – that is, its opposition to “nature” and traditional “culture” – is emphasized, one could find a quite close affinity of Barthianism to Schönberg’s music. This, given the dominance of Barthianism after WWII, certainly also prevented a sober post-WWII evaluation of church music in the 1930s and 1940s. Cf. G. Krieg, “Die Orientierung der Kirchenmusik in Gedankenwelt und Politik des 20. Jahrhunderts,” ibid., 131-141, who attempts a more objective critique of the music of the time
- ↑ Cf. Diary 13 May 1940 and 5 June 1940.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 14 October 1935: “… I restrained myself [from joining the Brotherhood] because every particular association in the church, willed by men, is so alien to me …,” furthermore 17 March 1937 and 11 January 1938. Stählin (1883-1975), served as pastor in Bavaria and, in 1923, co-founded the Berneuchen Circle whose purpose was liturgical renewal; in 1926, after about nine years in Nuremberg, he was called to be a professor of practical theology at Münster University; in 1931, he founded the Evangelical Brotherhood of St. Michael, another Evangelical renewal movement. A member of the Confessing Church between 1934 and 1941, Stählin served as Lutheran bishop of Oldenburg 1945 – 1952, cf. U. Schwab, “Stählin, Wilhelm,” Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (T. Bautz: Herzberg 1995), 10:1115-1120. Klepper, during a visit in Nuremberg, attends a service at Stählin’s former congregation, St. Lawrence, and is “very satisfied” “in particular also by the liturgy” (Diary 26 October 1942).
- ↑ Cf. K. Pagel, “Jochen Klepper,” in Jochen Klepper, Die Flucht der Katharina von Bora, ed. Karl Pagel (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn, 1983), 8f. The title, “eternal house,” goes back to a (fictional) Easter sermon by Gabriel Zwilling – once an associate of Carlstadt in the 1521/22 iconoclasm at Wittenberg, but since 1523 Lutheran preacher in Torgau (with Luther’s commendation); in 1537 he signed the Smalcald Articles (cf. D. Metz, “Zwilling (Didymus), Gabriel,” Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Herzberg: Bautz, 1998), 14:672-674) – who compared the pope’s building of St. Peter’s in Rome to Luther’s work of establishing a new house of God on earth on God’s word. According to Klepper, when the recently escaped nun, Katharina von Bora, heard this reference to the “eternal house that was founded at Wittenberg on God’s word,” she “quickly and joyfully lifted her head” (Flucht der Katharina von Bora, 122). E. D. Araki, Jochen Klepper – Aufbruch zum ewigen Haus: Eine Motivstudie zu seinen Tagebüchern (Frankfurt: P. Lang, 1993), offers an excellent study of the house-motif in Klepper’s diaries in the context of Lutheran theology.
- ↑ Cf. the comments in the Diary (16 October 1942), during a visit to Würzburg, that speak of the slowness of the progress and the centrality of the project – the latter causing the former to be painful: “I must know a city by its houses. I am too much committed to the house. This is also why it is so terrible that the ‘Eternal House’ comes about in such a dragging and painful way. Is it still coming about? Does God give my work back to me and me back to my work? Can this trip mean something in this regard? And can anything still gain a meaning for me that does not enter into this question?” Remarkably, Klepper calls his wife and daughter “the great and small Bore,” Diary 5 May 1942.
- ↑ Cf. the Diary 1 September and 7 December 1942. The fact that Klepper’s step-daughter, Brigitte, names her first child Katharina only offers brief joy and relief (Diary 5, 9 December 1942).
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 275f. Klepper was with the 76th Berlin-Brandenburg Infantry Division, which perished in the encirclement of Stalingrad (today’s Volgograd) in January 1943 and had apparently sustained major losses during the spring of 1942 (cf. Diary 23 May 1942). Klepper, based on general news and letters by former comrades, notes in his Diary on 13 September, 20 October, and on 3, 5, 22 November 1942 that his former unit is fighting an increasingly hopeless battle in Stalingrad and that his comrades are living in foxholes. While Klepper attempts to rejoin the army as late as May 1942 (see Diary 19, 27 May 1942), he, toward the end of his life, is disillusioned about his time as soldier (see Diary 1 December 1942). However, upset about the lack of public prayers for captured German soldiers (and (baptized) Jews!) in a self-absorbed church (“every arrested pastor is prayed for by name”), Klepper successfully complains about this (Diary 19 July 1942; 1, 30 August 1942; and 13 September 1942; cf. the remarks from 22 July 1942).
- ↑ Cf. Diary 29 April 1939, a couple of weeks before Brigitte’s move to England: “Emigrantenpsychose.” In the aftermath of a Hitler-speech on 28 April that only marginally touched on the “struggle against Judaism,” Klepper speaks of the Jews’ “sickly fear” that his step-daughter, Renate, also views as exaggerated. On 19 May 1940, his wife remarks how “bearable” the “terrible laws” for mixed marriages are after all due to contradictory exceptions.
- ↑ On 18 August 1942 Klepper writes about the “cold, organized, contrived brutality, developed in the program of one decade. Gradually, it totally destroys a man.”
- ↑ Cf. Thalmann, Jochen Klepper, 377-380, offers the recollections of Klepper’s sister, Hilde, of her last visit; Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 314-317, offers the eerie account of the last couple of days from the perspective of a neighbor of the Klepper family. Araki, Jochen Klepper, 77f., traces Klepper’s suicidal thoughts back to 1933; in earlier years, he had condemned suicide, unless committed in sufficiently great fear, as “sin against the Holy Spirit,” cf. Thalmann, Jochen Klepper, 41f., 47.
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 26-32, where he offers an overview of the classes Klepper took.
- ↑ Klepper left after the winter semester 1922/23. Werner Elert became professor in Erlangen in the following semester; Paul Althaus joined the faculty in the winter semester 1925/26, Hermann Sasse in 1933, cf. K. Beyschlag, Die Erlanger Theologie (Erlangen: Martin-Luther-Verlag, 1993), 146, 151, 180.
- ↑ Cf. on the Luther Renaissance’s notion of experience Assel, Aufbruch, 34-40. On the neo-Erlangen notion of experience, formulated by Elert and Althaus based on the doctrine of general revelation, see Beyschlag, Erlanger Theologie, 150 (emph. in orig.): “the natural being of man is integrated into the theological method as concrete experiential foundation.” A concrete example, taken from an Althaus presentation in 1932, shows that Althaus saw, e.g., the political realm as a simile of the religious realm, “experience” being one of the connecting factors, cf. Ch. Weiling, Die “Christlich-deutsche Bewegung:” Eine Studie zum konservativen Protestantismus in der Weimarer Republik (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), 241-243. – However, one needs to remember that the notion of “experience” was also used, in the post-WWI years, to describe the renewed enthusiasm among German youth for the German nation as nation; Hitler knew how to use and increase this national enthusiasm to “religious” levels, cf. Weiling, Bewegung, 134f., on the “conversion” of the evangelist F. Wieneke to National Socialism based on Hitler’s ability “to lead … the people again to the lively experience in communion with the Creator and Redeemer;” see also K. Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich, slightly enhanced ed. (Frankfurt/M., Berlin: Ullstein, 1986), 1:124-150.
- ↑ Cf. M. Wolfes, “Bornhausen, Karl Eduard,” Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Herzberg: Bautz, 1999), 15:264-286: Under the impression of his near-death experience in 1915 as a soldier in WWI and his ensuing POW time in France and Switzerland, Bornhausen changed his theological position from that of a liberal student of E. Troeltsch with contacts to the US to a deeply nationalist stance, virtually identifying being German and being (non-denominationally) Christian; in 1932, he joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) and was active in academic organizations of the party. He, seeking a synthesis of German Idealism and Christianity as was typical in conservative Protestant circles at the time (cf. Weiling, Bewegung, 104 n. 484), taught at Breslau between 1920 and 1934; between 1927 and 1930 he published a Trinitarian dogmatics textbook in three volumes which, interestingly dedicated to Schleiermacher and following ideas of Troeltsch, started with the Second Article and, after treating the Third, concluded with the First. While in Breslau, Klepper attended all of Bornhausen’s lectures that seem to have been earlier forms of these volumes. In 1934, Bornhausen, who since the early 1930s had attempted to synthesize pre-Christian Germanic religion and Christianity (Jesus understood as wholly dedicated to the restoration of his people), succeeded exiled P. Tillich in Frankfurt; after a few years there, he was put on administrative leave and retirement.
- ↑ Erich was the son of the famous historian of dogma, Reinhold Seeberg. He taught at Breslau between 1924 and 1926/27. Unlike Karl Holl and his followers, he did not see the justification experience at the center of Luther’s theology but the paradoxes that came along with the incarnation of Christ. Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of mysticism for the theology of Luther (Seeberg publishes a book on G. Arnold and heads up the publication of the works of Meister Eckhart in 1936ff.) and believed that the workings of the hidden God in history can be perceived by faith. Due to his emphasis on the incarnation of Christ, he appreciates Luther’s teachings on the sacraments, in distinction from Zwingli, as “concrete idea of the Spirit.” At the same time, he views “Protestantism” (since the 19th century’s merger of the various expressions thereof) as a typical German form of religion. Seeberg was a member of the NSDAP and close to the Deutsche Christen. Cf. K.-G. Wesseling, “Seeberg, Erich,” Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Herzberg: Bautz, 1995), 9:1297-1304 and R. Herrmann’s 1940 review of Seeberg’s book on Luther’s theology, “Grundzüge der Theologie Luthers: Amica Exegesis zu Erich Seebergs gleichnamigem Buch,” in R. H., Gesammelte Studien zur Theologie Luthers und der Reformation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960), 195-205.
- ↑ Klepper’s first radio piece ever (1927) was on Francke, cf. Diary 12 June 1933.
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 39, 46f.
- ↑ Cf., e.g., Diary 26 October 1939 and 22 October 1941.
- ↑ Cf. H. Sasse, Das Volk nach der Lehre der evangelischen Kirche (München: Kaiser, 1934), 13; Scholder, Kirchen, 1:103-106, 113, 139. The alternative to Luther was seen in a mystical “German piety” which featured prominently Meister Eckhart, Jacob Böhme, and Sebastian Franck, cf. the critical remarks by P. Althaus, “Kirche und Volkstum,” P. A., Evangelium und Leben: Gesammelte Vorträge (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1927), 122, where he asks: “Is Sebastian Franck really more German than Martin Luther?”
- ↑ Cf. Scholder, Kirchen, 1:695-698. Disappointing the hopes of some of his followers, Hitler was not interested in creating a “German” religion, with or without Luther (the Austrian Hitler had grown up Roman Catholic) because he recognized that this would antagonize the existing churches; in Hitler’s view, the revival of the German nation would have to be a political one at first, cf. ibid., 1:110ff., esp. 111, 117, 119. Accordingly, the solution of the “Jewish problem,” which Hitler viewed in clearly racial, not religious, terms, was to be a political, legal one also, cf. ibid., 1:100f. On 9 April 1939 (Easter Sunday), Klepper perceptively writes in his diary: “Just today a grand declaration of leaders of the church which wants to make Protestantism into Hitler’s servant and Luther into Hitler’s precursor.”
- ↑ Cf. the numerous essays from the early 1930s by Hermann that are gathered in R. H., Theologische Fragen nach der Kirche, ed. G. Krause (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977). For Althaus see the 1927 essay quoted above in which he, sharing a notion of nation built on a biological foundation, characteristically views the national enthusiasm positively in light of general revelation, but nonetheless makes important points critical of the national movement (cf. Scholder, Kirchen, 1:140-142). Sasse wrote several critical pieces discussing the relation between church, state, and nation, cf. only his tract Das Volk, 23ff., where he develops a non-metaphysical, historically-contingent, and therefore anti-idealistic notion of Volk (nation). On Sasse during the 1930s and 40s, see also J. R. Wilch, “Hermann Sasse and Third Reich Threats to the Church,” in Hermann Sasse: A Man for Our Times?, ed. J. R. Stephenson, Th. M. Winger (St. Louis: CPH, 1998), 65-105.
- ↑ E.g., Diary 16 April 1940, gladly commenting on Renate’s decision to be baptized with “I believe that I cannot believe but …”
- ↑ Cf., e.g., Sasse, Kirchenregiment und weltliche Obrigkeit nach lutherischer Lehre (München: Kaiser, 1935), 11f., where he, while honoring Luther and other Lutherans as important “commentaries,” points to the Lutheran church’s doctrine laid down in the confessions as the starting point. He thus operates on a normative tripod, so to speak: Scripture, confessions, Luther.
- ↑ Cf., e.g., his essay “Zum evangelischen Begriff von der Kirche,” R. H. Gesammelte Studien, 342-366, esp. 354, where he characterizes the “evangelical church” as a “confessional church” because it “confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ and places the bible at the center.” It furthermore “confesses itself as Christian church by means of the Apostles’ Creed and the confessions of the early church, and as evangelical church in the Reformation confessions” (emph. added). His reservations over against Barmen 1934 are therefore different than those articulated by, e.g., H. Sasse, “Das Bekenntnis der lutherischen Kirche und die Barmer Theologische Erklärung,” in In Statu Confessionis: Gesammelte Aufsätze von Hermann Sasse, ed. F. W. Hopf (Berlin, Hamburg: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1966), 281, 283-285, where he, among other things, criticizes the theologically opaque terms “evangelical” and “reformation,” cf. the two statements of the Greifswald faculty on the status of Barmen in the emerging Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) authored by Hermann in 1947 and 1948 in R. H., Theologische Fragen, 239-242, 246-249, where he cautions against making Barmen “binding” and instead wants to base the EKD on the “confessions from the time of the Reformation” (248). One wonders with Sasse: all of them – Lutheran, Calvinist, Zwinglian?
- ↑ “Zur theologischen Würdigung der Augustana,” R. H., Gesammelte Studien, 89-126, esp. 89, 123f., 126. On Hermann’s doctrine of communion cf. Assel, Aufbruch, 448-452: Hermann upheld Luther’s est, but generalized it toward understanding the Lord’s Supper “as preeminent place of the presence of the Creator … in creation” (449). This is nice and ecumenically open, but still falls short of what Luther set forth in the Small Catechism and elsewhere.
- ↑ Cf. K. Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich (München; Propyläen, 2000), 2:226f.
- ↑ “Zur Frage nach der Kirchengemeinschaft,” in D. B., Gesammelte Schriften, ed. E. Bethge (Munich: Kaiser, 1959), 2:238. In this essay, Bonhoeffer rightly takes AC VII as ecclesiological criterion to distinguish between the true church Christians are to join and the false churches Christians are called to leave behind (217f.). For Lutherans, this cannot be a problematic stance. What is problematic, though, is that Bonhoeffer as well as many in the Confessing Church did not sufficiently address this group’s unionism, that is, its own exclusion as a false church according to AC VII (which Bonhoeffer recognizes, at least “in view of the letter of the Lutheran confessions,” 233!). The conflict with the German Christians made the historic differences between Lutheran and Reformed churches appear to him and many others like mere “school differences.” Thus, Bonhoeffer, while occasionally hinting at the older controversies (e.g., 224), ultimately holds to a fluctuating, presentist notion of confession and doctrine (226f.) by which he tries to steer between the Scylla of “orthodoxy” and the Charybdis of lacking any confession (235): confessing today instead of the confessions of the past.
- ↑ Cf. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 169-177.
- ↑ As noted above, R. Hermann at first, that is, between 1933 and 1935, participated in the activities of the Confessing Church aimed at containing the attempts to introduce the “Führer” (leader) principle in the church from top down, cf. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 165-167. This made the early Confessing Church attractive also to Klepper.
- ↑ Cf. esp. Diary 17 February 1940 (emph. added), where he, commenting on a letter by General Superintendent O. Dibelius, a leader of the Confessing Church, states that it contained “so much that divides regarding the Confessing Church. They are anything but the ‘quiet ones in the land,’ the ‘primitive Christian congregation.’ They do not know at all what inescapable suffering means that is necessary because it is from God. They have lost their eye for nation and congregation. They erect walls, and over all their combative confessing the proclamation of the message of love is absent. This church will never teach me to sing.” See also the entry on 25 August of the same year on a sermon by H. Gollwitzer, one of the leaders of the Confessing Church: “the ‘magical power’ [of the sermon] seems to emanate again from a couple of political sentences.” Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 321-325 on the life-long importance of the Moravians for Klepper and Assel, Zeit in Händen, 178, on Klepper’s view of the Confessing Church as a political, human organization.
- ↑ Cf., e.g., Sasse’s perceptive remarks in his 1934 essay “Union und Bekenntnis,” in In Statu Confessionis, 273-279, esp. 279, where he laments what the Hohenzollern Dynasty, including Friedrich Wilhelm I who abolished the Lutheran liturgy, has done to the Lutheran church, “the slow but thorough extirpation of Lutheran theology in Brandenburg-Prussia.” For him, the 1934 Barmen Confession but also the 1933 “official” German Evangelical Church stand in the worst tradition of Prussian meddling in the church (cf. also his “Die deutsche Union von 1933: Ein Wort zur ‘Verfassung der Deutschen Evangelischen Kirche,’” in In Statu Confessionis, 265-272).
- ↑ He had worked on it for about three and a half years, cf. Diary 13 September 1933 where he records the enthusiasm that struck him when he finally knew what his new book would be about; the following days and weeks are characterized by feverish research and writing activities in the course of which he feels transformed from a Silesian into a Prussian (cf. Diary 3 October 1933).
- ↑ Der König und die Stillen im Lande: Begegnungen Friedrich Wilhelms I. mit August Hermann Francke, Gotthilf August Francke, Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen, Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf, ed. J. Klepper, 4th ed. (Witten, Berlin: Eckart, 1962). On the title cf. Psalm 35:20 and Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 324f.
- ↑ Cf. Der König und die Stillen, 5-17.
- ↑ The king confides to G. A. Francke that he “cannot stand the Wittenbergers” because “they have retained so many papist elements and are too hard on the Reformed,” but also admits that there are combative “Wittenbergers” among the Reformed whom he therefore also dislikes, Der König und die Stillen, 120.
- ↑ In a 1941 reflection on this volume, Klepper notes that the king in all his doings was driven by his “belief that the king was to be a picture of God on earth” (“Die Entstehung und Grundlagen meiner drei Bücher über Friedrich Wilhelm I.,” in Jochen Klepper, Überwindung: Tagebücher und Aufzeichnungen aus dem Kriege, ed. H. Klepper (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1958), 235); cf. Diary 6 August 1937 where he, commenting on a meeting with Prussian monarchists, describes the Hohenzollern Dynasty – “blessed and cursed by God” – as simile for the “invulnerable majesty of the deus absconditus,” while, based on Romans 13, rejecting their “present political hopes” and vetoing their attempt to publicize in their circles Klepper’s four-part 1935 poem, “Der König” (The king, in Ziel der Zeit, 39-42); see furthermore Diary 29 May 1940.
- ↑ Typical for this quietist attitude is J. A. Freylinghausen’s reply to the king. First the former, when asked, dutifully enumerates the official differences between Lutheranism and Calvinism; but then, when the king replies that the Reformed basically agree with the Lutherans, states: “I have to congratulate your Majesty, since you are being taught better principles; however, the public doctrine is the one I just presented” (Der König und die Stillen, 60, emph. added).
- ↑ J. A. Freylinghausen, e.g., assures the king that “tolerance between the two parties” has already progressed well and that at Halle seminary “the professors do not lead the students into polemics, and the sermons are held, without discussing the controversies, for edification only,” Der König und die Stillen, 80.
- ↑ Cf. Der König und die Stillen, 130.
- ↑ The Reformed Schleiermacher, realigning himself with the Moravians after an early break with them, called himself “a Moravian … of a higher order,” as quoted in H.-J. Birkner, “Friedrich Schleiermacher,” in Gestalten der Kirchengeschichte, ed. M. Greschat (Stuttgart, Berlin, Cologne: Kohlhammer, 1984), 9.1:89.
- ↑ Cf. Araki, Jochen Klepper, 79-92, who, however, does not draw on Klepper’s Pietist heritage in this connection. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 150-153, points to Hermann’s influences here who taught Klepper to view each human life in light of God’s word, which is why Klepper understood his novel on the Prussian king as an account of his life as an example of a life lived under God’s word, of proven faith. The connections to the Pietist interest in “practical Christianity” are self-evident.
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 324f., on Zinzendorf’s use of the term in describing the Diaspora work of the Moravians: by means of individual (Moravian) saints other churches are to be reenergized.
- ↑ His letter is quoted in Assel, Zeit in Händen, 83f., esp. 84, where he was responding to Klepper’s 1940 essay “Der christliche Roman” (now in J. Klepper, Nachspiel: Erzählungen, Aufsätze, Gedichte (Witten, Berlin: Eckart, 1960), 84-101). Hermann wonders whether, in a person’s real life, God’s providence is always evident to the Christian writer’s intuition (a thought more akin to the teachings of Klepper’s other Breslau teacher, E. Seeberg, see note 23); he then asks: “You are not going to let the ecclesial-pastoral task in yourself grow too strong? I really liked what you said recently, namely, that you will not … allow yourself to be pushed away from your work as an artist to directly spiritual functions.” This advice is taken to heart by Klepper, cf. Diary 29 March 1940.
- ↑ Cf. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 178f., for a brief summary of this facet of Klepper’s life. Klepper maintained a lively correspondence with R. Schneider whom he had met in 1933 while working at Berlin radio; the 1934-1942 letters are published in Jochen Klepper, Briefwechsel 1925-1942, ed. E. G. Riemschneider (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1973), 63-157. He continued to maintain that the Catholic view of the believer is not that of the bible, namely, the sinner under grace; Protestantism appears closer to this (cf. Diary 18 March 1942). This is why he finds the waves of conversions to Catholicism in Germany and Austria troubling (cf. Diary 16 and 20 March 1942). Cf. also his remarks on 4 November 1935, reflecting on an encounter with Schneider: “Catholicism at times appears to me as a final stage before faith in which God still leaves men their dignity; in which he still spares them the dreadful look at the unworthiness of men.” On the next day he writes, after a first conversation on Protestantism and Catholicism with this fellow author: “A Catholic like Schneider works knowing that he works vainly before men and meritoriously before God – we Protestants have to endure our life knowing that our work is in vain before men and rejected before God. Every day this burdens me more. To stand thus in the demise of the nation is dreadful.”
- ↑ Unlike Araki, Jochen Klepper, 168, I do not quite see Klepper in the same camp as those who, after WWII, preach a “return to Judaism” in the Church. Araki, ibid., 184, offers a typical misrepresentation when she, based on his 1519-21 Operationes in Psalmos (she refers to WA 5:430.21ff., on Ps. 15:1), finds that the “early Luther” taught that Church and Synagogue simultaneously are “God’s tabernacle,” while it is apparent in this and other texts that both follow each other as the OT and NT churches, as the sum total of all those who fight in true faith against sin, world, and demons. In fact, Luther in the context takes the NT-time Jews as examples of those who falsely boast in ethnic prerogatives before God (cf. WA 5:429f.)!
- ↑ Typical is Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 209f., who mentions Johanna’s baptism; but the pages dealing with the events in June 1940 (270f.), the time of Renate’s baptism, do not mention it; similarly Thalmann, Jochen Klepper, 215, 261f.
- ↑ Klepper’s piety, like P. Gerhardt’s, was shaped by a strong albeit assailed belief in God’s providence that allowed him to abide with the fellow believers in his family under Christ’s cross where others fled or took to political means of resistance – is this belief “naïve”? It rather seems to be a genuine reflection of the passivity of the righteousness of faith which, according to Luther, shows itself in life not only in active service, but also in patient endurance of the God-sent cross (cf. AE 53:66). As Klepper notes, this kind of passivity has nothing to do with resignation but is filled with the expectant looking for God’s guiding, cf. Diary 7 June 1933. Araki, Jochen Klepper, 77, perceptively notices “everywhere in the diary a conspicuous tendency toward passivity.” On Gerhardt’s alleged passivity, cf. S. Grosse, Gott und das Leid in den Liedern Paul Gerhardts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2001), 290-295.
- ↑ Cf. especially the entry on 26 April 1942: “The day of my baptism. Through Hanni’s and Renerle’s baptism the day of baptism has, thanks to God, again become a day of remembrance celebrated in the heart; for years, I have not thought about it – that I have been baptized with water from the Jordan River, a present thought up by father’s mother from the Moravians.”
- ↑ On 18 April 1933 he writes in his diary: “Writing is an incessant baptism. To give names, to give names to all things that already have their names and time and again want to be baptized anew until they bear the eternal name. … Not: devise plans! Not: have ideas! Not: create figures! Baptism – that’s it. This is all of poetry! And in all of this is comprehend one’s own baptism! This [Isaiah 43:1]: ‘I have called you by your name; you are mine.’ Poetry is to speak to things and people in this way. Faith is to hear God speak to oneself in this way. Where God does not know me, I cannot name life and its bearers. When God does not address me, I cannot say anything about life. Only there lie the mysteries of productivity [as a writer]. … Narration is baptism. The pieces of wisdom out of which one lives are so simple.” The verse from Isaiah is Klepper’s baptismal verse that, “due to my vocation … must have a special meaning for me,” cf. Diary 7 June 1933.
- ↑ After he is fired from the radio station, he writes: “I am now pretty much in exile,” but cautions himself against adopting an “émigré attitude” that would distort his perception (Diary 10 June 1933).
- ↑ Typical is his entry on 30 July 1940: “Day by day – and this is now how I penetrate to the deepest layers of the ‘Eternal House’ – I understand more clearly what it means: The judgment begins at the house of God. It has started with the house of Israel.” The biblical verse referenced here is 1 Peter 4:17 (cf. also 21 April 1939 and 27 September 1942, both times applied to the Church). Cf. Diary 12 May 1939 on his despair over the display of “anti-Semitic sadism” in the media which leads him to say: “Blessed is he who belongs on the side of the suffering. – As hard as it is to say this,” also Diary 8 and 9 April 1942: the German cruelty against the Jews overshadows all suffering of the German people under the war effort. What is more, Klepper is sensitive to anti-Semitism from the beginning of Hitler’s rule, cf. Diary 8, 27 March 1933; often he speaks of the “silent pogrom,” e.g., 25 June 1933. – At the same time, however, news of euthanasia of chronically ill people give the Klepper family pause and leads them to see the Jewish fate “no longer in isolation,” Diary 2 May 1940.
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 95-97.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 6 January 1939 (Epiphany!), where Klepper complains about a weak mission service that, in his view, fell far short of appreciating “the great time of mission among Gentiles and Jews” which is now. On 28 February 1939 – after the destruction of Jewish synagogues in November 1938 – commenting on a news headline: “‘Thuringia’s Evangelical Church excludes Jews.’ I have not thought this to be possible. I consider this to be the most outrageous thing that so far has happened in the Third Reich” (emph. added). On 21 April 1939 Klepper, who already during his life was accused of holding too positive a view of political authorities, writes: “Step by step, the church retreats. Indeed, a judgment over God’s house has begun. The church is afraid of the state, not of God. This is what I say with my ‘authority mysticism’ that has often been held against me.” See furthermore 19 July 1942, commenting on the current prayers of the church: “the intercession for German POWs is missing – as well as the slightest hint at the duty to pray for the baptized Jews in their unfathomable misfortune, let alone any missionary petition.”
- ↑ Cf. Diary 19 June and 7 September 1933.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 15, 25 June 1933; on 1 July 1933, he writes that “there is for me in my heart a point where marriage and Lord’s Supper belong together since marriage from afar gives me an inkling of how the Ego and ‘the other’ belong together, how ‘the other’ says yes to a person;” furthermore Araki, Jochen Klepper, 71-77, on how Luther’s teaching on marriage shaped Klepper’s view of his own, how he suffered under the difference in faith, how he patiently taught his wife, trusting God’s power in the word.
- ↑ On 30 March 1938, his wife observes in light of the increasingly strident rhetoric of the Nazis against the Jews: “And the Jews just do not realize what is happening these days.” Klepper comments: “Is it then only the pastors who keep Hanni away from baptism?” On 23 August 1938, the day his wife shared her desire to be baptized, Klepper expresses his relief and writes: “God had admonished so clearly.”
- ↑ Cf. Diary 30 March 1938, in view of the Nazi’s hatred of the Jews, and the Jews’ enmity against Christ: “I cling to Romans 11.” On 21 August of the same year he hears a sermon commenting on Hitler’s anti-Jewish racism (race, not religion counts); it goes on thus: “However, if now individual Jews time and again let themselves be baptized, then this is the only visible sign that God has not forsaken the people of his old covenant even in Germany and that he draws it to himself in individual people,” cf. also 7 October 1938. On 24 August 1938, commenting on a new law according to which all Jews had to use Israel (males) and Sara (females) as middle name, he writes: “If now every Jew in Germany has to be called Israel, and every Jewess Sara – is this then not (through all sadism of the law, contrary to the will of the lawgiver) nonetheless a sign that God calls and brings home his people in German? Now every Jew can have himself baptized without the blemish of giving an opportunistic appearance” (this blemish once tainted his Jewish family’s desire to be baptized, cf. again Diary 14 March 1933!). – It seems that this is the main point in Klepper’s allusion to Rom. 11; and this is also why he views the destruction of the Jews as a “hard test of faith – for the Christians” (Diary 4 October 1938): if they perish in unbelief, where is God’s faithfulness to his old people (cf. Diary 22 September 1936)? Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 110, 193f., accentuates differently: He sees Klepper’s reference to Rom. 11 express “the unconditional acknowledgement of the Jews’ being elected first by God” as “essential part of his Christian identity.” Wecht, however, does not comment on Klepper’s reflections on God’s faithfulness to the Jews from August 1938 mentioned above.
- ↑ Cf. the entry on 30 March 1938: “National Socialism and Judaism are opposed as two enemies, both of whom hate Christ. – The Jews before Pilate: ‘Let his blood be on us and our children.’”
- ↑ Diary 12 and 13 November 1938. (And what they – and the Gentile Christians – have, they have by grace alone, cf. Diary 21 October 1938!) On 14 January 1936 he comments on emergent Zionism with Palestine at the center: “The new ‘reflection’ of Judaism on itself seems to me so empty, so false, so untruthful.” Araki, Jochen Klepper, 191, finds “rudiments of a religiously motivated anti-Judaism” in these thoughts as well as in Klepper’s affirmation of the need to evangelize the Jews. This again betrays the dispensationalist paradigm shift in Protestant theology after WWII that was foreign to Klepper.
- ↑ Cf. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 140-144.
- ↑ Cf. Thalmann, Jochen Klepper, 47, who points out that Klepper here has returned to the “churchly norm:” while his earlier fragmentary novel, Der eigentliche Mensch (The actual man), still allowed for “great fear” as a legitimate reason for suicide, now this kind of fear is itself traced back to the inability to believe God’s forgiveness: “Believe again in forgiveness and suicide will no more be an issue!,” Klepper wrote in the late 1920s. Klepper’s position in the 1930s and 1940s is different; cf., however, 2 April 1936, commenting on Luke 22:32 and Hebrews 1:3: “And if it were not for words like these, suicide as the ultimate consequence of self-judgment and fear would be all that is left in view of earth and heaven.”
- ↑ Cf. Assel, Aufbruch, 151.
- ↑ Cf. Klepper, “Einleitung,” 11. As Assel, Zeit in Händen, 142 with n. 35, points out, in 1935 Klepper viewed the “‘flight from belief in [double] predestination’ as religious foundation of the Vater [novel published in 1937].”
- ↑ In 1935 the same questions plague him again, when he, despite a positive initial reaction, remains ultimately unsatisfied by R. Thiel’s 1935 book on Luther because it does not address the question of the sin against the Holy Spirit in its connection to the fate of Judaism, cf. Diary 22/23 September 1935.
- ↑ Diary 23 June 1933 and, quite similarly, nine years later on 16 September 1942: “Should I with Hanni ever break free of the thought of committing suicide … I think that my attitude toward suicide will not fundamentally change anymore. It is forgivable sin as all the others. God made an exception only for ‘one sin,’ that against the Holy Spirit. This word too remains forever.” This final shift of position might have been triggered by his wife who, perhaps only a few days earlier, had disclosed to him her desire to commit suicide, cf. Diary 18 June 1933 where he confesses to have been “almost destroyed” by this revelation which he had feared already before (cf. Diary 14 June 1933).
- ↑ This document is available in R. Hermann, Aufsätze, Tagebücher, Briefe, ed A. Wiebel (n.p.: 2001), published online. It is partially quoted by Assel, Zeit in Händen, 143f.
- ↑ Cf. Hermann, Luthers Theologie, ed. H. Beintker (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967), 164: In his teaching on predestination, “Luther, above all, wants to … point to the word of election itself and to the place where it takes place, right in the awakening of faith in Christ. Election, according to Luther, is hardly some kind of distribution of lots before time, but is God’s acting in his revelation by which he builds his kingdom. We do not ‘know’ any other God than the electing one!”
- ↑ Diary 2 March 1936, cf. also the entry on the previous day.
- ↑ “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”
- ↑ Diary 4 November 1936.
- ↑ Diary 12 September 1935. He also noted: “… between God and man there has taken place some peculiar form of disorder and hardening on man’s part when longing for death has totally pushed aside shuddering at death’s being ‘the wages of sin.’”
- ↑ Cf. Diary 3 May 1936: “This is a hard struggle in which God wants to make us admit that we will endure his saving hand until the end, no matter how wretched life might be. Suicide is sin that is forgiven. But God still speaks, and the suicide will not work because of this -.”Cf. also Diary 29 September 1942: “Hanni’s and my condition show that man cannot do both of these things at the same time: provide for life in the near and far future and at the same time prepare for death. One plans and orders in both cases – and yet it is greatest disorder and without any support. Yet we do no longer find any other solution,” cf. the entry on 3 December 1942: “Preparing for Christmas and making the finishing touches on the will go side by side these days.” The same dilemma of being unable to plan for life and death is expressed as early as 6 July 1933 after Klepper’s change of mind occurred in the previous month when he already felt “encircled” with his wife, left “without any room anymore” by the “silent war” against Jews, and those tied to Jews, in Germany (Diary 25 June 1933).
- ↑ On 8 December 1938, under the impression of the destruction of Jewish stores and synagogues in November of that year and ten days before his wife’s baptism, Klepper writes: “I see more and more the great task Jewish Christians have among Jews, as if a separation between faith and fatalism, confidence and fanatic activity for the preservation of the existence, now had to become apparent in them;” cf. also 18 August of the same year: “The Jewish matters and what they mean as a symptom make us really sick. … With astonishment I see that nihilism is spreading about; and there is only a small circle that develops into resignation to God instead of nihilism.”
- ↑ On 8 December 1942, a couple of days before their suicide, Klepper notes, quoting 1 John 3:20: “God is greater than our heart. – This word shall yet accompany us into death.”
- ↑ Cf. 28 November 1942 where he, reflecting on what prevents him to fulfill his vocation as Christian writer, first discusses outward impediments, e.g., shortage of paper, but then confesses: “The paralysis lies deeper. How can I write ‘Christian things’ as long as the thought of suicide is not overcome?” On 17 November 1941 he states, as he reflects on the fate of acquaintances in mixed marriages: “one is about to take a terrible step whose guilt before God cannot be diminished. But one is not disturbed in the faith.”
- ↑ Cf. especially his reflections on 25 January 1942, furthermore see the entries for 2 June and 5 December 1942.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 12 March and 2 September 1942, also 12 November 1942: “It is the same for Hanni and me: the thought of suicide does not afford us any peace, no feeling of deliverance. We know that God has many ways to thwart such a plan. Yet we do not believe that we are able to withstand the temptation.” On 25 November he again writes of his hope that God might save them through the collapsing world “without our giving in to the temptation of suicide.”
- ↑ Cf., e.g., Diary 17 June 1942; his confidence to be able to survive this separation by God’s grace, expressed earlier (e.g., Diary 23, 25 June 1933 but see the doubts expressed on 14 June 1933!), has now vanished – almost as expected, see Diary 23 June 1933.
- ↑ “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord, your God.”
- ↑ She had decided that as early as November 1941, cf. Diary 17 November 1941.
- ↑ On 17 November 1941, Renate expressed her wish that her mother and Jochen should not go on living, even if she did manage emigrate to Sweden.
- ↑ Emph. in orig., similarly 17 November 1941. Assel, Zeit in Händen, 150, points to a letter from Klepper to Hermann written on 23 January 1940 (ibid., 74), where he tells his teacher: “…I have first now grasped the words: ‘Should they take body, good, honor, child and wife’ and the circumstances under which they were written. In what danger is especially Renate who is still with us.”
- ↑ It is worth noting that this last entry of Klepper’s diary is the first one for years not to be opened by a biblical verse.
- ↑ The Blessing Christ is a Gothic sculpture the Kleppers had purchased on their last trip to Bavaria in October 1942; it was meant to be Klepper’s Christmas gift for his wife, cf. Diary 28 October and 5 November 1942. On 15 November Klepper notes: “Time and again, our thoughts go to the Christ of the Augsburg sculpture, who is entreating, is struggling for the soul, is blessing, and wants to save. If the ‘Eternal House’ is ever going to be written: this Christ is the Christ of my book.” Here we also see how Klepper’s life was intertwined with the fate of the “Eternal House” book project.
- ↑ Cf. Klepper’s confession on 17 November 1941: “We want to die: but over this desire to die, as difficult as it is to comprehend this, stands the faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’[Job 19:25]”
- ↑ Cf. Wecht, Jochen Klepper, 315f. – It is noteworthy that Hugo Distler, five years younger than Klepper and one of the leading figures of the German church music renewal between the wars (see note 9 above and note 117 below) had committed suicide on 1 November, also by gas; cf. the tenth-anniversary eulogy by J. G. Mehl, “Kyrie eleison: Zum Gedächtnis Hugo Distlers und Jochen Kleppers,” Gottesdienst und Kirchenmusik 4 (1953): 116-120. D. Bonhoeffer, who knew Distler by his music he appreciated, wrote a condolence letter to Distler’s widow, Waltraud, on 15 November 1942, cf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, ed. M. S. Brocker (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006), 16:371f.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 18 September 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 12 January and 3 September 1935.
- ↑ Diary 9 January 1939.
- ↑ Cf. again the Luther-quote opening the collection (see note 8 above) and a diary entry on 22 June 1938 where he confesses that he wishes most that his hymns would be sung, not by this or that famous singer, but “by the congregation.”
- ↑ .Cf., e.g., Diary 4 and 7 October 1937 and 27 December 1937.
- ↑ Cf., e.g., Diary 1 August 1937.
- ↑ Luther’s three rules for becoming a real theologian able to teach others are prayer, meditation, and temptation, cf. AE 34:284-287.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 10 July 1938. The hymn is prefaced by 1 Timothy 6:15b, 16a; Acts 17:27b, 28a.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 29 Feb. 1940: the hymn is written “on our wedding text” (Philippians 4:4-7).
- ↑ Written on 9 April 1938, Klepper calls it “my contribution to this day of the new Reich” (9 April 1938 was observed as “day of the Großdeutsches Reich” with marches etc.). Klepper, as it were, juxtaposes the impressive marching columns of Hitler’s troops (but they cannot win the ultimate battle!) with those men engaged in the battles of prayer that are strengthened and healed by the Lord with bread and wine.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 5 June 1939.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 12 April 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 4, 5 June 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 24 July 1939.
- ↑ Cf. only, e.g., Diary 5 October 1938: “I now try to sleep without sleeping pills. I am experiencing that the most difficult thing now are the dreams that are released without restraints: air war, mobilization, being paralyzed by the cultural office, yes, even a bodily wrestling with the devil. A.D. 1938!” In fact, as he notes in his diary, he uses the first of the two evening hymns to come to rest at night without sleeping pills and learns from letters that others find it most comforting too, cf. Diary 8, 10 October 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 26 April 1937, commenting on his urge to play the piano: “as if I needed the sound of the old church music finally to be able to write the texts for my church hymns for the entire church year. For I am at rest and grounded in Bach as in Luther; there is no doubt about that. St. Matthew Passion and Art of the Fugue.” Indeed, Klepper’s poems are not only filled with bible; they are also born out of his own spiritual life in the music of the church.
- ↑ The text prefacing the hymn Klepper subscribed as “The Bible,” indicating a biblical origin of the text. It seems to be a summarizing paraphrase of the liturgical work of David and or Solomon. The poem seems to have been published first in Ihlenfeld’s 1935 collection, cf. Diary 1 December 1936.
- ↑ Cf., e.g., AE 1:248.
- ↑ Cf. esp. Thesis 78: “If Christ’s body and blood were in the bread and wine at the 1529 Marburg Colloquy, then they are there still in 1817” (Claus Harms, Ausgewählte Schriften und Predigten, ed. P. Meinhold (Flensburg: Chr. Wolff, 1955), I:222).
- ↑ Diary 28 November 1935. The book was written in less than a week, cf. Diary 23 November. A few days later, Klepper views his house, with its decorative art, in light of Harms’ saying: “Your house should not be a church, but it should at times be similar to a church” (Diary 3 December 1935).
- ↑ Cf. Diary 23 October 1940.
- ↑ The first line of the hymn’s last stanza, “God wills to dwell in darkness,” is found verbatim not only in 1 Kings 8:12 but also in a diary entry for 7 December 1937, a few days before this hymn was written: “I do not believe in actions [to change fate]. God wills to dwell in darkness, and the darkness can only be pierced by prayer,” cf. 12 December 1937: “The serious, serious Advent hymns: they are my comfort. From them comes my ‘tactic’ of prayer.” This sheds light on Klepper’s “passivity.”
- ↑ Given Klepper’s own appreciation for early church music (cf. esp. Diary 12 July 1938 and note 9 above), it is unfortunate that the editors of the LSB chose a Welsh folk melody for this hymn. R. Vaughn Williams is a good composer, but is his setting of the tune Llangloffan a proper translation of Klepper’s words into music?
- ↑ Cf., e.g, the hymnal of the LCMS’s German sister church, Evangelisch-Lutherisches Kirchengesangbuch (SELK: Hanover, 1987), # 14.
- ↑ Cf. his comments on repentance’s dangers of self-absorption, Diary 10 October 1935.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 17 December 1937.
- ↑ Cf. WA 27:492.5f. (25 December), where Luther paraphrases the message of the angel to the shepherds (Luke 2:10), applying it to his audience. The angel’s words, the chief part in this gospel, interpret the history of Christ’s birth and thereby “bestow the nativity and everything on us” (491.9-492.2). Since we are sinners in name and nature, the angel has to turn us away from ourselves: “Do not consider what you are, but look to him who has come to you. Do not consider that you are a poor sinner … but look to Christ who did not consider how poorly he was received in the neighborhood …” (492.5-7).
- ↑ Cf. Diary 29 November 1936.
- ↑ See also his poem, “Baum der Erkenntnis des Guten und Bösen” (Tree of knowledge of good and evil), a meditation on various kinds of trees in scripture between paradise and heaven (cf. Ziel der Zeit, 28f.). The third stanza is on the “verdant pine.”
- ↑ Cf. Diary 19 June 1938. Klepper’s “dear hymn,” “I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises” (TLH 25, LW 439) was sung at the service.
- ↑ The verse was part of the assigned readings for New Year’s Day, cf. Diary 1 January 1940.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 30 December 1937.
- ↑ It was written after Klepper attended a Maundy Thursday service with “one of the best sermons” of his pastor and prior to attending a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, cf. Diary 14, 15 April 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 6 May 1940.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 20 April 1938.
- ↑ Cf. Diary 12 May 1940 (Pentecost Sunday) where Klepper notes his disappointment because the preacher preached on the Holy Spirit without reflecting on his being the Comforter.
- ↑ See esp. Ps. 68:4, 11, 17, 20, 28, 35.
- ↑ It was written 13 May 1940. This hymn has an important political background in that since 1937 the Day of Penitence was no longer legally protected. Cf. Diary 17 November 1937; on 16 November he observes that no political struggle against repentance breaks church attendance.
- ↑ It was written on 12 November 1937, cf. Diary.
- ↑ See esp. Rev. 21:9-10, 2, 11, 14, 23, 25; 22:1-2; 21:3.
 External Links
- Homan, Gerlof. A German Mennonite Affirmation of Jochen Klepper in Nazi Germany, offering a short biographical overview.
- 2006 Deutsche Welle Feature on the church where Klepper was married in 1938.
- Several different pieces on Klepper in German, incl. a bibliography and a service using some of Klepper's hymns.
- German text of the Kyrie collection.