"Julius Axenfeld, A Luther Legacy" - Part II



    The Lutheran Journal, Vol. 61, #3, 1992 - Erwin Weber


Julius Axenfeld, a follower of Martin Luther, devoted his life caring for the young, the old, the sick, and the poor. Aside from erecting a Lutheran church in Bad Godesberg, located adjacent to Bonn, the present capital of Germany, he built a retirement home for the elderly, housing for poor students, and hospitals for women. In addition, he was the founder of an orphanage in 1880 for neglected or abandoned children behind Godesburg Castle overlooking Bad Godesberg, the Rhine River with the historic Seven-Hill Mountains in the background. Axenfeld accepted orphaned and neglected Protestant children of all ages, including infants, and sickly children, even those who were destitute, raised them in the spirit of the Lutheran tradition, and kept them until they completed their education in the classroom and had learned a skilled trade.

The cover photo, shows children at the Godesheim orphanage in 1931. I am the boy with the curly hair, third from the right. I spent six years at the orphanage between 1928 and 1935. The orphanage is still in operation today. Reinhold Gerhard, the current director of Godesheim, believes, a "good orphanage upbringing is possible. The old adage that to live in the worst family is better than an orphanage is no longer true." As in the days of Axenfeld, the orphanage is administered and supported by the Lutheran Church. Foster money finances each child. All contributions to the institution go exclusively to the benefit of the children.