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Tortured for not wearing the US military uniform

Posted by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:08 PM
  • 11 Replies

Sentenced to Alkatraz

Written by: Linda Maendel on Sunday, November 11th, 2012

During their stay in the Dakotas, Americans barely noticed the Hutterites, that is, until World War I broke out in 1914. But then they were viewed as foreigners because they spoke German and refused to participate in the war. Nor did they contribute any money towards the financing of the war. Of course, this did not go over well with the English-speaking neighbors, who raided the colonies and stole livestock and supplies to help finance the war.

Since it was compulsory, Hutterites sent their young men to military camps, but they didn’t allow them to obey any military commands or wear a uniform. At Camp Funston, the men were beaten and tortured, dragged by their hair, and even chased by motorcycles until they dropped from exhaustion. They were hung by their feet above water so that they nearly drowned.

One famous case of such brutal torture involved Jacob Wipf and three Hofer brothers, Joseph, Michael and David. During the hottest time of the year, they spent four months in a dungeon at Alkatraz where they were severely mistreated. The first twenty-four hours they were given half a glass of water. Because the western wall of the dungeon faced toward the sea, the full force of the often-stormy Pacific constantly beat against it. Therefore, water seeped through the cell walls, making the heat even more oppressive. Without bedding, the brothers slept on the cold cement floor, chained to each other by the ankles.

For nine hours each day, their hands were forcibly raised above their heads and chained crosswise to the iron bars of their cells above the door. This meant that they couldn’t even defend themselves against mosquitoes and other insects.

When they refused to don the military uniform, they were placed in solitary confinement. On Sunday they were brought to the upper level and permitted to walk around the enclosed compound with the other prisoners, one of who exclaimed with tearful eyes, “Is this a way to treat human beings?” The brother’s arms were terribly swollen and they were covered with a ghastly rash.

When morale sank far deeper than sea level, the loss of home and family was particularly painful, because solitary confinement made speaking to each other impossible. Miraculously, they discovered an unexpected source of encouragement and strength – the German songs of faith they knew from back home! Softly one of the men would start a morning or evening hymn. In their cells, the others heard and joined in, each rejoicing to know that the others were still alive – like our forefathers had done centuries before in the dungeons of Europe.

Later they were transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where they were continually mistreated. It was here that Joseph and Michael Hofer fell very ill and had to be hospitalized. The other two brothers, still in prison, were allowed to send a telegram home to tell the families of Joseph and Michael about their illness. Shortly thereafter, they both died in the hospital at Fort Leavenworth, just before their wives, a minister and another brother arrived.

Maria, Joseph’s wife insisted on seeing her husband, when the officer at the desk told her that he had died two hours previously. Distraught and grief-stricken, she stood before his coffin. Raising the lid, she gasped in horror, “You would insult him by dressing him in death in a military uniform he refused to wear in life.”

David too, was permitted to visit his dying brother, Michael and was later unexpectedly released. By that time the Hutterites had lost faith with the American government and decided to investigate the possibility of immigrating to Canada. Finally, the Hutterite leaders received word from the Canadian government that they were welcome to settle on the prairies. Thus, they emigrated to Canada in 1918. The Schmiedenleut established six colonies in Manitoba, the Dariusleut five in Alberta, and the Lehrerleut also founded four colonies in Alberta.

Meanwhile, Jacob Wipf was kept in solitary confinement for another year. He was finally released on April 12, 1919, long after the Armistice had been signed.

After WWII, some Hutterites returned to South Dakota establish colonies there once more and were able to purchase several of the former colony sites. Today, there are Schmiedenleut in the Dakotas and Minnesota, US and in Manitoba, Canada. The Darius- and Leherleut live in SK and AB Canada and in Montana, Washington, Oregon, US.

We’re deeply grateful for religious freedom in both Canada and the United States, especially when we’re reminded that our forefathers steadfastly fought for and gave their lives for their faith. To God be the glory!

by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:08 PM
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Replies (1-10):
_Kissy_
by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:12 PM
LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:13 PM

 Why is Alcatraz spelled with a K in this story?  I feel like something is missing here, there is no context.

Stephanie329
by Ruby Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:15 PM
How horrific and sad.
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FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Hmmmm, the purpose of this story?

The last few sentences.........

Celtic_Dragon
by Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Most Hutterites do not receive an education past the 8th grade. They don't need it because they are a self-sustaining colony people.

It is mostly history. 75% of their population live in Canada today. This is the reasons why. They were prosecuted due to their religion in a country that prides itself for its religious freedom. It is irony.

Quoting LauraKW:

 Why is Alcatraz spelled with a K in this story?  I feel like something is missing here, there is no context.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:43 PM


Quoting Celtic_Dragon:

Most Hutterites do not receive an education past the 8th grade. They don't need it because they are a self-sustaining colony people.

It is mostly history. 75% of their population live in Canada today. This is the reasons why. They were prosecuted due to their religion in a country that prides itself for its religious freedom. It is irony.

Quoting LauraKW:

 Why is Alcatraz spelled with a K in this story?  I feel like something is missing here, there is no context.


Ahhhhhhh, well.....thanks for taking the time to add that in.

Makes a bit more sense now.

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:47 PM

 the glory be to god....LOL  what did they fight for exactly?  The fathers actually sent them to military camp...for what?  So they didnt get in trouble and got to stay home?  Thats godly of them.  And why did they send them and then tell them they couldnt fight or don on the uniform...was that so they themselves felt godly and law abiding.

seems like those who didnt get sent to military camps were the ones who were the winners. 

They didnt fight for religious freedoms....they were stupid hicks who sent their kids to a tortuous death.  In other words...arseholes.

Celtic_Dragon
by Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Before we come to the conclusion that they had no interest in protecting their country (this is false, they just cannot fight - as is stated in their religion) they helped out in many other ways. They are also some of the most hard working people in our countries. as they make everything they own and eat by hand and by scratch. They grow and harvest almost all of their goods and they will sell and purchase goods from their local communities.

There is even a colony in Canada that owns and runs a plastic recycling plant.

More info on their history:

WW1 & Beyond

From 1939-1945, during the second war, Hutterites again refused to participate in the war.  Instead they performed public work such as planting trees in national parks, working in paper mills, handling grain elevators and helping in church camps.

During 1940-1950 the Dariusleut and Lehrerleut established 20 more colonies.  Gradually hostility began to stir against the colonies in the west.  Alberta farmers were concerned because so many Hutterites were settling in some areas, so the “Land Sales Prohibition Act” was passed in 1942.  This provincial law prevented people from selling their land to Hutterites.  For 5 years this law was in effect, and then in 1947 a new law was passed.  This stated that no new colonies were to be built, and no colony could have more than 6400 acres of land.  It was also necessary to offer land for sale 60 days before any Hutterites could buy it.

From 1939-1945, during the second war, Hutterites again refused to participate in the war.  Instead they performed public work like planting trees in national parks, working in paper mills, handling grain elevators and helping in church camps.

In Manitoba however, people didn’t feel quite so hostile towards the Hutterites.  However in 1957, a gentleman’s agreement was made that stated Hutterites would build no more than two colonies in a large municipality and only one in smaller ones.  The Hutterites also agreed to own no more than 5120 acres, and that that their colonies would be established at least 10 miles apart.

In 1973 the laws in Alberta were repealed, and in a five-month period after that 44,475 acres of land were bought, and seven new colonies established.  By 1980 the total population of the Hutterites exceeded 24,326 and by 1996 the number was around 37,000.

Today, an estimated 45 000 Hutterites live scattered throughout the North American prairies on approximately 460 Bruderhöfe (colonies).

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting Celtic_Dragon:

Most Hutterites do not receive an education past the 8th grade. They don't need it because they are a self-sustaining colony people.

It is mostly history. 75% of their population live in Canada today. This is the reasons why. They were prosecuted due to their religion in a country that prides itself for its religious freedom. It is irony.

Quoting LauraKW:

 Why is Alcatraz spelled with a K in this story?  I feel like something is missing here, there is no context.


Ahhhhhhh, well.....thanks for taking the time to add that in.

Makes a bit more sense now.


Celtic_Dragon
by Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM

They helped in other ways. They were forced to send their sons to military camp. Their colonies were being ransacked because they refused to send their boys off. Their religion tells them they cannot kill and fight.

They helped out in many other ways to try and help in a non-violent way. I posted more of that above.

You don't know these people or their religion or their way of life. How can you come to such a stark conclusion of an entire people who have defied time and prosecution for four centuries from one article?

Quoting turtle68:

 the glory be to god....LOL  what did they fight for exactly?  The fathers actually sent them to military camp...for what?  So they didnt get in trouble and got to stay home?  Thats godly of them.  And why did they send them and then tell them they couldnt fight or don on the uniform...was that so they themselves felt godly and law abiding.

seems like those who didnt get sent to military camps were the ones who were the winners. 

They didnt fight for religious freedoms....they were stupid hicks who sent their kids to a tortuous death.  In other words...arseholes.


turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:06 PM

 I come from a culture who would never send their kids off ...even when forced and our beliefs have survived. 

Its something I dont admire of any religious sect, its cowardice IMO....let the small amount of people suffer for the greater good of the majority.

Quoting Celtic_Dragon:

They helped in other ways. They were forced to send their sons to military camp. Their colonies were being ransacked because they refused to send their boys off. Their religion tells them they cannot kill and fight.

They helped out in many other ways to try and help in a non-violent way. I posted more of that above.

You don't know these people or their religion or their way of life. How can you come to such a stark conclusion of an entire people who have defied time and prosecution for four centuries from one article?

Quoting turtle68:

 the glory be to god....LOL  what did they fight for exactly?  The fathers actually sent them to military camp...for what?  So they didnt get in trouble and got to stay home?  Thats godly of them.  And why did they send them and then tell them they couldnt fight or don on the uniform...was that so they themselves felt godly and law abiding.

seems like those who didnt get sent to military camps were the ones who were the winners. 

They didnt fight for religious freedoms....they were stupid hicks who sent their kids to a tortuous death.  In other words...arseholes.

 

 

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