Toiling with the Defeated: American Diaries from the Ruins of WWII - Deane and Ian Barbour in Hambur

Ian and Deane Barbour helped 1948 to remove debris in Germany

This book publishes the US diaries of Ian and Deane Barbour, Northfield, MN, who in 1948 participated in summer work camps in Münster and Hamburg. The young couple worked with American, Dutch, and German students to clear rubble from bombed buildings. These Christian groups also sought understanding and reconciliation between former enemies, and experienced moments of great honesty and emotional depth. Toiling with the Defeated (Schuften mit den Besiegten) includes photographs, documents that explain the background of the church work camps. Later, Dr. Ian G. Barbour became famous with his publications about the dialogue of religion and science. In Germany and Europe that summer there were 150 work camps with thousands of student volunteers from many countries. Extensive research about the work camps of 1948 was not successful. We hope that this publication encourages further engagement with these early friendship initiatives. Perhaps descendants of the participants (see appendix 1) own more documents. (Printed copy: www.LuLu.com )

Diaries are a special styles of literature that highlight a broad range of individual experiences. Among the best known oeuvres of this category are books by worldwide known authors as Max Frisch, Thomas Mann and Walter Kempowski, moving accounts by once unknown people like the Jew Anne Frank, and hoaxes like the disgraceful Hitler diaries by Konrad Kujau. And there are sober records reaching daylight after decades of being hidden that explain a certain historical period directly and simply.

Among such historical documents are the very personal diaries of Ian G. and Deane Barbour, from Northfield, Minnesota in the Midwest of the USA. This couple travelled to the defeated Germany in the summer of 1948 to help remove huge amounts of debris in Hamburg and Münster. In western and middle Europe that summer there were 150 work camps with thousands of student volunteers from many countries. The work camps were organized by Christian student organizations like the YMCA, Congregational Service Committee, and the American Friends Service Committee. Young people toiled for defeated Germans still scraping a living and hungry and nearly hopeless between hills of ruins.

Deane and Ian Barbour were married in 1947 in the US capital, Washington. Deane studied theology, and Ian physics. Later as a professor he became especially famous with his publications about the dialogue of religion and science. This was the reason that a foundation in Philadelphia honored Ian Barbour in 1999 with the Templeton Prize; most of the money was donated to a pertinent research center in Berkeley (California). Previous laureates were Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Alexander Solschenizyn, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Desmond Tutu. Regarding the bitter quarrel between materialists and fundamentalists Barbour asserted: "There are many people believing both in God and in the theory of evolution."

During the time in German work camps the food was modest: potatoes, carrots, porridge and bread. The young people got to know a huge range of human types: an incurable Nazi officer, a lady with strong faith, and many people who struggled with the great German guilt. The Americans could not forget the daily routine: "Crippled humans on the streets, children,...., some begging for food." The couple especially remembered the farewell service in a university chapel between ruins, when the community sang: "Goin' to lay down my heavy load".

The couple raised four children. John D. Barbour, Professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield (Minnesota), saves the diaries of his parents like a treasure. He handed them to the German historian of emigration, D. Joachim (Yogi) Reppmann.

We hope that this publication encourages further engagement with the US work camps of 1948. Perhaps descendants of the participants (see appendix 1) own more documents. A first success is Jeanne Lohmann from Olympia (State of Washington). This charming poet together with her husband led a work camp in 1948 in Bremen and recently reported how she returned together with the Barbour couple on the US troop carrier Marine Tiger back to America (see appendix III).

Printed copy via www.LuLu.com

Click on Cover to view full PDF / the book.

During the summer of 1948, Ian and Deane Barbour (longtime residents of Northfield; Ian taught Religion at Carleton College) participated in work camps in Münster and Hamburg, Germany. The young couple worked with American, Dutch, and German students to clear rubble from bombed buildings. The work camps were also a Christian experiment in international understanding and reconciliation between former enemies. This year John Barbour and Joachim (Yogi) Reppmann published a re-edited version of the diaries, with photographs, and other documents.

New York Times Obituary - Jan. 12th, 2014, Dr. Ian Barbour

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