Feb 272019
The Ecumenical Assembly in the GDR 1989 against the Background of Global Dangers 2019

German Website

Thirty years after the beginning of the Autumn Revolution, thirty years after the fall of the Wall, thirty years after the end of the GDR, successes and failures in the German unification process are finally being openly debated.

We remember the Ecumenical Assembly in the GDR, which ended thirty years ago, on 30 April 1989, and with its demands for democratic reforms gave essential impulses for the peaceful revolution in autumn 89. The Ecumenical Assembly thought beyond the GDR when it discussed justice, peace and the integrity of creation as a commitment. It was thus part of a worldwide movement of awakening that addressed the survival questions of mankind. As a „community of action“ of churches and Christian communities in the GDR, it became a model of Christian world responsibility, transcending confessional divisions.

Thirty years later: The man-made problems of the global world – poverty, hunger, exploitation, climate change, flight, violence and war – remain unsolved. In 2019 they will be many times more complex, threatening and difficult to deal with politically. The time gap to 1989 and the subsequent change of system forbid to simply transfer the answers of the Ecumenical Assembly of 1989 to the situation of 2019. But it must be asked whether the worsening global survival crises do not challenge a new appreciation of the basic beliefs of the 1989 Ecumenical Assembly.

The termination by the USA and Russia of the 1987 INF Treaty on the disarmament of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe by the USA and Russia is currently calling into question everything that has been achieved to date through a policy of détente and cooperative security. The treaty was a key to the success of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 and to the road to German state unity in 1990. There is now reason to fear a new arms race with medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe and worldwide. The current balanced structure of disarmament treaties threatens to break apart. Politicians are already talking about the stationing of new nuclear weapons. In this dangerous situation for Europe the churches must speak with one voice and take a stand against a new nuclear arms race.

The Ecumenical Assembly in 1988/89 was a response to the signs of the times. Their basic assumptions correspond with decades of learning experience of the ecumenical movement. They followed Jesus‘ call to repentance, „Repent and believe in the gospel“. Therefore, the assembly was not „outdated“ when the beginning democratization of the GDR in 1990 was overshadowed by a change of system. Meanwhile, more and more people are asking themselves

People in the New Federal States, whether their immigration into the neoliberal capitalism of the Federal Republic could have been the goal of this non-violent revolution. The ever widening gap in our society between winners and losers, which makes some poor and others richer and richer, is a scandal, even if it is concealed with the label „market-conform democracy“. The poison of populism and nationalism is spreading. We cannot praise the achievements of freedom without naming their aberrations. The conclusion about German unification would be more friendly if it were accompanied by real social renewal, more partnership at eye level, equal opportunities and participation. In fact, in 1990 almost everything changed in the East and almost nothing in the West. Still not fulfilled is the promise to replace the Basic Law by a constitution „which was decided by the German people in free decision“ (Art.146 GG).

We are committed to ensuring that the three „priority options“ of 1989 – for justice, peace and the integrity of creation – become building blocks of a social, ecological and ethical transformation of politics, economy and society in Europe and worldwide. Civil peace policy and non-military security policy must be the yardstick and means for working on Europe’s future. That is why we support the appeal of 74 organisations and institutions from 9 European countries to the Members of the European Parliament „Save the Peace Project Europe. For peace. For human rights. For Europe“ of 4 February 2019 (https://www.forumzfd.de/en). „The promotion of peace and human rights threatens to fall victim to the defense against migration and flight.“ The call „Save the peace project Europe“ corresponds today to the „ecumenical peace service“ to which the churches in the GDR came together and called in the upheaval of Europe. Remembering this means reaffirming the promise of the future at that time in today’s and tomorrow’s changing Europe.

February 2019

Almuth Berger, Berlin; Annette Berger, Magdeburg-Pechau; Magdalene Bußmann, Essen; Volkmar Deile, Berlin; Christoph Demke, Berlin; Hans-Joachim Döring, Magdeburg-Pechau; Ludwig Drees, Magdeburg; Heino Falcke, Erfurt; Hans-Jürgen Fischbeck, Berlin; Ulrich Frey, Bad Honnef; Jochen Garstecki, Magdeburg; Renate Höppner, Magdeburg; Heiko Lietz, Schwerin; Norbert Mette, Münster; Ruth Misselwitz, Berlin; Hans Misselwitz; Axel Noack, Halle; Elisabeth Raiser, Berlin; Konrad Raiser, Berlin; Gerhard Rein, Berlin; Gudrun Rein, Berlin; Frank Richter, Meissen; Friedrich Schorlemmer, Wittenberg; Elfriede Stauss, Berlin; Christoph Stier, Rostock; Heinz-Günter Stobbe, Münster; Andreas Zumach, Geneva.

Translation: DeepL