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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LMA/4288
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1852-1998
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 15 linear meters
Name of creator(s): Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church xx German Evangelical Church | Sydenham


Administrative/Biographical history:

The German Evangelical Church, later the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church, was built 1882-1883. The foundation stone was laid on 13 July 1882 in Dacres Road, Sydenham and the church was finally dedicated on 17 March 1883.

The origin of the Sydenham congregation preceeds the building of the church. On Good Friday 1875, the first service was conducted by Pastor Elias Schrenk in Park Hall Congregational Church, The Grove, Sydenham. On 14 April of the same year, the first church committee was formed.

The church suffered greatly during the two World Wars. From Easter 1916 until October 1921, the church was forced to close because of hostility towards the German community. In December 1940, incendiary bombs set fire to the church. The damage was such that the building was finally demolished in August 1950. Negotiations with the War Damage Commision raised $34,000 in funds for the rebuilding of the church.

The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 20 July 1958, and the church was dedicated 21 June 1959. The new church was renamed the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church, a suggestion made by Professor Franz Hildebradt. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was pastor of the German Evangelical Church in Sydenham and the German Reformed Church of St Paul's, Whitechapel between 1933-1935. He led his congregations to join the Confessing Church in Germany, and in the early years of the Nazi regime, German refugees recieved help from the two congregations. He was a prominent member of the German Resistance Movement and was involved in a plot to assasinate Hitler. On 9 April 1945, he was hanged by the Nazis in Flossenburg concentration camp.

Other pastors who served at the church (until 1953) are as follows:-

1876-1890 Wagner, C (Budapest) 1890-1894 Meister, M (Berlin-Brandenburg)

1895-1902 Diettrich, Dr (Berlin)

1902-1911 Wollschlager (Westphalia)

1912-1918 Goehling, O (Berlin-Brandenburg)

1922-1933 Singer, F (Wurttemberg)

1933-1935 Bonhoeffer, D (Berlin)

1935-1939 Bockheler, M (Wurtemberg)

1953 - Bethge, E (Berlin)


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection consists of records relating to the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church and other German Churches in London, 1852-1998: Saint Georg (Alie Street, London E1), Saint Paul (Goulston Street, London E1), Camberwell Church (Denmark Hill SE5), Saint Marien (Sandwich Street, WC1) and Brighton Church. The greater part of the collection originated from Pastor Dr Julius Rieger (reponsible for the parish 1945-1953) and Pastor Wallman who assisted Rieger from 1951. The records also include the archives of the Camberwell Church which closed in 1914.

The collection includes papers relating to Church Constitution and meetings; Council correspondence; relations with the church in Germany; pastoral correspondence; Parish history and statistics; papers relating to staff including Pastors and Curates; registers of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and burials, 1876-1977; records of services held; hymn books, prayer books and sermons; records of different Church organisations and societies; newsletters; correspondence with German prisoners-of-war, correspondence regarding the organisation of aid for prisoners of war and prisoner of war camp newspapers and newsletters, Second World War; correspondence regarding the organisation of aid for refugees, Second World War; correspondence regarding aid for post-Second World War Germany; papers regarding the welfare of German immigrants in Great Britain; financial and legal papers relating to property; papers relating to Church buildings and Vicarage buildings.

Papers relating to other German congregations including registers of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths for the Camberwell Church, 1854-1914; administrative papers of the Camberwell Church; papers relating to other German churches both in London and Great Britain; papers relating to work with other Lutheran churches and the Union of Lutheran churches; reports, conference papers and correspondence from the German-speaking Evangelical Synod in Great Britain; correspondence and other papers from the Geistlicher Rat (Lutheran Council); papers regarding relations with other churches and copies of the Inter-congregational newsletter.

Publications including pamphlets, newsletters, booklets and press cuttings; photographs of Pastors, church members and church buildings.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
German and English

System of arrangement:

The records had already been listed when they arrived at LMA, and this original order has been retained. Although the call number has been changed to reflect the LMA office style of cataloguing, the original document number has been included in the list (in parenthesis after the document description). The present arrangement of the material reflects the arrangement described in 'Catalogue to the archives of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Kirche (German Church, Sydenham)' as much as possible.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

Records relating to the Dietrich-Bonhoeffer Church can also be found at the Tower Hamlets Local Studies Library amongst the material of St Georg Church. Records relating to Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer are held in Berlin. This collection contains a microfilm index of the material held in this archive (LMA/4288/H/01/019 {item 656})

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January to March 2009

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