German Pietism and the Expectation of the Messiah, 1817 in the Caucasus

By Kamran Ekbal

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #18
Trent Park Campus: London, England
August 21–24, 1998
(see list of papers from #18)

    In 1817, the year in which Bahá'u'lláh was born in the city of Núr on the shores of the Caspian, a large group of German Pietists from the State of Wurttemberg set out on a long and distressing journey to the Caucasus, expecting the advent of the Messiah somewhere in the vicinity of the Caspian region in North Persia. Their journey ended in the Caucasus. The tense situation along the Russian-Persian borders prevented many of them from continuing their migration into Persia.

    In the prospering colonies founded by them all along the Caucasus, in Georgia, Armenia, and Azarbaidjan, their strong sense of Messianic expectation deteriorated, but never dried up. From the midst of German Pietism arose soon the new movement of the Templers, who made then their way to Palestine in 1868 curiously enough like in 1817, as if on the very footstep of Bahá'u'lláh. Many of their coreligionists from the Caucasus followed up and joined them in Palestine.

    This paper will describe the dramatic events that took place on the eve of the departure of the Wurttemberg Pietists and led to their migration into the Caucasus. It will also portray the Lithwanian Baroness Crudener, "prophetess" of the movement, who played a major role in motivating the people to migrate.

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