Erich Honecker

Hmm–this is a post I started and never got around to finishing . . .  These are some things I collected just a couple months ago, when we were still gloating over the collapse of socialism.

Until 1990, East Germany was locked in the grip of communist rule. When East Germany’s communist government collapsed, former Party Chief Erich Honecker found himself without a job, without a home, without good health, without a pension and without a friend in the whole country, except for his wife, Margot.

In spite of the nationwide hatred of the former dictator, the family of Lutheran pastor Uwe Holmer took Erich and Margot Honecker into their own home to live with them. This act of compassion is even more amazing when you take into account that Johannes Holmer, the oldest son in the family, had been denied entrance to a university because of his Christian faith. In fact, the official denial had been approved by the former Minister of Education-Margot Honecker herself!  God’s Mission Promises

In January of 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall Erich Honecker, the brutal and hated dictator of East Germany, found himself sick and homeless. So despised was he that no one could be found to provide him shelter. They contacted Pastor Uwe Holmer who directed a church-run convalescent center in the village of Lobetal. Pastor Holmer had bitter memories of Honecker and his regime.

Honecker had personally presided over the building of the wall, the wall that separated Holmer’s family and kept him from attending his own father’s funeral. He had even greater reason to resent Honecker’s wife, who ran the East German ministry of education.

Holmer’s ten children had been denied admission to any university because of their faith. It would be easy for Pastor Holmer to turn Honecker away because the church’s retirement home was full and had a long waiting list. But because Honecker’s need was urgent, Pastor Holmer decided he had no choice but to shelter the couple under his own roof!

Pastor Holmer’s charity was not shared by the rest of the country. Hate mail poured in. Some members of his own church threatened to leave or cut back their giving. Pastor Holmer defended his actions in a letter to the newspaper. “In Lobetal,” he wrote, “there is a sculpture of Jesus inviting people to himself and crying out, ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ We have been commanded by our Lord Jesus to follow him and to receive all those who are weary and heavy laden, in spirit and in body, but especially the homeless… What Jesus asked his disciples to do is equally binding on us.”  Creed

Honecker im Kirchenasyl. Gesprach mit Uwe Holmer (British Library Direct)

Uwe Holmer wurde 1955 Landpfarrer und erlebte die Zwangskollektivierung in seiner ersten Pfarrstelle Loissow (Mecklenburg); später wurde er Leiter und damit auch Bürgermeister der Hoffnungstaler Anstalten in Lobetal, sie waren 1905 eingerichtet worden, um Obdachlosen einen neuen Anfang zu ermöglichen; „Hier werde ich gebraucht” war seine Antwort auf Fragen, ob er nicht lieber in den Westen Deutschlands gehen wolle; sieben seiner 10 Kinder kamen in Mecklenburg zur Welt, keines von ihnen durfte zur DDR-Zeit eine höhere Schule besuchen; am 30. Januar 1990, wurde Erich Honecker, der ehemalige Partei- und Regierungschef der DDR, und seine Frau Margot, von der Pfarrersfamilie Holmer im brandenburgischen Lobetal aufgenommen; die Honeckers waren zu diesem Zeitpunkt praktisch obdachlos, weil sie in Wandlitz kein Wohnrecht mehr hatten und keiner ihrer Genossen bereit war, ihnen Asyl an zu bieten; „Vergebung statt Rache” praktizierte die Pfarrersfamilie im Selbstverständnis ihrer christlichen Überzeugung und stellte dem Ehepaar Honecker einen Teil ihrer Wohnung zur Verfügung; im Ruhestand ging Holmer nach Mecklenburg zurück und baute u. a. mit einem Freund eine Suchtklinik mit SOS-Station für Alkoholkranke auf; als Aushilfsseelsorger reiste er von Zeit zu Zeit nach Kasachstan und Kirgisistan, um an Bibelschulen zu lehren; Pastor Uwe Holmer fand es unwürdig, dass die Urne mit den sterblichen Überresten Erich Honeckers zehn Jahre nach dessen Tod noch immer in der Wohnung von Witwe Margot Honecker in Chile steht. „Im Saarland sollte es Ämter geben, die einen würdigen, sicheren Platz für seine Beisetzung finden”, sagte Holmer der “Bild”-Zeitung.  Chronik

NY Times mentions H’s lawyer

  • “The Wall will be standing in 50 and even in 100 years, if the reasons for it are not removed.” (Berlin, 19 January 1989) (Original: “Die Mauer wird in 50 und auch in 100 Jahren noch bestehen bleiben, wenn die dazu vorhandenen Gründe noch nicht beseitigt sind“)
  • “Neither an ox nor a donkey is able to stop the progress of socialism.” (A rhyming couplet in the original German: “Den Sozialismus in seinem Lauf, halten weder Ochs noch Esel auf“, Berlin, 7 October 1989)
  • “The future belongs to socialism” (Original: Die Zukunft gehört dem Sozialismus) (early 1980s) (Wiki)
  • Candles behind the Wall

    by John-Peter Pham

    Candles behind the Wall
    Barbara von der Heydt
    William B. Eerdmans, 1993
    266 pp. Cloth: $19.95
    [ purchase this book ]

    Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, legion has been the number of studies and theories seeking to explain how and why its end came about as it did. However, few are as convincing as that put forth by Barbara von der Heydt in her new book, Candles behind the Wall: Heroes of the Peaceful Revolution That Shattered Communism. Von der Heydt’s thesis can be summed up in a phrase: communism failed because it was unable to make people forget about God.  Acton Institute

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