Wilhelm Busch (pastor)

Wilhelm Busch (27 March 1897 – 20 June 1966) was a German pastor, youth evangelist, writer[2] and activist in the Confessing Church during the Nazi period in Germany.

Wilhelm Busch
From the cover of the book Jesus our destiny (1993 edition)
Born(1897-03-27)27 March 1897
Elberfeld, present-day Wuppertal
Died20 June 1966(1966-06-20) (aged 69)
OccupationProtestant pastor, youth evangelist, writer
Known forresistance against totalitarian Nazi regime, Evangelizations for youth, literary works, probably the most famous evangelistic book in German language; Citation: "Half-Christian is a full swindler."[1]


Wilhelm Busch was born in Elberfeld on 27 March 1897, a son of pastor Dr. Wilhelm Busch. His mother, Johanna Busch, (née Kullen), came from the House of Kullen, Hülben (near Urach) which was rooted in Swabian Pietism. Although Wilhelm Busch came from a famous family of pastors, in his early years he was anything but religious. He spent his early life in Frankfurt where he pursued and finished his secondary school studies. After graduating he served with the German army as a young officer-lieutenant in World War I, where on the battlefield at Verdun he came to a personal faith in Christ when a comrade was hit by a grenade.[3]

When the war was over he decided to study protestant theology in Tübingen. After completing his studies he served six months as a vicar in the Lutheran Church at Gellershagen near Bielefeld where he met his future wife Emilie ("Emmi") Müller. In 1924 he became a pastor in Essen, where he started with an evangelistic Christian ministry especially to local miners. In 1929 he became a youth pastor in the Christian youth centre in Essen, later called Weigle-Haus (member of the western German CVJM/YMCA), established by his predecessor, Pastor Wilhelm Weigle.[2][4] At the same time he was preaching evangelising sermons all over the country and abroad.

The present-day Weigle-Haus in Essen. Pastor Busch took over the leadership of the House in 1929. On 11 February 1934 the Protestant youth club (Evangelische Jugendverein) was dissolved and the youth house closed. Busch resisted pressure to merge with the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) and soon managed to reopen the house. The youth work continued under the name "City Mission" and the house itself received its present name, the "Weigle-Haus". During World War II the house was partially destroyed and reconstruction took place until it was reopened again on 23 May 1954. Wilhelm Busch still led the work until his official retirement in 1962. The program for youth revolved mainly around the jointly spent Sundays with Church services, sports and games and even educational opportunities such as the so-called intelligence-club (Intelligenz-Club).[5]

During the time of national socialism he adopted the uncompromising position of the German Confessing Church against the influence of the Third Reich on the life of the Church.[6] As an active member of this opposition to government-sponsored efforts to nazify the German Protestant church, he proclaimed his faith openly and ignored orders to refrain from teaching the Bible—which earned him several arrests and lengthy jail confinements. Even under the Nazis, Pastor Busch managed to attract attendances of two to three hundred boys at his scripture lessons. He was holding Bible study meetings in private houses, in basements, and in the open air. His son never attended the meetings of the Hitler Youth though this was required by law.[7] On one occasion in 1937 he was arrested right after evangelising in the church of St. Paul in Darmstadt due to Nazi authorities feeling upset over the capability of the Christian movement to attract the attention of the general public with Biblical messages and counter their own aspirations to control the masses. During the sermon, state officials tried to avoid a public uproar in the crowded Church and let him preach. After being captured, an SS commissioner presented him official orders expelling him from the territory of Hessen. As he refused to accept due to his commitment to perform Biblical work among people as a pastor, he was immediately taken into custody.[8]

During my life, I have passed through periods of various hard trials. Because of my faith I have been thrown into prisons on more than one occasion. Not because I had been stealing silver spoons or had committed some other crime. In the Third Reich, Nazis didn't like youth pastors like me, and that's why authorities kept throwing me into these pretty sinister places.[6]

After World War II he renewed his activities as a youth pastor and itinerant evangelist with the slogan "Jesus our destiny" becoming the central topic of his ministry even after his official retirement in 1962.

He was a Christian pacifist.[9]

Busch's pupils in the post-war era included Ulrich Parzany[10] who said he was strongly affected by Busch's "clear, illustrative and bold proclamation of the gospel".[11]

He died in hospital in Lübeck on 20 June 1966 while on the trip home after evangelising in Sassnitz on Rügen.[2] The theme of his last sermon a day before was "Is life with God worth it?" ("Was hat man denn von einem Leben mit Gott?"). He was buried four days after his death. The funeral was attended by a number of people including the later President of the Federal Republic of Germany Gustav Heinemann who gave in his oration the following testimony about the late fellow:

Wherever he emerged, there was always something going on. The essential about him however was that as an ambassador of his Lord he was credible and penetrated all reservations. (Wo er zugegen war, passierte immer etwas. Das Eigentliche an ihm aber war dieses, dass er ein glaubhafter und aller Vorbehalte durchstoßender Bote seines Herrn war.)[3]

Literary worksEdit

  • Jesus Our Destiny [9] (in German Jesus unser Schicksal) is the most well known of his works.[3][12] It is based on a compilation of his radio speeches. A common theme in his speeches is the centrality of Jesus to Christian doctrine. Published after his death, this book has been translated into all major world languages and attained a worldwide distribution of several million copies.[3] The title "Jesus Our Destiny" comes from the main topic of big Evangelization that pastor Busch held in Essen in 1938.[13]


  1. ^ Busch, Wilhelm (2006). Bileam – Josaphat – Simson. Wilhelm Busch Bibliothek (in German). 5. Aussaat. p. 82.
  2. ^ a b c Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm (1975). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Aalders–Faustus v. Byzanz (in German). 1 (Band I). Hamm: Verlag Traugott Bautz. ISBN 3-88309-013-1. Busch, Wilhelm (1897–1966); ...während einer Evangelisationsreise...und seit 1931 als Jugendpfarrer in Essen
  3. ^ a b c d "Wilhelm Busch, Sein Leben, Sein Werk" (in German). Meinerzhagen, Germany: Buchhandlung Bühne GmbH. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  4. ^ "BEKANNTE MITGLIEDER DER CVJM/YMCA BEWEGUNG INTERNATIONAL (Famous members of CVJM/YMCA international movement)" (in German). Retrieved 20 November 2011. 1929/30 to 1962 youth pastor in CVJM's Weigle-Haus in Essen, which had been established by his predecessor, pastor Wilhelm Weigle. (in German: Wilhelm Busch (*1897; † 1966), evangelischer Pfarrer, Prediger, Schriftsteller.1929/30 bis 1962 Jugendpfarrer in dem von seinem Vorgänger, Pfarrer Wilhelm Weigle, 1912 eingerichteten Weigle-Haus (CVJM) in Essen. Während der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus brachte ihn sein Glaube und der Kampf der Bekennenden Kirche mehrfach ins Gefängnis. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg war er unter anderem als reisender Evangelist tätig.)
  5. ^ "Das Weigle-Haus und seine Geschichte: Das Weigle-Haus – ein Jugendhaus im Zentrum des Ruhrpotts und seine bewegte Geschichte..." [Weigle Hause and its history] (in German). Hohenburgstraße 96, 45128 Essen: Evangelische Jugend Weigle-Haus e.V. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2011. Ein Haus und seine Geschichte...1929 übernahm Wilhelm Busch die Leitung des Hauses. Am 11. Februar 1934 wurde der Evangelische Jugendverein jedoch aufgelöst und das Jugendhaus geschlossen. Busch widerstand dem Druck, die Jugendarbeit mit der Hitler-Jugend zu vereinigen und konnte sogar kurze Zeit später das Haus wieder eröffnen. Die Arbeit lief weiter unter dem Namen Stadtmission, das Haus selbst erhielt seinen heutigen Namen und wurde zum Weigle-Haus. Während des Zweiten Weltkriegs wurde das Haus teilweise zerstört und konnte erst am 23. Mai 1954 wieder eröffnet werden. Wilhelm Busch leitete die Arbeit noch bis 1962. Das Programm für die Jugendlichen drehte sich weiterhin vor allem um die gemeinsamen Sonntage mit Gottesdiensten, Sport und Spiel und auch Bildungsangebote wie den sogenannten "Intelligenz-Club". Unter der Woche fanden in vielen Stadtteilen die zum Weigle-Haus gehörenden Jungscharen und Jungenschaftsgruppen statt.CS1 maint: location (link)
  6. ^ a b Busch, Wilhelm (1987). Jesus our destiny. inter publishing service. pp. 5, 207. ISBN 0-86347-024-6. Because he adopted the strong uncompromising position of the German Confessing Church against the intrigues of the Third Reich in the life of the Church, and dared to proclaim his faith openly, Busch was imprisoned several times by the Nazis
  7. ^ Lindt, Andreas (1988). Die Zeit nach 1945 als Thema kirchlicher Zeitgeschichte: Referate der ... [The period after 1945 as the topic of Church History] (in German). Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 276. ISBN 3-525-55409-5. I met two of the youth pastors , …and Pastor Wilhelm Busch of Essen, both recognized specialists in youth work.
  8. ^ Spoveď pri Verdune (Confession near Verdun) (in Slovak). Kežmarok: ViViT. 2000. p. 103. ISBN 80-88903-10-6.
  9. ^ a b Busch, Wilhelm (1993). Jesus –our destiny. Collection Ips. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-86347-024-0.
  10. ^ Bauschke, Martin (2000). Jesus: Stein des Anstosses (in German). Böhlau. p. 257. ISBN 9783412076009.
  11. ^ "Rozhovor: Ulrich Parzany: Žijeme v jednom velkém supermarketu" [Interview: Ulrich Parzany: We are living in one big shopping mall]. Brána (in Czech). Prague: 6–9. 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2011. My personal model was the youth pastor and evangelist Wilhelm Busch from Essen. His clear, illustrative and bold proclamation of the gospel influenced me strongly.
  12. ^ ""Jesus unser Schicksal" -Klassik-Ausgabe" (in German). Christliche Buchhandlung leseplatz.de. Retrieved 19 November 2011. "Jesus is our destiny" is probably the most famous evangelistic book in German language. ("Jesus unser Schicksal" ist wohl das bekannteste evangelistische Buch in deutsche Sprache.)
  13. ^ Busch, Wilhelm (2011). Ježiš náš osud [Jesus our destiny] (in Slovak). Introduction by Karl-Heinz-Ehring. Bielefeld: CLV. p. 4. ISBN 978-3-89397-717-8. In 1938 "Jesus our destiny" – was the main topic of preaching by pastor Busch at big Evangelization that took place in Essen.


  • Becker, Wolfgang; Hahn, Eberhard; Hille, Rolf (1997). "Dein Wort ist die Wahrheit. Festschrift für Gerhard Maier". In Neudorfer, Heinz-Werner (ed.). Die Autorität der Heiligen Schrift in der evangelistischen Verkündigung. Zu einer These von Wolfgang Bub am Beispiel des Evangelisten Wilhelm Busch (in German). Wuppertal: R. Brockhaus. pp. 279–295. ISBN 3-417-29424-X.
  • Becker, Wolfgang (2010). "'Beiträge zu Evangelisation und Gemeindeentwicklung". Wilhelm Busch als evangelistischer Verkündiger (in German). Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag. p. 14. ISBN 978-3-7887-2444-3.
  • Busch, Emmi (1980). Ein Bündel Briefe (in German). Wuppertal: Aussaat- und Schriftenmissions-Verlag. ISBN 3-7958-0839-1.
  • Busch, Wilhelm (2009). Plaudereien in meinem Studierzimmer [Small talks in my study] (in German) (11 ed.). Aussaat. p. 299. ISBN 978-3-7615-5704-4.
  • Ehring, Karl-Heinz (1997). Ulrich Parzany (ed.). Begegnungen mit Wilhelm Busch [Meetings with Wilhelm Busch] (in German). Aussaat Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn. p. 95. ISBN 3-7615-3569-4. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  • Parzany, Ulrich (1973). 'Im Einsatz für Jesus. Programm und Praxis des Jugendpfarrers Wilhelm Busch (in German). Gladbeck: Schriftenmissions-Verlag. ISBN 3-7615-3509-0.
  • Staebler, Martin (2009). 'Pastor Wilhelm Busch. Biografische Notizen als Gestaltungsmittel der Verkündigung (in German) (chrismon ed.). Frankfurt am Main: Hansisches Druck- und Verlagshaus. ISBN 978-3-86921-010-0.

External linksEdit