Immediately after the Thursday evening church service, the secret police of the SED dictatorship struck: Stasi people arrested the pastor Reinhold George at the Marienkirche in East Berlin, Bishop Otto Dibelius' most important place of worship. WELT reported in the next available issue on Saturday, February 28, 1953, and headlined: "SED gags the church in the eastern zone".
Shortly before, 23 deaconesses from the Paul Gerhardt Foundation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg had been arrested. The women working as nurses were accused of "questioning politically important patients during the anesthesia on behalf of the American secret service". During the Stasi action, all entrances to the monastery were sealed off by the State Security Service (which WELT abbreviated to "SSD" at the time, a no doubt not entirely coincidental association with the SS in the Third Reich and their domestic secret service SD).
"With these arrests, the Pankow government has gone over to open arbitrary acts against the church," judged the WELT office in Berlin. The journalists had no way of knowing that on January 27, 1953, the SED Politburo had decided on draconian measures against Christian youth work in the GDR. It was the beginning of a new church struggle, as the National Socialists had already waged against insubordinate clergy.
Reinhold George, who lived in West Berlin himself, worked as a youth pastor in the East Berlin church district of Mitte. "Since the reasons for his arrest are not known, it remains unclear whether the action is directed against church youth work or directly against Bishop Dibelius," the article continues.
It was not until the end of April 1953 that the point of view of the socialist state party became clear through an article in the central organ "Neues Deutschland": "Under the pretext of being the 'pastor' of the Berlin St. Marienkirche in the democratic sector of Berlin, the agent Reinhold George gathered from West Berlin young people of Christian faith and abused them shamefully," the party newspaper said: "The religiously camouflaged 'Young Community' abuses the Christian faith of young people to incite them against the German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Union."
The anti-Christian SED regime did not dare to approach Dibelius, Evangelical Bishop of Berlin-Brandenburg and Council Chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany. So others fell into the cross hairs and into the clutches of the secret police.
WELT wrote about the arrest of the sister in Wittenberg: "Church circles see the arrests of the deaconesses as a preparation for the planned synchronization of all private and church institutions, which after their expropriation are to be put under the control of the newly formed and state-controlled Red Cross of the GDR in the Soviet zone. "
George, then 40, remained incarcerated until September 4, 1953; the deaconesses had been quietly released shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin because the charges against them were as absurdly constructed as those against the alleged conspiracy of Jewish doctors against the Moscow leadership at about the same time. George returned to West Berlin, became a pastor and finally superintendent in Berlin-Schoeneberg until his retirement in 1982. He died in 1997 at the age of 83.
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