Gottfried Müller (1914-2009)

This is an abbreviated version. If you are interested in more details you will find a more elaborate one in the pdf at the end of this page.

  • 10. April 1914 Gottfried Johannes Müller was born in the small Swabian village Gschwend.
  • 1920 – 1935 He attended the local school and was trained in a grocery following first working experiences.
  • 1935/36 First journey to the Orient: He travelled to the Orient by land and by sea. His first book ‘Breaking into Secluded Kurdistan’, the travelogue of this first journey to the Orient, was published in 1937 by Philadelphia Reutlingen.
  • 1937/38 Military service
  • 1939/40 He was a salesman in Vienna and a horseman in the traditional cavalry regiment “Hoch- und Deutschmeister”. In the meantime, World War II broke out and he was drafted to serve in France.
  • 1940 – 1942 Stationed in Reichenbach/ Vogtland, he worked as an instructor for warfare in Russia, and later for the Stalingrad campaign. In between times, he was trained by the German Air Force.
  • 1942 – 1948 ‘Operation Mammut’ -Second journey to the orient:During the war, he attempted to conquer oil fields for the German army with the help of the Kurds. His secret mission was betrayed. He and his friend were taken prisoner by British and Iraqi forces – he was tortured and sentenced to death, but eventually escaped.He spent one year in the death cell where he contemplated life and death. This was his inspiration to later found SALEM. He described these events in his book ‘In the Burning Orient’ which was first published in 1959.
  • 1948 – 1950 After the war was over, he was transferred to the British internment camp Hamburg-Neuengamme in 1947 and later to Camp Augsburg. He was released in 1948 and married his first wife Susanne Firgau. They had two sons: Amadé and Alexander.
  • 1951 – 1957 He became more distanced from the idea of making money. His marriage had begun to suffer from his continued social commitment and both he and his wife separated, eventually divorcing in the 1960s.
  • 16.09.1957 Together with friends, he founded the Brotherhood SALEM as a registered association in Stuttgart-Leonberg, Germany. An SOS-SALEM emergency service was opened in the red-light district of Stuttgart, near the Leonhard church. There, the homeless and jobless, ex-convicts and prostitutes could find shelter, a hot meal and help.
  • 1958/59 New homeless shelters were created in Berlin, Nürnberg, München, Karlsruhe and Frankfurt.
  • 1960 – 1963 These years were marked by accusations and libels. Documents were confiscated so that SALEM was no longer able to collect donations and faced complete financial ruin. Several trials were held at the district court in Stuttgart. He won but only shortly after, the public prosecuter’s office in Stuttgart raised an objection which resulted in a retrial at the Federal Court of Justice.
  • 1964 In the trial at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe Gottfried Müller and SALEM were found not guilty.
  • 1964 – 1966 At this time, he was keen to know why so many ex-convicts re-offended. He asked many of them and they told him ‘We didn’t have a happy childhood, no happy home’. Realising that he had to tackle the problem at its root, he started the first SALEM children’s homes in Neukeferloh, Starnberg, Wartaweil, Pasing, Königsdorf, Fürth in Bavaria, Postbauer near Nürnberg and Königshofen, travelling between the towns.
  • 1968 The Brotherhood SALEM was transformed into a non-profit limited company to meet the requirements of the growing SALEM vision.
  • 1969 All the individual SALEM children’s homes were moved to Stadtsteinach/ Bavaria in the Franconian Forest. He was now able to realise the idea of a SALEM children’s village.
  • 1973 He married Ursula Schweizer who had been working for SALEM as a children’s nurse since 1963. They later had two sons, Samuel and Nathan.
  • 1969 – 2006 During these years, Gottfried Müller was involved in many countries of the world, with Stadtsteinach at the centre of his activities. He journeyed several times to Israel, endeavouring to create the Orr Shalom children’s homes for Jewish and Arabic children.
  • Among his primary concerns were his travels to Africa, to countries like Uganda, Somalia, Namibia and Togo where he began children’s villages and other projects. The USA, Colombia, the better part of Europe, Taiwan and Russia were also on his travel schedule. His last journeys led him to Togo/ West Africa, at the age of 84, and to Königsberg in Russia, then 89 years old.
  • 26.09.2009 Gottfried Müller died after a long and fulfilled life in the bosom of his family, at the age of 95 years.
  • In 1995, his son Samuel started working for SALEM and became the Managing Director in 1999. His aim is to run SALEM according to his father’s ideas. Ursula Müller as well as many longterm employees, donors and supporters remain true to SALEM to the present day.

Further Information

About Gottfried Mueller

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