Christoph Wonneberger

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Christoph Wonneberger (r.) And Roland Jahn (for the book presentation and panel discussion in the Panitzsch church on March 30, 2014)

Christoph Wonneberger (born March 5, 1944 in Wiesa in the Erzgebirge ) is a Lutheran pastor i. R. From 1986 to the end of October 1989, he coordinated the daily “peace prayers” in Leipzig's Nikolaikirche . From these the Monday demonstrations and the Peaceful Revolution in autumn 1989 developed.


As the son of Erhard Wonneberger, Christoph Wonneberger comes from a Saxon pastor's family . In 1965 he obtained his skilled machinist qualification. During his theology studies at the church college and at the state university in Rostock , he briefly signed under pressure as an IM , but distanced himself in writing immediately after the legal proceedings. In 1967 he had unscrewed a youth club antenna as a youth prank. There is no report. Ordained in Leipzig in 1973 , he worked as a pastor in Leipzig-Möckern and Taucha until 1977 .

1977–1984: Dresden

From 1977 to 1984 he was pastor of the Dresden vineyard church community . Here he devoted himself to a. advising conscientious objectors . When the GDR government intensified the militarization of society in the early 1980s, he founded the initiative for a social peace service (SoFd) , a nationwide initiative against military service, within the non-governmental church peace movement . Numerous attempts at disciplining government agencies through official and unofficial influence on the Saxon church leadership followed his socio-political activities. In 1981 he was recorded by the GDR secret service Stasi as a " hostile-negative person ". The OV "provocateur" operational case was opened against him .

In 1982, as part of the SoFd initiative , Wonneberger proposed regular peace prayers in various churches in the GDR in order to develop a permanent location for non-violent resistance and thus establish a long-term contact point for oppositional forces. His suggestion also led to a group of military service opponents performing peace prayers in Leipzig's Nikolaikirche from September 1982 , which Wonneberger later took over coordination. He was inspired by the Political Night Prayers that were held in Cologne under the influence of the Vietnam War in 1968. They served as a model for the Monday peace prayers .

From 1985: Leipzig

In 1985 he became pastor of the evangelical Lukas community in the Leipzig district of Volkmarsdorf . The founding of the opposition working group on human rights brought him into further serious conflicts with state and church authorities since the beginning of 1987. These were precisely planned by the State Security as " operative dismantling measures " in the OV "Provokateur" , 1985 in the OV "Julius" and from 1986 in the OV "Lukas" through political-operational cooperation.

From 1986 Wonneberger coordinated the weekly prayers for peace in Leipzig's Nikolaikirche on behalf of the superintendent of the Leipzig-East church district . With this, Wonneberger enabled the opposition groups in Leipzig - u. a. Working group on human rights, working group on justice , working group on environmental protection, initiative group life, women for peace - alternately creating devotions and representing their political content. He also made it possible for oppositional songwriters of the Leipzig song scene to appear as an open song stage in his church.

In September 1988 Wonneberger was deposed by Superintendent Friedrich Magirius as coordinator of the prayers for peace at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. Magirius wrote: “Dear Brother Wonneberger […] We have prepared a new design for the prayers for peace for the next few weeks. For my part, I once again state that you are relieved of your previous task. "

Only after two months of intense protests could Wonneberger and organized Leipziger opposition - such as the Human Rights Working Group , the Working Group Justice , the initiative group life , the Working Group on Environmental Protection , the Leipzig group of Women for Peace - reach a compromise that these groups, the design of the Made peace prayers possible under the direction and responsibility of a pastor. In addition to Wonneberger, the groups were then supported by the Protestant pastors Klaus Kaden and Rolf-Michael Turek and the Catholic priest Hans-Friedrich Fischer .

In a report from June 1, 1989, Christoph Wonneberger from the GDR Ministry for State Security is counted among the "hard core" of his opponents:

“Around 600 people are assigned to the management bodies, while the so-called hard core a relatively small number of fanatical, from so-called Consciousness of mission, personal thirst for validity and the desire for political profiling by driven, often unteachable enemies of socialism. Approx. 60 people can be assigned to this category, including pastors EPPELMANN , TSCHICHE and WONNEBERGER as well as Gerd and Ulrike POPPE , Bärbel BOHLEY and Werner FISCHER ; the people RÜDDENKLAU , SCHULT , Dr. KLEIN and LIETZ . They are the main inspirers / organizers of underground political activity and, with their connections at home, to western countries and to anti-socialist forces in other socialist states, determine the specific content of the hostile activities of personal associations and their supraregional radius of action. "

- Ministry of State Security

In July 1989, Christoph Wonneberger and the Leipzig opposition groups organized the “Statt-Kirchentag” in the Lukaskirch parish after the groups had been excluded from helping to organize the Evangelical Church Congress in Leipzig by the church leadership .

Under his leadership, the Human Rights Working Group and the Justice Working Group were able to set up an opposition center in the vicarage of the Lukaskirche in Leipzig's Juliusstrasse from 1988 onwards. With support from the Federal Republic of Germany, books and reproduction machines could be brought into the country illegally. Numerous samizdat and leaflets were written and copied here. This also includes the famous appeal for non-violence of October 9, 1989, which already contains the emphasized sentence We are one people . It was signed by the Human Rights Working Group , the Justice Working Group and the Environmental Protection Working Group . The text called on the state "emergency services" and the people of Leipzig to abstain from all violence. The leaflet was printed on October 8th and 9th by Christoph Wonneberger, Thomas Rudolph , Frank Richter and Kathrin Walther in an edition of at least 25,000 copies and distributed by the members of the groups from midday in Leipzig and read out in the churches in the city center for Monday prayer .

Christoph Wonneberger helped shape the political content of the prayers for peace in Leipzig's Nikolaikirche. In September and October 1989 he maintained a “demo phone” with the Human Rights Working Group and the Justice Working Group in the Lukaskirchgemeinde and informed the Western journalists about the events in Leipzig every Monday after the Monday prayers. In doing so, he ensured that a broad public could find out about the arrests in Leipzig, the steadily growing crowds and the demonstrations. Thanks to the carefully developed network of the Human Rights Working Group and the Justice Working Group , Siegbert Schefke and Aram Radomski from the Berlin Environmental Library were able to film the tower of the Reformed Church , which means that the images of the October 9 demonstration reached the Western press. That same evening, Christopher Bliss Berger was in a live circuit an interview in the daily news of the ARD and reported to the world of the peaceful demonstration in Leipzig with about 70,000 participants.

The turning point during the Peaceful Revolution in 1989 and work since recovery

A severe cerebral infarction on October 30, 1989 made Wonneberger a "pastor without words". Healing and medical rehabilitation took many years. In 1991 Wonneberger was officially retired. He only reappeared politically in 2009.

On March 27, 2015, he gave a lecture on the international symposium "2015 Peace Korea" in Seoul ( South Korea ). His proposal for a bike ride along the demilitarized zone , ie along the border between North and South Korea, was accepted and implemented by the Korean partners. In October 2015 he was able to take part in the German delegation of former GDR civil rights activists to the International bikeathon along DMZ in Korea as part of the National Culture Festival for the peaceful unification of Korea . Wolfgang Templin remarked in his speech on democracy in the Nikolaikirche on October 9th, 2015: “It is a wonderful symbol when Christoph Wonneberger, Gisela Kallenbach , Oliver Kloss and other Leipzig former opposition members are on a bicycle tour along the north and Participate in the South Korean division. "


Christoph Wonneberger lives separately from his wife Ute Wonneberger. The couple, who met during Wonneberger's time in Dresden, had a son in Leipzig in 1987 and a daughter in 1989.

Honors (selection)

Award of the Saxon Order of Merit 2015 by Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich : Christoph Wonneberger, 2nd row, 2nd from right
Book presentation and panel discussion in the Panitzsch church on March 30, 2014: Book author Thomas Mayer, Roland Jahn, Christoph Wonneberger and moderator Heide Binder (from left)


  • Stephan Bickhardt : A peace service that has a future. After a conversation with Christoph Wonneberger. In: Stephan Bickhardt (Ed.): Traces. On the history of the peace movement in the GDR. Samizdat publication on the seminar Peace in Practice VI. radix-blätter, Berlin (Ost) 1988, pp. 32–35.
  • Thomas Mayer: Who doesn't give up. Christoph Wonneberger - a biography. ( PDF) Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-374-03733-9 ; Preface to the Korean edition.
  • Andreas Peter Pausch: Resist. Pastor Christoph Wonneberger. (Ed. By Uwe Schwabe on behalf of the Archive Citizens Movement Leipzig e.V.) Berlin, Metropol Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-86331-184-1 .
  • Thomas Rudolph , Oliver Kloss , Rainer Müller , Christoph Wonneberger (eds.): Way in the uprising. Chronicle of opposition and resistance in the GDR from August 1987 to December 1989. Volume 1, Araki, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-941848-17-7 .
  • Thomas Rudolph, Frank Wolfgang Sonntag, Peter Grimm (eds.): Way in the uprising. Chronicle of opposition and resistance in the GDR from August 1987 to December 1989. Vol. 2, Leipzig, Araki, 2017, ISBN 978-3-941848-27-6 .
  • Christian Dietrich, Uwe Schwabe: Friends and enemies. Documents on the prayers for peace in Leipzig between 1981 and October 9, 1989. Edited on behalf of the Archive Citizens Movement Leipzig e. V., Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 1994, ISBN 3-374-01551-4 ( ).
  • Ehrhart Neubert : History of the opposition in the GDR 1949–1989. Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 1997, ISBN 3-89331-294-3 .
  • Hermann Geyer: Nikolaikirche, Mondays at five. The political services of the turning point in Leipzig. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 978-3-534-18482-8 .
  • Gerold Hildebrand : Christoph Wonneberger. In: Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk , Tom Sello (ed.): For a free country with free people. Opposition and Resistance in Biographies and Photos. Robert Havemann Society, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-938857-02-1 , pp. 208-211.
  • Thomas Mayer: Heroes of the Peaceful Revolution: 18 portraits of pioneers from Leipzig. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2009, ISBN 978-3-374-02712-5 .
  • Peter Wensierski : Act instead of pray. In: Der Spiegel . No. 43, October 19, 2009, pp. 42–46 ( ).
  • Sebastian Engelbrecht: Church leadership in the GDR. A study on political communication in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony 1971 - 1989 . (Works on the history of the church and theology, Volume 6) (Zugl .: Leipzig, Univ., Diss., 1999) Leipzig, Evangelische Verlags-Anstalt, 2000, ISBN 3-374-01798-3 .
  • Peter Wensierski : The uncanny ease of the revolution. How a group of young people from Leipzig dared to rebel in the GDR. Munich, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2017, ISBN 978-3-421-04751-9 . [The Leipzig Initiativgruppe Leben (IGL) is at the center of this presentation , but people from the Human Rights Working Group were also included in the action.]
  • Sylvia Kabus : Nineteen eighty-nine. Psychogram of a city. Beucha, Sax Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-86729-041-8 , pp. 165-170, 173.

Web links

Commons : Christoph Wonneberger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

TV and radio documentation

Individual evidence

  1. Ralf Geißler : Christoph Wonneberger - The forgotten hero. (2009) In: MDR Figaro.
  2. One of the most important pastors of the Peaceful Revolution. In: LeipzigerInternetZeitung, accessed on April 10, 2014.
  3. Thomas Mayer: Who does not give up - Christoph Wonneberger, a biography. In: Series 14 of the Saxon LStU; Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-374-03733-9 .
  4. ^ Thilo Schmidt : German calls: Monday demonstration. Deutschlandradio Kultur, country report on September 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Robert Havemann Society: Peaceful Revolution 1989/90.
  6. ^ New Forum Leipzig: On the history of prayers for peace . 25 years of prayers for peace in St. Nikolai 2007.
  7. See section Stasi: Pastor denounced pastor. In: Focus magazine. No. 2 of January 9, 1995, p. 13.
  8. Friends and enemies. Documents on the prayers for peace in Leipzig between 1981 and October 9, 1989, Leipzig 1994 ; Document 66. See also Peter Wensierski: Action Instead of Prayer. In: Der Spiegel . No. 43, from October 19, 2009, p. 45.
  9. ^ Christian Dietrich: Case study Leipzig 1987–1989. The politically alternative groups in Leipzig before the revolution. Commission of Inquiry "Processing the History and Consequences of the SED Dictatorship in Germany", Volume VII / 1, 1995 and the document volume Friends and Enemies, Leipzig 1994
  10. ^ Ministry for State Security of the GDR: Report on the size and composition of the opposition and negative forces from June 1, 1989.
  11. ^ Leaflet for October 9, 1989: Appeal of the organized resistance to nonviolence .
  12. ^ Biographer Thomas Mayer
  13. Thomas Mayer: Who does not give up. Christoph Wonneberger - a biography. Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-374-03733-9 , p. 122.
  14. Christoph Wonneberger: Lecture at the peace conference in Seoul on March 27, 2015
  15. Report on the DMZ bicycle tour for the reunification of Korea , in: Magazine of the Federal Association of Koreans in Germany, No. 12 (2015), p. 35; Björn Meine: Leipziger on a peace trip in Korea , in: Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ) from January 11, 2016, p. 16.
  16. Wolfgang Templin : Speech on democracy in the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig on October 9, 2015 .
  17. ^ Bambi: Hollywood glamor in Potsdam-Babelsberg. MDR, 2009, archived from the original on November 29, 2009 ; Retrieved January 26, 2010 .
  18. See Solidarność Medal to Christoph Wonneberger .
  19. ^ German National Prize 2014 for the Leipzig Monday Demonstrations. (PDF) The German National Foundation, 2014, accessed on March 12, 2014 .
  20. Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig: “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media”: Prize winners 2014: Aram Radomski, Siegbert Schefke, Roland Jahn and Christoph Wonneberger. In: Archived from the original on November 9, 2016 ; Retrieved November 9, 2016 .
  21. Christoph Wonneberger honorary doctorate in Korea
  22. Awarded on June 26, 2015.
  23. See documentation of the honor in Wiesbaden