Friedrich Schorlemmer
Friedrich Schorlemmer is a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Protestant theologian. He was a prominent member of the civil rights movement in the German Democratic Republic and has continued to take part in politics after German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 in 1990.

Early years and professional career

Born in Wittenberge on the river Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

, Friedrich Schorlemmer grew up in the small town of Werben in the region of Altmark
The Altmark is a historic region in Germany, comprising the northern third of Saxony-Anhalt. As the initial territory of the Brandenburg margraves, it is sometimes referred to as the "Cradle of Prussia", as by Otto von Bismarck, a native from Schönhausen near Stendal.- Geography :The Altmark is...

, just south of it. The son of a Protestant minister was not allowed by the East German authorities to take the exam sat a normal secondary state school, but he passed his at an adult education centre. As a pacifist, he refused to do military service. From 1962 to 1967 he studied theology at Martin-Luther University
University of Halle-Wittenberg
The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg , also referred to as MLU, is a public, research-oriented university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg within Saxony-Anhalt, Germany...

 in Halle
Halle, Saxony-Anhalt
Halle is the largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is also called Halle an der Saale in order to distinguish it from the town of Halle in North Rhine-Westphalia...

. Then, he was a supervisor of studies in a hall of residence and a curate in Halle West. After his ordination in 1970, he worked as a minister in charge of young people and especially students in Merseburg
Merseburg is a town in the south of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on the river Saale, approx. 14 km south of Halle . It is the capital of the Saalekreis district. It had a diocese founded by Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg....

. In 1978, he became a lecturer at the Protestant Preachers' Seminary in Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

 and also a preacher at All Saints' Church
All Saints' Church, Wittenberg
All Saints' Church, commonly referred to as Schlosskirche, meaning "Castle Church" — to distinguish it from the "town church", the Stadtkirche of St. Mary — and sometimes known as the Reformation Memorial Church, is a Lutheran church in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany...

 (Schlosskirche, "Castle Church") there, which is closely associated with Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and his 95 Theses. Finally, from 1992 until his retirement in December 2007, he was Head of Studies at the Protestant Academy of Saxony-Anhalt in Wittenberg.

Schorlemmer was a member of the Protestant synods of Saxony and of East Germany.


When, in 1968, Alexander Dubček
Alexander Dubcek
Alexander Dubček , also known as Dikita, was a Slovak politician and briefly leader of Czechoslovakia , famous for his attempt to reform the communist regime during the Prague Spring...

 tried to reform communism in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 in the Prague Spring
Prague Spring
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

, Schorlemmer and his friends not only sympathized with that development but also spread information about it. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked for environmental, human rights and peace groups. The department "Political Underground" of the State Security Service (Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

) put him under observation. He was responsible for a symbolical act at the Protestant Church Congress (Kirchentag) in Wittenberg on September 24, 1983, in which a sword was turned into a ploughshare by Stefan Nau, a local blacksmith. The State Security Service did not interfere because the future West German President Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard Karl Freiherr von Weizsäcker , known as Richard von Weizsäcker, is a German politician . He served as Governing Mayor of West Berlin from 1981 to 1984, and as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1984 to 1994...

, who was then Mayor of West Berlin, attended the Congress as a representative of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany, and the Western media reported about it.

In 1988, Schorlemmer's Wittenberg peace group presented twenty theses at the Church Congress in Halle, demanding more freedom.

On August 21, 1989, Friedrich Schorlemmer was among the founders of a group called Democratic Awakening
Democratic Awakening
Democratic Awakening was an East German opposition political movement. It was founded in October 1989, based on existing politically active church groups. Founding members included Wolfgang Schnur, Friedrich Schorlemmer, Rainer Eppelmann, Günter Nooke and Thomas Welz. The organisation was...

 (Demokratischer Aufbruch) in Dresden. However, when this group had become a political party in December 1989, Wolfgang Schnur (who was later to be found out to have been a collaborator of the Stasi) and Rainer Eppelmann
Rainer Eppelmann
Rainer Eppelmann , is a German politician. Known for his opposition in the German Democratic Republic, he became Minister for Disarmament and Defense in the last cabinet. He is now a member of the CDU....

 increasingly worked together with the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (East Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany ) was an East German political party founded in 1945. It was part of the National Front with the Socialist Unity Party of Germany until 1989....

, Schorlemmer and some other members left it. Schorlemmer joined the East German Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 in the beginning of 1989.
The largest mass meeting in the history of the GDR took place on Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin, near the Fernsehturm. Berliners often call it simply Alex, referring to a larger neighborhood stretching from Mollstraße in the northeast to Spandauer Straße and the City Hall in the southwest.-Early...

 (Alexander Square) in East Berlin on November 4, 1989. Many East Germans were no longer prepared to accept the dictatorship of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 (SED). It was a dangerous situation, with the possibility of a clash between the demonstrators and armed forces. One of the speakers at the Alexanderplatz demonstration
Alexanderplatz demonstration
The Alexanderplatz demonstration was a demonstration for political reforms and against the government of the German Democratic Republic on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 4 November 1989...

 was Friedrich Schorlemmer. He called for change and a new beginning, but he also pleaded for nonviolence.

After the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 had been opened on November 9, 1989, a lot of people left East Germany. Schorlemmer and others published a passionate appeal to stay and build up a new and better kind of society there: Für unser Land ("For our country"). Still, the majority of East Germans supported parties like the CDU
Christian Democratic Union (East Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany ) was an East German political party founded in 1945. It was part of the National Front with the Socialist Unity Party of Germany until 1989....

 in the "Alliance for Germany
Alliance for Germany
The Alliance for Germany was an opposition coalition in East Germany. It was formed on 5 February 1990 in Berlin to stand in the East-German Volkskammer elections. It consisted of the Christian Democratic Union, Democratic Awakening and the German Social Union...

" (Allianz für Deutschland), which stood for quick re-unification with West Germany. Unification came on October 3, 1990.

Schorlemmer remained politically active. He was leader of the SPD in Wittenberg town council from 1990 to 1994. He is chairman of the Willy Brandt Society (Willy-Brandt-Kreis). He is one of the editors of the journal Der Freitag ("Friday"; a weekly with a daily online edition) and of the monthly Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik. As a member of the German centre of International PEN
International PEN
PEN International , the worldwide association of writers, was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere....

, the association of writers, he was among the authors of an open letter in 2004 that asked Muslim intellectuals to protest against international terrorism. He joined the German Commission for UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

  and the BUND, an organization for the protection of nature and the environment. In 2009, he joined ATTAC
Association pour la Taxation des Transactions pour l'Aide aux Citoyens
The Association pour la taxation des transactions financières et pour l'action citoyenne is an activist organization originally created for promoting the establishment of a tax on foreign exchange transactions.-Background:Originally a single-issue movement demanding the...

, the network of globalization critics. Also, he was one of the founders of the Institut Solidarische Moderne in January 2010.

Schorlemmer spoke out against the wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

Friedrich Schorlemmer was awarded the Carl von Ossietsky Medal of the International League for Human Rights in 1989, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1993, an honorary doctorate by Concordia University in Austin (Texas) in 2002, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009.

He has published numerous books, essays, speeches and sermons.
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