Letter from Karl Nagel to Olive Nagel Andersen

August 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm (Nagel Roots) (, )

Newton Abbot
Devon, England
16th September 1977

My dear Olive,

I forget when we last wrote to each other! Never mind. Only the present matters!

This letter chiefly concerns our beloved father, who is now in the Glory. Ever since coming to England, it was my wish to see his grave in Wiedenest. I had nothing more to go on, however, than that he was born in Stammheim. Auntie once told me this when I was in India. I wrote to the German Embassy in London, asking them if they could tell me where this place was. They replied stating that there were 4 “Stammheims” in Germany, and unless I could tell them the district, they could not help! So I was stuck there, but the Lord worked things in His own way and time.

When I was working in Madras, there was a Muslim named Shah and a girl named Daphne Fernandez working with me. They married each other and left India for Dar-es-Salaam (now Tanzania), where Shah got a good job in the government. They were both converted and received into fellowship in the local Brethren Assembly, where Shah became an elder. We were in touch with them through correspondence. About five or six years ago Shah gave up his job owing to the political changes in Tanzania, and came and settled in London, where he is now working in the income tax department. I once informed him that my father was buried in Wiedenest and that I had a desire to see his grave. It was then that he informed me that when he was at Dar-es-Salaam, he met Wilhelm Kunz, a missionary from the Bible School at Wiedenest. He wrote to Mr. Kunz about me. Mr. Kunz is Deputy Secretary of the Bible School, in charge of the missionary work of the school. Eventually I got in touch with Mr. Kunz and he welcomed me to visit the school.

Last year my brother-in-law, Sam, who lives next door with his wife and two children, and is a bus driver, decided to spend part of his annual holiday on a visit to Seefeld, a health resort in the Austrian Tyrol. Both he and his wife suggested Esther and I go with them, so that from Seefeld, I could run in to Wiedenest. We and they spent the first week of August in Seefeld. When we got there, however, I found that Wiedenest was too far away, and would probably take me about two days to go and return. As we were in Seefeld for only a week, I had to give up the idea, much to my disappointment, but I told Esther that we must try to do the trip direct from England by air, if not in 1977, then in 1978. However, we enjoyed that week in the beautiful Tyrolean Alps, and went on excursions to the famous Dolomites in Italy, Salzburg, etc.

After we returned, I wrote to Kitty about the trip, and how I had to give up on the idea of going to Wiedenest. Kitty and I have been keeping in touch with each other. I have no doubt that she and Ted loved each other very deeply, and although she is now married for the 3rd time, her love for Ted is not dead. A few weeks after I wrote to her, I was very surprised to receive a cheque from her for 100 sterling, to enable me to make the trip se Wiedenest! This was surely a token of the depth of her affection for me as Ted’s brother. I took her love-gift as a gift from the Lord. Both Esther and I went by air to Cologne on the 9th of July and stayed at the Bible School. Wiedenest is about 50 miles west of Cologne. Mr. Kunz picked us up at the airport.

Karl Nagel by Volbrecht Nagel’s grave

We spent a very happy week at the Bible School. The school itself was closed for the summer holidays, but they were having a retreat for parents and any others. It was a very happy atmosphere. Although we did not speak German, a few could speak a little English and so we managed. Wilhelm Kunz and his wife speak English well, and they certainly looked after us. I am enclosing a photo of me at father’s grave. The cemetery is next door to the Bible School. I met the widow, Frau Warnes, who knew father personally. She was about 25 at the time father died, and her husband was one of the directors of the school. When Father got the stroke, she used to visit him every day with her guitar and sing to him. She is now 82, but quite active and alert, and speaks English well. She has a visitor’s book in which there is our mother’s writing of the hymn “Blest be the tie that binds” and a verse of Scripture text in Malayalam. There are also entries concerning father’s burial. One is signed “W. Kocher”, and I can only presume that this is the Kocher who was in charge of the boys’ orphanage at Irinjalakuda. He was repatriated when the war broke out in August 1914, and repatriated when hostilities ceased. There was also an entry by “A. Bindewald” of Friedberg, near Stammheim. Frau Warnes said that the Bindewalds attended Father’s funeral because Father was an orphan and they took him under their care, and he was the one who led them both to the Lord, and it was out of gratitude for that, that they attended his funeral. There is also an entry in the visitor’s book in Father’s own handwriting, dated Berlin 10.6.14. The Bible School was in Berlin when the war broke out. After the war, the school moved to Wiedenest. Father, as you know, had moved to Switzerland in the meantime. When the war came to an end, Father went back to the Bible School at Wiedenest, because he was not given permission to return to India.

After we returned from Wiedenest there have been subsequent developments. Mr. Kunz remembered that a “Kurt Nagel” had once visited Wiedenest to see Father’s grave, so he wrote to him about me. This resulted in Kurt writing to me. The letter was in German, and I enclose a translation. It revealed our relatives in Germany. I sent a copy to Pauline, so that she could contact Kurt’s daughter, mentioned in the letter. Susanne visited Pauline on the 3rd, on her way to catch the plane back to Germany, and this established a good link there. I have since written to Kurt, giving him information about our family. I am now keen to visit our relatives there, and am looking to the Lord to help me accomplish this, as He did in the case of Wiedenest. Esther and I have decided to learn some German in the meanwhile, and have enrolled for evening classes in German at the Adult Training Centre here. It was not essential to know German when we visited Wiedenest, because Mr. and Mrs. Kunz both spoke English well, but it’s a different matter visiting the relatives! We are not likely to go till next year (D.V.), and this should give us time to speak the language reasonably well.

Esther, Karl, and Kurt Nagel

Have you any information about Father’s birth, marriage, going out to India, etc? I think he went out as a Lutheran Missionary, somewhere about 1890 and started in Cannanore. He left that mission and joined up with the Brethren at Kunnamkulam, where he was married. Then he went on to Parur, then British Cochin, where I was born, and ended up at Trichur. You were born at Parur, weren’t you? I would like to have whatever information you have, if any, as I want to write a short history, if I can.

And now for some family news. Pauline now has two daughters. Virginia was born on my birthday in 1975, so she will soon be two years old. The second, whom they have called Abigail, was born on the 10th March this year. We spent a week with them on our way to Wiedenest, and they very recently came and spent three days here. So Pauline has to give up all ideas of going back to teaching for the present, anyway. Andrew, who is now 27, is still unmarried. He lives close to Pauline.

Esther could be in better health than she is, but the basic affliction – angina – is always there. She gets pains, severe at times, generally in the back or in the chest. However, she manages to keep going with the Lord’s enabling. I am now having trouble with my left ear. My ear is “dead” and I have been wearing a hearing aid in the left one for a few years now. It has now “sprung a leak”, as it were, with a hole in the ear drum, and there is some oozing. The doctor has been watching it, and I may yet have to have a small operation. The other afflictions are still with me – diabetes, high blood pressure, and anaemia, but they are well under control, praise the Lord.

How many grandchildren have you now? The last time of census (!) it was Ellen 5 (Lorraine, Danny, Gary, Patricia, and Roger), Gottlob and Eva 1 (Jonathan), Konrad and Patricia 1 (David), Jessica and Alvy 2 (Rudy and Sabina). Have there been any additions? Please let’s have an up-t0-date list!

I am still in the Baptist church here. Praise God our pastor is one of the old type. He is now 64, so of course he was called to the ministry when quite young and has had considerable experience. His preaching is Christ centred, aimed at winning souls. He has an Indian daughter-in-law and an Anglo-Burman son-in-law. His first wife died and he married again, a missionary nurse from Zaire. We have had him for nearly 2 1/2 years now. Which church do you go to? And the others. There is certainly a slackening of “denominationalism” and more willingness to show the love of Christ to others who may not think quite as you do. It is nice to see from the signs of the times that the end of this age is rapidly drawing near to that wonderful day of rapture. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Hope Tedo and you are keeping well.

With love,

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