Lutheran pastor who helped topple East German communism to retire

January 14, 2008

Leipzig protest march on October 9, 1989The peaceful revolution that toppled East German communism had roots going back to a prayer. The weekly peace prayer meetings started in 1982 in Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche (Church of St. Nicholas) became a rallying point for dissidents later in the decade. By September 1989, participants leaving the church defied the Stasi and arrest threats to march publicly against the government. On October 9, the protesters feared a “Chinese solution” — i.e. a bloodbath like the one in Beijing the previous summer — but marched anyway out of the Lutheran church and around the city. When the massed security forces did not fire on the marchers, who by then numbered 70,000, the protest movement began to lose its fear. The opening of the Berlin Wall followed only a few weeks later.

Christian Führer has just told the New York Times he will step down in March as pastor of the Nikolaikirche when he reaches 65. Führer was a co-organiser of the peace prayers during the 1980s and the protest marches in 1989. He was also a courageous source for us journalists trying to cover the protests there in September and October of that year. The Stasi had closed Leipzig off to foreign reporters and would turn us away on the autobahn before we could even reach the city. Führer took calls from our East Berlin office on his crackling (and bugged) phone line and kept us informed of the growing numbers of participants at his prayer services, the arrests outside his church and the marchers who succeeded in protesting publicly.

Christian Führer, 2 May 2006/Fabrizio BenschLeipzig opened up after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, but plainclothes Stasi agents still haunted the meetings and marches. Courage outweighed fear at a prayer service I attended early that December, but Führer still ended it with an appeal to the participants not to let themselves be provoked into violence. They streamed out and marched around the city, calling for reunification with West Germany.

Several of the Protestant pastors active in the protests went on to political careers in reunited Germany. Führer stayed at his church, campaigning for the unemployed, fighting neo-Nazis and opposing the Iraq war. His last battle was to have a German Unity Monument located in Leipzig. The German parliament voted last November to build it in Berlin.


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[…] Here is an interesting story about a Lutheran pastor who played a key role in the overthrow of communism in East Germany. That country, with its bloody and seemingly omnipresent secret police, the Stasi, was probably more hard-core than the former Soviet Union. The Reuters story about Rev. Christian Fuhrer was occasioned by his recent retirement from his congregation. […]

Posted by The Pastor who helped topple communism in East Germany — Cranach: The Blog of Veith | Report as abusive

Dear Brother In Christ

Glory to God

. My name is Pr.Timothy, doing village and church Ministry in a small rural village a part of Tamil Nadu, India. By the grace of God and His blessings, He is helping us to run and maintain the church and family.

Brother, I have started “Bible School”, the school name is “Emmanuel Bible School”. Please pray that God helps us to meet with the needs of the students and teachers teaching in the school.

A small prayer request – kindly pray that we shall have our own church building and many many lost souls to come under the Kingdom of God. So please include our prayer request with your daily prayers.

We too shall pray for you and your ministry. May God use you more richly in His Service and ministry. God Bless You.

Thank you once again for your prayers. With lots of prayers, wishes and love.

Posted by timothy | Report as abusive

In the spirit of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and Laszlo Tokes.

Posted by David Rising | Report as abusive