Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia

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St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz
Vaulted ceiling

The Evangelical Church of the Silesian Oberlausitz (EKSOL) was a Uniate Evangelical Lutheran Church , the parishes included in the Silesian Oberlausitz. Effective January 1, 2004, EKsOL merged with the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg to form the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO).

The EKsOL had its seat in Görlitz and recently around 70,000 parishioners in 72 parishes. The bishop's church was the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz.


Starting with Protestant sermons in Görlitz in 1521, the Reformation in eastern Upper Lusatia finally prevailed over the next three decades. Due to the reservations of the sovereigns at the time, the Catholic Bohemian kings from the House of Habsburg, no regional church was established in Upper Lusatia. Rather, the church regiment lay with the individual noble or city church patrons.

In neighboring Silesia, the Protestant denomination was more and more suppressed by the Habsburgs after the Thirty Years War. For this reason, some nobles in the eastern part of Upper Lusatia had so-called border churches built, in which Protestant Silesians from areas near the border could attend church services. In 1740 Prussia conquered Silesia and the oppression of the Protestants came to an end. In 1742 the Evangelical Lutheran Inspection and Presbyteral Order and in 1748 a visitation order were issued. The Silesian Protestants were organized in a provincial church.

Seal of the Consistory of Silesia in Wroclaw

After the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia was able to acquire the north-eastern half of Upper Lusatia with Görlitz , Lauban and Hoyerswerda at the Congress of Vienna . This area was incorporated into the Province of Silesia in 1825. In church terms, the Lutherans from Upper Lusatia were subordinated to the consistory in Breslau , which was responsible for the entire province of Silesia.

The ecclesiastical province of Silesia , as one of the then nine ecclesiastical provinces, had become part of the United Evangelical Church in the Royal Prussian Lands shortly beforehand , which at the request of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. declined from 1817. From 1829 the spiritual direction of the ecclesiastical province lay with a general superintendent . In the Silesian church province in particular, persistent Lutheran opposition to the Union of Evangelical Confessions was formed and persisted . Based in Breslau , the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Prussia was formed in 1830 , which, after unsuccessful repression, was recognized as a royal in 1845. The Uniate Prussian Church, to whose ecclesiastical province most of the Silesian Protestants remained loyal, strengthened its self-image and therefore called itself from 1846 the Evangelical State Church in Prussia .

At the end of the First World War , the King of Prussia had to abdicate, with the result that the sovereign church regiment fell away. The old Prussian regional church therefore gave itself a new church order in 1922 and was now called the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union , whereby the church provinces, partly territorially changed after border changes, remained as subdivisions. The Silesian ecclesiastical province, like the others, was democratized in its internal structures by the new church order. The power of the consistory and the general superintendent was limited, the management was now with a provincial church council elected by the provincial synod, to which the consistory and general superintendent were subordinate as administrative organs.

The territorial changes were as follows: The Protestant parish in Hultschin , which was ceded to Czechoslovakia in 1920, left the ecclesiastical province and subsequently joined the Silesian Evangelical Church AB in Czech Silesia. After most of the parishioners fled and were expelled in 1945, the parish is orphaned. The Lower Silesian parishes in Bralin and Triebusch came to the Ecclesiastical Province of Posen , which was soon reconstituted as the Uniate Evangelical Church in Poland , in the new Polish Voivodeship of Posen , in 1920 when the Peace of Versailles was implemented .

As 1922 Upper Silesia to Poland was ceded, eliminated the local 17 Protestant communities, the entire Church District Pless and seven churches of the church district Gliwice with a total of 24 priests from the church province and formed on June 6, 1923, the Uniate Evangelical Church in Polish Upper Silesia based in Katowice . This Polish regional church remained spiritually and financially dependent on the ecclesiastical province of Silesia. "This was also expressly granted under the German-Polish Agreement on Upper Silesia of May 15, 1922 in § 95 and § 96." In 1937 the agreement expired, whereby the relationship with the ecclesiastical province of Silesia ended de jure.

The uniate church in Polish Upper Silesia was re-integrated into the ecclesiastical province in 1940. When the church province Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia was dissolved on April 1, 1941, the parish of Fraustadt and the parish in Schwenten (previously Karge parish) came to the church province of Silesia.

In 1933, the Silesian general superintendent Ewald Paul Otto Zänker , who had been in office since 1925, received the title of bishop. Soon after the Nazis came to power, the Silesian provincial church was split between supporters of the regime and the Christians of the Confessing Church . Bishop Zänker took a clear stand for the Confessional Church at the Breslau Kirchentag in 1934. In May 1935 the bishop invited to the preliminary Silesian synod on a confessional basis . State and church authorities took action against brawlers with disciplinary proceedings. The measures taken by the Old Prussian Evangelical Upper Church Council (EOK) initially led to his leave of absence in 1939 and he was retired in 1941. The Protestants of Silesia, who were critical of the regime, had lost their main support.

After the Second World War , the Oder-Neisse Line became Germany's eastern border. Only a small part of the old Prussian church province of Silesia remained in Upper Lusatia, comprising five church districts, with Germany. At the beginning of May 1945, a provisional church leadership consisting of theologians and laypeople, including two consistorial councilors, was formed in Wroclaw and was not expelled from the country by either the Soviet or the Poles. In June the church leadership was already in contact with five Silesian church districts, but there was no connection across the border to the church districts in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ). Therefore, in December 1945, the five Silesian church districts in the Soviet Zone submitted to the provisional leadership of the old Prussian church province of Brandenburg.

40 church districts sent their synodals to the provincial synod in the court church in Breslau on July 22nd and 23rd, 1946, but none from Upper Lusatia, while the number of evangelicals was constantly falling due to the ongoing expulsions in Silesia. At the synod, senior church councilor Robert Berger rejected Zänker's request to re-function as head of the Silesian church from the British zone. The synod then confirmed the provisional church leadership and elected the previous president Ernst Hornig as bishop. On August 2nd, the church leadership decided to set up a separate office for the church districts west of the Neisse. In October, however, the deportations also hit church officials, and on December 4, 1946, Bishop Hornig had to leave for the Soviet occupation zone.

The designated church leadership settled in Görlitz, where on February 24, 1947 representatives of the five Silesian church districts in the Soviet Zone, led by Otto Dibelius, formed a district synod that recognized Hornig, elected in 1946, and the other church leadership. On May 1, 1947, the church leadership in Berlin-Brandenburg handed over the five Silesian church districts to the responsibility of the new Görlitz consistory of the Silesian church leadership. The electoral period of the first provincial synod after the war lasted from 1946 to 1950. In 1947 the former church province of Silesia joined the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) as an independent regional church called the Evangelical Church of Silesia .

Some employees of the church leadership were allowed to stay in Wroclaw until May 1947 to accompany the takeover of the few remaining church structures by the authorized representative of the Consistory of the Evangelical Church AB in Poland . The evangelical parishes of Silesia east of the Neisse, if they survived at all after the escape and expulsion of most parishioners, were incorporated into the Evangelical Church AB in Poland.

In 1951 the first constitution of the Evangelical Church of Silesia was passed. By making its church provinces independent, the Church of the Old Prussian Union had de facto changed from a regional church into an association of independent regional churches, which, like its member churches, remained a member of the EKD. At the Old Prussian General Synods from December 11th to 13th and February 20, 1951 in Berlin, the Old Prussian Synodals adapted the church order to the changed realities. With effect from August 1, 1951, the synodals passed the new order of the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union in February in Berlin .

On April 5, Karl Steinhoff , Minister of the Interior of the GDR , demanded that the part of the name "Prussian" be deleted from the name of the church association. The EOK rejected this and declared that the term "Old Prussian Union", which has been used in the name since 1922, denotes the community of members of the Lutheran and Reformed denominations in what was then Prussia , which had arisen since 1817, but not an affiliation of the church to this in 1947 by the Allies for being dissolved declared state, especially since the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union had not been a state church since 1919 and also included parishes outside the borders of Prussia. The name of the church association remained unchanged.

Nevertheless, the GDR government continued to exert pressure on the name issue. The Synod finally gave in and the Old Prussian General Synod decided on December 12, 1953 to delete the part of the name “Old Prussian”, but at the same time made their view clear that “Old Prussian Union” denotes a community of confessions that the Synod would not give up. From 1954 the name of the church association was " Evangelical Church of the Union " (EKU) instead of "Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union" (APU or EKapU). Initially, however, only the Evangelical Church of Silesia and the other five regional churches that emerged from Old Prussian church provinces continued to form the members of the EKU, which was dissolved in 2003. In 1960, the Landeskirche Anhalt joined the EKU as the seventh member church.

In West Germany, many Protestant Silesians tried to preserve their native traditions. For example, Silesian Church Days were held and the magazine Schlesischer Gottesfreund has been published since 1950 .

In 1968, after the new GDR constitution revoked the churches' status as corporations under public law , the church had to change its name to Evangelical Church of the Görlitz Church Territory, because the GDR Council of Ministers used the name Silesia as a revanchism and non-recognition of the new borders looked at Poland. In 1969 the church became a member of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in the GDR , which ended membership in the EKD. However, after the reunification of the two German states, the regional church was able to rename itself again and in 1992, after it had become a member church of the EKD again in 1991 , took on the name of the Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia .

Territory of the regional church

The area of ​​the "Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia" comprised the part of the former Prussian province of Silesia located west of the Lusatian Neisse , which today forms the north-eastern part of Saxony . A few communities were in the neighboring Brandenburg .

Church organization

Church in Weißwasser

Head of the ecclesiastical province or regional church

At the head of the ecclesiastical province of Silesia there was a general superintendent from 1829 and a bishop from 1933 as spiritual director. From 1922 the Provincial Synod elected the General Superintendent. In the Evangelical Church of Silesia / Silesian Upper Lusatia, which was independent from 1947, the provincial synod elected the bishop. The bishop was chairman of the church government, which also included two senior senior consistory councilors (a theologian and a lawyer) and the synod president.

General superintendent

1829–1830: Johann Gottfried Bobertag
1830-1832: vacancy
1832–1844: Friedrich Ribbeck , until 1829 Gen.Supt. for the Reg.Bez. Erfurt
1844–1863: August Hahn
1864–1900: David Erdmann
1901–1903: Hugo Nehmiz (1845–1903)

General superintendent for municipalities in Reg.-Bez. Liegnitz:

1905–1924 Wilhelm Haupt
1924–1933 Martin Schian , on leave by the Prussian State Commissioner August Jäger - in breach of church regulations.

General superintendent for municipalities of the Reg.-Bez.e Breslau and Opole:

1904–1925: Theodor Nottebohm (1850–1931)
1925–1935: Otto Zänker , from 1933 for the entire church province


1935–1941: Otto Zänker
1941-1946: vacancy
1946–1963: Ernst Hornig , provisional from 1945 as President
1964–1979: Hans-Joachim Fränkel
1979–1985: Hanns-Joachim Wollstadt
1986–1994: Joachim Rogge
1995–2003: Klaus Wollenweber

Leading senior consistorial councilors

1952–1964: Hans-Joachim Fränkel (theological), subsequently bishop
1964–1977: Gerhard Juergensohn (theological)
1977–1986: Hermann Winde (theological)
1990–2003: Hans-Jochen Kühne (theological)


From 1875 the eastern church provinces of the Prussian regional church also had provincial synods, which helped shape church life. After the sovereign church regiment had ended in 1918 , the synods became the highest decision-making bodies. When the ecclesiastical provinces became independent regional churches, the provincial synods were renamed regional synods. Its members, the synodals, were elected by the church districts for a period of six years . The task of the synod was similar to that of political parliaments. The chair of the Synod led the Church President .

During the church struggle from 1933 to 1945, the majority of German-Christian synodals in the provincial synod abolished their own work as a church parliament by resolution; after 1934 there was no more official provincial synod. Alternatively, the preliminary Silesian Synod was formed in 1935, from which the Silesian Confession Synods (synods filled with representatives of the parishes who supported the Confessing Church ) emerged, beginning with the St. Christopher Synod in 1936. From 1946 provincial synods could be held again.

1844 : Ludwig Falk (Extraordinary Silesian Provincial Synod)0000
1869 : Stiller, Superintendent (Extraordinary Silesian Provincial Synod)0000
1875– : Ernst Edwin von Rothkirch and Trach (1848–1904)0000
0000–1919: Wilhelm Ernst von Zedlitz-Neukirch
1919 : Wilhelm Max Schimmelpfennig0000
1920–1923: Gerhard Eberlein
1923–1929: Emil Kraeusel , until 1930 also chairman of the provincial church council (provincial church leadership)
1929–1933: Erich Schultze (called Schultze-Ohlau), 1930–1933 also chairman of the provincial church council
1933–1934: Konrad Jenetzky , 1933–1945 also chairman of the provincial church council
1935–1936: Paul Viebig (1876–1940), for the Provisional Silesian Synod and the Christophori Confession Synod
1936–1938: Walter Beninde for the Naumburg Confession Synod
1938–1950: Alfred Kellner (1883–1955) for the Confessional Synods 1938, 1941, 1943, and the Court Church Synod (period 1946–1950)
1950–1971: Hans Schwidtal
1972–1975: Gotthold Holzhey , Superintendent
1976–1990: Rolf Milker
1991–2003: Andreas Böer , Mayor

Consistory and Church Districts

The consistory conducted the day-to-day business, it was responsible for administrative matters and, on behalf of the church leadership, supervised the parishes, church districts and church officials.

The administration was structured hierarchically from bottom to top as follows:
At the base were the parishes as corporations under public law with elected church councils , the parish council . Several parishes together formed a church district headed by a superintendent . The church districts had the district synod, whose members are appointed by the respective parishes, and a district council of churches. There were initially 6 church districts: Görlitz, Hoyerswerda, Niesky, Reichenbach (Oberlausitz), Ruhland, Weißwasser. Before the union with the Berlin-Brandenburg Church, their number was reduced to four, which were transferred to the new regional church: Görlitz, Hoyerswerda, Niesky, Weißwasser. At last the church had 72 parishes .

Sorbian preaching is also used in the church in Runde.


Part of the Görlitz district is located in the Sorbian settlement area . There is a separate community service for the Sorbian Protestants, which reaches around 750 community members with its pastoral care. Sorbian and bilingual services take place regularly in Hoyerswerda and Runde . Until the Second World War , Sorbian worship was held weekly in numerous churches in the Sprengels.

Hymn books

The parishes of the Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia sing or sang mainly from the following hymn books:

  • Hymnal for Evangelical Congregations in Silesia, introduced in 1878
  • Silesian Provincial Hymnbook , introduced in 1908
  • Evangelical Church Hymnbook (EKG) - Edition for the Evang. Landeskirche Anhalt, Evang. Church Berlin-Brandenburg, Evang. Church of the Görlitz church area, Evang. Regional Church Greifswald, Evang. Church of the ecclesiastical province of Saxony, introduced on the 1st of Advent 1953
  • Evangelical hymn book (EG) - edition for the Evangelical Church of Anhalt, the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg, the Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia, the Pomeranian Evangelical Church, the Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony, introduced at Pentecost 1994


The aim of the church merger was initially to unite several member churches of the Evangelical Church of the Union into one large regional church. But one church after the other gave up the intention to merge, and only the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg (EKiBB) and the Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia remained.

During the negotiations on a merger with the EKiBB, the community base also proposed a merger with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony . However, this merger was not possible for formal reasons, as the Saxon Church is not Union but Lutheran .

The unification with the also united EKiBB failed at the first attempt because the merger at the regional synod in September 2003 did not receive the necessary 2/3 majority. At the following synod in November 2003, the supporters prevailed so far that the Görlitz synodals voted for a merger in the third vote.

After the merger with the EKiBB, the previous EKsOl area temporarily formed a district within the newly founded Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO) . The seat of the fourth general superintendent within the new church was Görlitz. In order to honor the former independence, the Görlitz general superintendent is the only one in the EKBO entitled to bear the title of regional bishop . However, this right is currently not used.

The Sprengel Görlitz was merged with the Sprengel Cottbus as early as 2010. The name Görlitz was retained, but the clear majority of the community members are in the former Cottbuser Sprengel. General Superintendent has been Theresa Rinecker since October 2018 .


Since July 2005, the Silesian God Friend has been published jointly by the Evangelical Church District Association Silesian Upper Lusatia, the Community of Evangelical Silesians eV and the Lutheran Diocese of Breslau in Polish Silesia.


  • Dietmar Neß: The church political groups of the church province of Silesia. Master's thesis of the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Hamburg. Wolfsburg-Kästorf 1981.
  • Dietmar Neß: Between all fronts. The Provincial Church Committee of the Ecclesiastical Province of Silesia. In: Peter Maser : The church struggle in the German East and in the German-speaking parishes of Eastern Europe. Goettingen 1992.
  • The Protestant church in the Görlitz church area in the SED state. Observations, analyzes, documents ; ed. from the Evangelical Academy Görlitz and the Association for Silesian Church History, editor: Dietmar Neß. (= Studies of the Silesian and Upper Lusatian church history. 2). Metzingen 1997. ISBN 3-930250-18-7 .
  • Hans-Joachim Fränkel : The Evangelical Church of Silesia after 1945 . In: Yearbook for Silesian Church History 67 (1988), pp. 183–205.
  • Manfred Jacobs: Constant changes. Ernst Hornig was a church leader after 1945 ; in: Yearbook for Silesian Church History 74 (1995), pp. 38–72.
  • Hans-Dietrich Haemmerlein (Ed.): Between Landeskrone and Knappensee. Reports from the Görlitz church area . Berlin 1978.
  • Ernst Hornig : Circular letters from the Evangelical Church of Silesia 1946–1950 ; ed. v. Dietmar Neß (= supplements to the yearbook for Silesian church history. 9). Sigmaringen 1994. ISBN 3-7995-3809-7 .
  • Christian-Erdmann Schott (ed.): Traces and effects of the Silesian Evangelical Church in post-war Germany . Würzburg 2000. ISBN 3-87057-232-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Alfred Kleindienst and Oskar Wagner : Protestantism in the Republic of Poland 1918/19 to 1939 in the field of tension between nationality politics and state church law, church and national contrasts (= Marburger Ostforschungen; Vol. 42). J.-G.-Herder-Institut, Marburg / Lahn 1985, p. 436ff. ISBN 3-87969-179-7 .
  2. See “German-Polish Agreement on Upper Silesia” (Upper Silesia Agreement, OSA) of May 15, 1922, in: Reichsgesetzblatt , 1922, Part II, p. 238ff.
  3. Gustav Adolf Benrath (Ed.) On behalf of the Federal Institute for East German Culture and History: Source book for the history of the Evangelical Church in Silesia (= writings of the Federal Institute for East German Culture and History; Vol. 1). Oldenbourg, Munich 1992, p. 382. ISBN 3-486-55916-8 .
  4. Handbook of the German Protestant Churches 1918 to 1949: Organs - Offices - Associations - People , edited by Heinz Boberach, Carsten Nicolaisen and Ruth Pabst, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010, (= works on contemporary church history; Series A, sources, vol . 20), Vol. 2 'Landes- und Provinzialkirchen', p. 159. ISBN 978-3-5255-57945 .
  5. ^ A b c d e f g h i j SBZ manual: state administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany 1945–1949 edited by Martin Broszat, with contributions by Hermann Weber and Gerhard Braas. Oldenbourg, Munich 1990, p. 822. ISBN 3-486-55261-9 .
  6. a b c d e Christian-Erdmann Schott : Go out of your fatherland ...: Expulsion - Integration - Legacy of the Protestant Silesians; Lectures, essays, sermons (= contributions to theology, church and society in the 20th century; Vol. 13). Lit-Verlag, Berlin [u. a.] 2008, p. 20. ISBN 3-8258-0801-7 .
  7. ^ Wilhelm Hüffmeier : The Evangelical Church of the Union: A brief historical orientation . In: Wilhelm Hüffmeier (Ed.): "... in accordance with the great purposes of Christianity": The Evangelical Church of the Union 1817 to 1992; A handout for the communities . Luther-Verlag, Bielefeld 1992, pp. 13-27, here p. 24. ISBN 3-7858-0346-X .
  8. Cf. Official Journal of the Evangelical Church in Germany, 1951, p. 153.
  9. a b Wilhelm Hüffmeier: The Evangelical Church of the Union: A brief historical orientation , in: "... the great purposes of Christianity according to" . In: Wilhelm Hüffmeier (Ed.): The Evangelical Church of the Union from 1817 to 1992; A handout for the communities . Luther-Verlag, Bielefeld 1992, pp. 13–28, here p. 14. ISBN 3-7858-0346-X .
  10. ^ Wilhelm Hüffmeier : The Evangelical Church of the Union: A brief historical orientation , in: "... the great purposes of Christianity according to" . In: Wilhelm Hüffmeier (Ed.): The Evangelical Church of the Union from 1817 to 1992; A handout for the communities . Luther-Verlag, Bielefeld 1992, pp. 13–28, here p. 14. ISBN 3-7858-0346-X .
  11. Christian Lotz: The Interpretation of Loss: Political Remembrance Controversies in Divided Germany about Flight, Expulsion and the Eastern Territories (1948–1972) . Böhlau, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-15806-4 , pp. 247-248.
  12. Martin Friedrich : The Prussian regional church in Vormärz. Evangelical church policy under the Eichhorn Ministry (1840–1848) . Spenner, Waltrop 1994, p. 271.
  13. Gerhard Besier : Prussian Church Policy in the Bismarck Era: The Discussion in the State and the Evangelical Church about a reorganization of the Church relations in Prussia between 1866 and 1872. de Gruyter, Berlin 1980, p. 316.
  14. ^ Yearbook of the German Nobility. Vol. 2, 1898, p. 839 ; Hellmut Eberlein : Silesian Church History. Verlag "Unser Weg", Ulm 1962, p. 240.
  15. Handbook of the German Protestant Churches 1918 to 1949: Organs - Offices - Associations - People. Vol. 2: Regional and Provincial Churches (= work on contemporary church history; Series A, Sources, Vol. 20). Edited by Heinz Boberach, Carsten Nicolaisen and Ruth Pabst. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 9783525557945 , p. 517.