Otto and Gertrud Mörike

Born the son of a pastor in Dürrwangen (Balingen District, now the Zollernalb District) on April 7, 1897, Otto Mörike was distantly related to the Swabian poet Eduard Mörike. His family moved to Ruit near Esslingen when he was five. He attended the church boarding schools in Maulbronn and Blaubeuren from 1911 until his high school graduation. In 1915, Mörike volunteered to fight in the war but his initial euphoria was soon followed by disenchantment. After studying theology (1919–1922), he interned, last of all in Oberboihingen where he met Gertrud Lörcher, daughter of a pastor. The couple married when he began serving his first parish in Oppelsbohm in 1926.

Gertrud Lörcher was born in Cleebronn on July 22, 1904. After completing elementary school, she attended the Evangelical Boarding School for Young Ladies in Königsfeld and subsequently helped her father for four years as a substitute organist and with congregational work. Her daughter Dora was born in 1926, another daughter Irmela in 1927 and her son Frieder in 1929. They were followed by Magdalena (1934), Ursel (1938) and Elisabeth (1945) and a foster son Walter, born in 1929. Despite this horde of children, the two Mörikes were active in congregational work.

Initially enthusiastic about the “völkisch awakening” propagated by the National Socialists after their seizure of power, Otto Mörike soon joined in the church’s internal struggle against the “German Christians” and their attempt to coordinate the regional church of Württemberg with the Nazi regime. He was a member of the Council of Brethren of the Evangelical Confessional Fellowship in Württemberg and was soon placed under constant surveillance by the Gestapo, especially whenever he was preaching. In 1935, Mörike changed to the municipal parish of Kirchheim unter Teck. In the wake of the Mörikes’ protest of Hitler’s politics on election day, April 10, 1938, Otto Mörike was sentenced to ten months of prison but placed on probation and forcibly transferred to the parish of Weissach-Flacht. Jews on the run were able to take refuge in the parsonage in Flacht from time to time despite stepped up surveillance by the Gestapo. Otto Mörike was a pastor in Stuttgart-Weilimdorf from 1947 to 1953 and the superintendent in Weinsberg from 1953 until he entered retirement in 1959.

Otto Mörike died on June 9, 1978 in Schorndorf. His wife Gertrud died on December 24, 1982.

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