Eighty years ago: the bombing of Dortmund

The name Magney is well-known in New Apostolic circles in Germany: there were two Apostles with that name. The younger of the two was confirmed by the older one some eighty years ago. And the older Magney died in a bombing raid eighty years ago today. Today we pay tribute to a pioneer.

It was a cold spring day in early April 1923. It was barely five degrees Celsius that morning in Bielefeld in Germany. Many New Apostolic Christians got an early start that day because they did not want to miss what Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus—who was by then 75 years old—had announced as “restructuring his working area”. Things were getting too much for him. He could no longer look after the growing numbers of members in the north-west of the country by himself..

District Elders Paul Dach and Hermann Dietrich Magney were ordained as Assistant Apostles on that day for the district, which from then on was designated as the Dortmund Apostle District.

From shoemaker to Priest

Hermann Dietrich Magney, the second of five children, was born into a Protestant family in Dröschede in Germany on 14 May 1875. During his training as a shoemaker, he lived with the master shoemaker who taught him. The man’s name was Ernst Weehrt and he was already New Apostolic at the time. He later became a Bishop. He awakened in Hermann Dietrich the desire to become New Apostolic himself. And so in 1891, at the age of 16, Hermann Dietrich was sealed by Apostle Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff.

He loved the work of God and enjoyed helping along and received his first ministry five years later. In 1898 he was sent to Dortmund as a Priest.

A successful start

There the young Hermann Dietrich, he was 23 years old, found a handful of brothers and sisters and the opportunity to set up an express shoe repair business. And besides, he met his wife there: on 25 January 1900 he married Auguste Lörch. The two had seven children.

Things were not only going well for him privately in Dortmund; his presence in the city also had a positive effect on the Church. Numerous congregations soon sprang up in Dortmund and the surrounding area, and as early as 1905 the Dortmund Elder district was founded, which Hermann Dietrich Magney was then in charge of. Soon the Church was able to build its own church buildings, for example in Braunschweiger Street. The complex consisted of a church and an adjoining residential building, which Hermann Dietrich Magney moved into with his family.

A New Apostolic challenge

On 8 April 1923, a little more than a hundred years ago, Hermann Dietrich Magney received the Apostle ministry from Chief Apostle Niehaus, who had decided to restructure the responsibilities due to the steadily growing Church. For the time being, Chief Apostle Niehaus remained in charge of the area of Westphalia. Seven years later he finally retired and Hermann Dietrich Magney became District Apostle of Westphalia on 21 September 1930 during a divine service in Berlin.

As Apostle and later District Apostle, Hermann Dietrich Magney engaged in a friendly competition with his neighbour from Düsseldorf, Apostle Paul Dach, so that the number of believers grew in both cities.

A blessed family

Apostle Magney, who had by then become a grandfather, continued to be active in the Church. He was described as a man full of energy and very vigorous. At the age of 68, he still conducted the divine service in which his grandson Hermann Magney received the confirmation blessing. This was on 21 March 1943.

It is exactly 80 years to the day that bombs were dropped on the city of Dortmund in the night of 5 May 1943. That night 684 people died in the city. The church building on Braunschweiger Street was also hit. Although the residents were still able to make it to the air-raid shelter, six New Apostolic Christians lost their lives that night, including Hermann Dietrich Magney and his son, Hermann Magney. Apostle Magney is said to have regained consciousness and said, “Get the others out of the rubble,” before he died.

His grandson, whom he had confirmed just a few weeks before, survived. The boy and his mother moved in with her parents. Thirty-three years later, also in April, Hermann Magney was ordained as an Apostle.

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