An old leather-bound document, written in 1541 by Martin Luther, has been returned to a German museum by the Concordia Historical Society.
Among the guests who came from Germany for the recent ceremony at Concordia Seminary was Marianne Luther of Berlin, the widow of Gunther Luther, who was 13th in descent from Martin Luther's brother."Very important, significant," she said about the first step in the return trip of the manuscript "Wider Hans Worst" to her homeland.
Until World War II, the 80-page manuscript had been on display at the Cultural History Museum in Magdeburg, Germany. A GI found it on a factory floor at the end of the war and it was given to a U.S. military chaplain, the Rev. Theodore P. Bornhoeft, a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The chaplain brought it back to New Jersey and kept it in his study. In 1950, at the suggestion of Missouri Synod officials, he mailed it to the institute at Concordia and asked that it be given back to Magdeburg after the communists left. He died in 1990.
Before the transfer, more than 150 people sang Luther's hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," in German.
Then, with a flourish and a wide smile, the Rev. Daniel Preus, director of the Concordia Historical Institute, placed the document into the safekeeping of Matthais Puhle, the Magdeburg museum director.