Protestants in Communist East Germany : In the Storm of the World book cover
1st Edition

Protestants in Communist East Germany
In the Storm of the World

ISBN 9781032243337
Published December 13, 2021 by Routledge
218 Pages

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Book Description

This is the story of how the Protestants in the GDR struggled to survive while striving to put their theology into practice and remaining true to their vision of what the role of the church should be - a 'church for others' as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it. Having taken the reader from the foundation of the GDR, through the peaceful revolution, to the unification of Germany, the story ends with some reflections on the church's past as well as on the challenges it faces in present-day Europe. Protestants in Communist East Germany makes a unique contribution to existing literature by drawing not only on written sources but on a series of first-hand interviews with theologians, pastors and lay people of different ages whose experiences, views and analyses bring the story to life. The East German church's relationship to the state will probably always remain controversial and the vision for a different socialism in the GDR espoused by those involved in the peaceful revolution may now be considered illusory. Nevertheless, many of the issues raised by the Protestants in the GDR remain as vital challenges to the churches in Europe today. Foreword by Paul Oestreicher.

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Protestants in Communist East Germany

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Wendy R. Tyndale has worked with the Catholic Diocese of San Marcos in Guatemala; was Coordinator and then Researcher for the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD); represented Christian Aid based in Guatemala; was Head of Christian Aid's Latin America Department based in London; worked as an assistant to a member of the German Parliament and as a journalist in Bonn; and, having lived in Chile before the military coup of 1973, set up, with others, the Chile Committee for Human Rights in the UK.


'We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to East German Protestantism for the role it played in the fall of the Berlin Wall and of communism in 1989. By forming a whole people in the theory and practice of democratic discussion and of peaceful protest, it saved Germany from civil war and Europe, indeed the whole world, from a potential Third World War. That a revolution could occur without violence is a miracle of discipleship to the Prince of Peace, which is rapidly being forgotten and ought to be remembered. Wendy R. Tyndale's admirable and magisterial book is based on a mastery of written sources supplemented by interviews with those actually involved in this epic but everyday struggle. Covering the period from the end of the Second World War with shrewd analysis of both Church and State and of the necessary tensions between ideology and faith, this is a genuinely fresh and original contribution to the field. Tyndale conveys something of what life was actually like both for church leaders and also for ordinary church members and non-members alike under 'real existing socialism' in its most consistently Stalinist form. Shortly after the revolution, however, the masses of people who had flocked to the Prayers for Peace, which had undergirded the demonstrations, ceased to go to church. Once they had reached their destination, the passengers got off the bus; and East Germany is now among the most secularized places in Europe. This book shows how and why that happened. There are lessons here for us all.' John Arnold, Dean Emeritus of Durham, UK and formerly President of the Conference of European Churches 'Wendy R. Tyndale has written an important book about a period in the history of the Church which is not often remembered now. With precision and in an accessible style she charts the development of Protestant Christianity in the GDR from the aftermath of the Second World War to the peaceful revolution of 1989 and into reunited Germany. The story she narrates is on