Now as always, we advocate admitting members of construction units* [Baueinheiten] to university study. That the government of the GDR has allowed for conscientious objection is a sign of strength. But this bright spot is being clouded over by restrictive measures. The unease that expresses itself over and over again is thus understandable. Occasional outbursts show that people at the "grass roots" level are highly sensitive and inclined to mistrust the leaders of the church and their efforts at securing greater common ground. That the mass media of the GDR was reporting on the electoral participation of leading clergy on election day itself was a mistake that did more than a little to encumber the relationship between state and church, among the churches, and between leaders and congregations. Who has a stake in developments like this? Commentaries in the GDR press from August 31, 1976, on the self-immolation of Oskar Brüsewitz still haven’t been retracted. Whatever one may think of what he did, these commentaries show a lack of respect for the dignity of a fellow Christian citizen.
[ . . . ]
*Brigades fulfilling military service without weapons – trans.
Source: Bericht der Konferenz der Evangelischen Kirchenleitung von 1977 [Report of the Conference of Protestant Church Leaders in 1977], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, May 25, 1977, reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann and Georg Wagner, eds., Das gespaltene Land. Leben in Deutschland 1945-1990. [The Divided Country. Life in Germany 1945-1990]. Munich, 1993, pp. 430-32.
Translation: Jeremiah Riemer