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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The way we were: 1930s

Photo of surgery

Theodore G. ("Papa") Braun, a medical doctor and missionary to Papua New Guinea, performs an operation. Braun began his service in March 1930. In Finschhafen he met Hattie Engeling, a nurse there since 1924. They married in 1932.

In December 1942, Japanese soldiers who had recently occupied Madang, Papua New Guinea, imprisoned all mission workers. When Allied forces pushed back the Japanese, the missionaries were put on a ship traveling to Hollandia. The prisoners were forced to remain on the open decks while an Allied plane strafed the ship, killing 40 missionaries and badly injuring another 40. Wounded in the shoulder, Braun still managed to care for other mission workers, including amputating the leg of a Roman Catholic priest and treating a severed jugular vein.

Released in 1944, the Brauns returned to Papua New Guinea in 1946 and rebuilt the mission's medical services. They retired in 1969. Theodore died in 1980, and Hattie in 1984.


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