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FROM PRAYER TO DEMONSTRATION: The Neglected History of East German Churches in the 1980s

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By Kevin Stoda, Germany

During this 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, many in Germany are reevaluating the events of that age and reflecting on what it means in Germany and in the world today. This article focuses on two pastors involved in the Revolution of 1989/1990 in Eastern Germany

Both East Germans, Rainer Eppelmann and Markus Meckel have lived out some extremely interesting biographies.

Eppelmann, a former pastor, was active for decades in the church in East Germany and suffered for his beliefs and strong stances.

For example, Eppelman opposed the East German Communist states military draft in the 1960s and served time in jail for this. In 1990, however, he suddenly found himself appointed as Defense Minister for the very last East German government.

Eppelmann changed the name of the office as well—he changed it to the "Ministry of Defense and Disarmament". Eppelmann has since served in the parliament and for government for a United Germany several times over the past two decades. As far as my research can demonstrate, there has never been another government in history with a “Ministry of Defense and Disarmament”.

Similarly, Meckel, as a Protestant minister was very active in the peace movement, conducted under the sanctuaries of the East German churches in the 1970s and 1980s.  Meckel became East Germany’s last foreign minister (Secretary of State) in 1990.

In the meantime, Meckel has been active in the Socialist party (SPD) of Germany and busy running the Foundation for Comprehending the History of the East Germany Society (Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung der DDR-Staat). He also has led working groups to improve Polish and German cooperation and reconciliation for years.

I came across one of those now-prevalent 20th Anniversary (of the Wall Opening up) interviews with Meckel and Eppelman recently.

I think it is very important to hear these two gentlemen in their own words because the American academic publishing industry has really missed out a lot on good and rigorous research on what took place in East Germany between the 1950s and 1989, i.e. when Germany’s first peaceful revolution in history succeeded in deposing a despotic regime.


The title of the interview I read recently with Rainer Eppelmann and Markus Meckel was pulished in CHRISMON, a Christian monthly magazine.

The interview was entitled “Revolution of the Pastors”. The article came out in the May 2009 edition of the CHRISMON magazine.


The interview begins with typical “20th anniversary commemorative” questions for the 1989s, e.g. “Herr Meckel, could you have ever imagined that the East German (GDR) government would ever cease to exist?”

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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