source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Dirk Vogel
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Heiko Lietz

born 1943 in Schwerin

In the turmoil of the meeting, the heated discussion becomes confused. It is virtually impossible to tell what it is the opponents want. The debate is about to spiral out of control. Then Heiko Lietz raises his voice above the disputing parties and brings order to the noisy chaos. He has a talent for that. His words are calm but they get through to people. The eyes under the bushy brows seem to be looking at everyone at once, telling them, “Stop. Organise your thoughts.” He does not need exclamation marks to punctuate his sentences. Nor does he try to avoid dispute. Yet, he masters the art of bringing the meeting to order and the participants back to the heart of the matter, which they have somehow managed to lose in the heat of the controversy.

A gifted moderator. A mediator with a good overview. Without his completely natural authority, in the eventful years of the Peaceful Revolution, the unification and the change of direction in the Berlin Republic, many a republican or federal forum of the so multi-faceted civil rights movement Neues Forum (New Forum) would have shot itself in the foot and disbanded without having achieved anything.

It may have been the communities he was part of – and in which he had to assert himself at the same time – that taught Heiko Lietz this skill. Seven brothers and sisters, boarding school, the solidarity of the theology students at the communist university in his native Mecklenburg. Here, the son of a pastor studied alongside people such as Christoph Wonneberger, Joachim Gauck and Ulrich Schacht. When he did not show up to serve his military service, which was compulsory for all young men in the GDR, he was remanded in custody. Then he decided to begin his military service after all and to take subversive action within the National People’s Army. The curate ended up among the construction brigade conscripts, where he organised protests against the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Later, in his youth work in his parish in Güstrow, it was frequently vulnerable young people he rallied together. Pastor Lietz did not convert them but helped these young people to learn to value themselves. When the framework of the official church became too constricted for him, he broke free, became a youth worker, social worker, pastor and peace activist. An activist in that he inspired others to take action through his quiet manner of creating unrest while specifically establishing peace.

After all, Heiko Lietz does not want peace in the sense of the peace of the graveyard – as Biermann called it – he does not remain neutral in any of these debates. His position is always clear. He resolutely rejects what does not seem right to him. Just as his voice is able to mediate above the fracas of the debate, it remains clearly and distinctly his own: attentive, determined, committed – and respected. The democratic transformation in Mecklenburg from 1989 onwards is inconceivable without Heiko Lietz.

Bernd Florath

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