German pastor recalls central role in 1989 Communist disintegration

Christian Führer may not be the most familiar name in the flood of well-known people who we’ve been reminded of in the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For residents of the then-East German city of Leipzig, Führer remains a key figure in the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Führer is a recently retired Lutheran pastor. According to a fascinating read in the British newspaper The Independent, Führer began holding weekly prayer vigils for peaceful protest against the East German regime. Crowds swelled from a few hundred at the end of 1988 into the thousands as the fall of 1989 approached as his church became a rallying point for protests.

This was not without fear of serious retribution. In June 1989 the Chinese military violently suppressed democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Führer and his countrymen legitimately feared similar repression by East German troops and the Stasi secret police. The government had dealt harshly with protesters earlier in the year.

The growing dissatisfaction in Leipzig reached an apex on Oct. 9, 1989, one month to the day before the Berlin Wall came down. Approximately 70,000 people marched through the streets in a candlelight vigil. Not a shot was fired. In retrospect it was a benchmark in the beginning of the end to a divided Germany.

People of faith using non-violent means to shake off oppression provide some of the most positive examples of the power of prayer available. Certainly Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi come to mind.

Führer, in his own way, should be remembered as noteworthy for using his faith and position as a prominent pastor in playing an important role in the downfall of Communism.

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