Anne and Harold Buller
Photo courtesy of Anne Buller

Anne and Harold Buller embarked on an MCC service term in 1948. They helped establish a neighboorhood center in Berlin that is still flourishing today.

In September 1948, Anne and Harold Buller sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to serve with MCC in Europe. After several months, they were assigned to Kreuzberg, Berlin in Germany to establish a neighborhood center to help people recovering from World War II. 

“We were two inexperienced young people, untrained in this type of work, but ready and willing to do what we could,” remembers Anne. 

The goals of the center were to not only help alleviate poor living conditions, but also to encourage various political parties to work together toward a common goal. 

According to Anne, the government choose MCC to help with the project because it was “already recognized as being without prejudice in its relief activities and could be depended up on to remain that way.”

After frequent meetings and a drawn-out search to secure an adquate building in a war-torn city, the neighborhood center opened in August 1949. Originally named “Nachbarschaftsheim Kreuzberg,” it is now called “Nachbarschaftshaus.”

Last year, Anne and a friend were sharing stories about their life journeys. Naturally, part of Anne’s reminiscing included the three years she and Harold spent with MCC in Germany. 

“We often wondered what happened to the neighborhood center we had established in Berlin,” said Anne, who lives in Bluffton, Ohio, and attends First Mennonite Church. “I typed it in Google, and to my amazement it revealed an active program patterned after the very principles we had established way back in 1949.”

This discovery led Anne to make contact, where she learned that they are preparing to celebrate the center’s 60th anniversary. (Local German organizations took over ownership from MCC in 1955.) Anne, along with her children and grandchildren, plans to attend the celebration several weeks after her 90th birthday. 

The center still offer things like kindergarten classes, recreational activities, church services, craft groups and English classes. 

“Little did we realize that 65 years later the seeds that were planted by MCC workers would result in a sturdy tree, bearing nourishing fruit for the entire neighborhood for years to come!” said Anne.