The New International Encyclopædia/Fliedner, Theodor

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FLIEDNER, flēt'nẽr, Theodor (1800-64). A German philanthropist. He was born at Eppstein, Nassau, the son of a clergyman, and after studying at the universities of Giessen and Göttingen, became pastor of a small church at Kaiserswerth. He made a tour through Germany, Holland, and England to raise funds in behalf of his poor parish, and his success suggested to him the idea of his benevolent institutions, and especially prison reform. The German prisons were then in a very bad state; but those interested in their improvement banded together, and in 1826 the first Society for Prison Reform of Germany was founded. Fliedner realized that the first step must be toward looking after the prisoners on their release, and accordingly, in 1833, he opened at Kaiserswerth a refuge for discharged female convicts. To take care of the sick and poor, a hospital was built and a body of women trained for nursing. King Frederick William IV. of Prussia, and his Queen, Elizabeth, gave Fliedner their support, and founded a Christian hospital with deaconesses at Berlin. His last years were spent founding ‘mother houses’ in Europe, America, and the East, and he wore out his life in his work. Fliedner paid no attention to the great controversies that were disturbing the German Church, but gave his whole attention to well-directed efforts for the good of the poor and suffering. The sterner features of his character were relieved by a humor that had full play in his intercourse with the children of his schools. Consult Winkworth, Life of Pastor Fliedner of Kaiserswerth (trans., London, 1867).