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Erich Aurich (1899-????)
Karsten Wilke, June 1, 2020

Basic Biographical Data
Date of birth: January 5, 1899; Nationality: German, Saxon.

Spouse: Agathe Aurich, born on October 20, 1901; Nationality: German, Saxon.

Children: a daughter, born in Shanghai on June 17, 1928.

Education: six years at Friedensau Missionary Seminary, Germany.

Siblings: Yes, though not clear how many. One brother died at an early age of 7.

Major service contributions according to the Adventist Yearbooks:
1926-1928 – Missionary Licentiate in the Brandenburg Conference, Germany
1929 – Missionary Licentiate of the Far Eastern Division
1930-1931 – Minister and Executive Committee member of the Manchurian Union Mission
1932 – Permanent return to Germany

Erich Aurich was a German Adventist missionary in China. His major service focused on Manchuria.

Early Years
Aurich was born on January 5, 1899 in Saxony, Germany.1  About his family background we don`t know much, just that he have had siblings, while one brother died early in an age of 7 years. 

Aurich married Agathe, born October 20, 1901, a professional infant nurse with state diploma and graduate of the Friedensau Missionary Seminary.2  She also worked as a governess in a psychopathic institution. Aurich`s originally profession was mechanic and electrician. Four and half years he worked in that business before he attended Friedensau Missionary Seminary for full six years, from 1919 to 1925. There he studied Greek and Latin, as well as the English language. Both Erich and Agathe had completed the “Red Cross Course”.3 

Began Denominational Work
After graduation in 1925 Aurich became an evangelist for three years in the Brandenburg Conference, Germany. His last place of service in Germany was Senftenberg before he and his pregnant wife Agathe left Germany for China.

According to their physical examination form, Erich and Agathe Aurich both suffered under a lightly tremor in their fingers, and both were very small in statute. Aurich`s hight was 163 cm, while his wife was just a centimeter shorter. Her teethes were not very healthy.4  However they were accepted by the Mission Board. The General Conference confirmed their appointment to China on January 5, 1928.5 

Walter K. Ising appointed Erch Aurich and Karl Schroeter together. They were to be sent out as missionaries to China. According to Ising both were at the same level of evangelistic skills, but nevertheless the Division Council voted to ordain just Schroeter before they would leave for China. This exclusion raised Aurich`s opposition. He wanted to be ordained as well.6  Later, both were sent out without ordination;7  and the China Division had to ordain them in 1930.8 

In China
On February 5, 1928 the Aurichs together with the Schroeters left Hamburg aboard of the Adolf von Baeyer for Shanghai China. It was expected they would arrive on March 24.9  But they reached their destitution not before April 9, 1928.10 

The European Adventists were proud to have two more missionaries in China and celebrate their departure in advance in their Quarterly Review of 1927.11  The Far Eastern Outlook informed its English readers in February 1928 and stressed that Aurich as well as Schroeter “have some years of experience in soul-winning work”.12  This increased the expectations for them as another article revealed: “We rejoice in coming of these strong workers who have had considerable experiences in Germany”.13 

Immediately after their arrival, the Aurichs entered the Shanghai School of Mandarin Studies in the 31 Ningkuo Road, Shanghai. But Agathe Aurich`s language studies were promptly interrupted, because on June 17, 1928 she gave birth to a daughter.14 

On May 15, 1929 after a year spent in language school Aurich was appointed to his first and last working field in China – Mukden in Manchuria (today Shenyang, Liaoning Province).15 

In spring of 1930 Aurich received the task to open a new mission station in Newchwang (Yingkou, Liaonian Province). In an article of September 7, 1930 in Far Eastern Division Outlook, he reported about eight individuals of a former baptism in Mukden, but nothing about his own baptisms in Newchwang (Yingkou). This means he could not baptize anyone in his new place of work so far. He assured in this article that he would pray for fruits of his labor.16 

End of Denominational Work
The Adventist church administrators have had a little more patience with Aurich`s “lack of success”. But on April 8, 1931 the former Division president Henry W. Miller himself wrote a letter to him, after Aurich received already word from the Manchurian Union and the secretary of the division about his “release” from duties. Miller expressed a dissatisfaction with Aurich`s situation – obviously the meager baptismal numbers. Miller assured they would have searched for an alternative call in another Chinese Union, but this sounds more or less as an alibi. For Miller did not conceal from Aurich the financial problems of the new formed China Division in the time of the Great Depression. They had to cut jobs and they started with individuals they are not satisfied with. Aurich`s baptismal numbers were too small – as Miller wrote: “the results of your work have not been as some had hoped”.17  Aurich seemed to have resisted to this decision with the argument to have been in China just for a very short while. However, in additional to his problems with small number of baptisms, he also has had a “critical attitude” toward the leader in his field, at least in the eyes of some administrators. It seemed that Aurich wanted to remain in China, but not in the Manchurian Union with the superiors he has had problems with. Miller interpreted this in a way that it was not clear to the Division, whether Aurich wanted to remain in China at all.18
In 1932 Erich Aurich was listed as living in the Regensburger Strasse 22, Berlin back in Germany, but without a position.19  From 1933 onward his name was not listed any longer in the Adventist Yearbooks. At this time, he was a young man in an age of 32 or 33 years old. It may be reasonably concluded that he had left church service and returned back to his former profession.

As an Adventist missionary in China Aurich did not play a major role, but his case shows how important baptismal numbers must have been for the administrators of the Adventist church, and under what high existential pressure employees worked for the church.

Figure 1: Agathe and Erich Aurich, 1927.20