* 1929 IN RIESENBURG (WEST PRUSSIA)
HOPE FOR A “CORRIGIBLE SOCIALISM”
Heino Falcke is one of the most prominent critics of German Democratic Republic (GDR) socialism. At the same time, he encourages Christians to participate in GDR society. His speech at the Synod of the Protestant Church in 1972 in Dresden will become famous: “With the promise of Christ we will not stop reminding our society of our engaged hope for an corrigible socialism.”
At the end of the Second World War, Falcke’s family from East Prussia flees to Seehausen/Altmark. Strongly influenced by the Confessing Church, Heino Falcke studies theology in Berlin-Zehlendorf, Göttingen and Basel. After finishing his studies,
he follows the call of his church and goes to the GDR in 1952. Falcke is aware of the difficult situation of the Protestant church and its congregations in the GDR. The SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei, or Socialist Unity Party of Germany) seeks to combat their influence, and not only for ideological reasons – churches are the last independent institutions in the GDR. Confrontations between church and state will shape Falcke’s entire professional life, first as a community counsellor, then as a teacher of theology students, and later as the provost of the southern parish of the Protestant church of the Church Province of Saxony in Erfurt.
The task of fighting against bondage and injustice remains in our society, for history stands beneath the cross.
After his speech in Dresden in 1972, the SED considers Falcke a thorn in its side. The Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or MfS) spies on him for many years. In the 1980s, he plays an important role in the development of ecclesiastical grassroots groups in the GDR. In 1989, Falcke is an advocate for nonviolent activities and demonstrations by the opposition. After the fall of the wall, he moderates the Erfurt Round Table, which contributes to the success of the SED state’s transition to democracy and rule of law at the regional level.