Centre for Theology and Religious Studies

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


Church and Politics in Thuringia 1945-1970
The aim of the study
In my research I focus on the issues of church politics within a communist state, the German Democratic Republic and a small Lutheran church, the Church of Thuringia, and its political achievements under Bishop Mitzenheim, who was in office between 1945 and 1970.


About the research

My aim is to study the integration process and to analyse how the Church of Thuringia tried to establish 'a room for the Church' in a country that was so dominated by the communist party, die Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) and its construction of a communist state. My entry point is Bishop Mitzenheim correspondence with his priests throughout his incumbency.
During the post war period, the Church of Thuringia played an important role in church politics. Under the leadership of Bishop Mitzenheim, the Church of Thuringia attempted to influence the establishment of measures to regulate and provide a basis for relations between church and state, which were built on the principal of mutual respect. In this effort, the views put forward in the Lutheran Thesis ”Zwei Reiche Lehre” was of great significance. The Church of Thuringia interpreted this classic Lutheran thesis differently from other East German churches. This led to certain isolation for this church during the 1960s.It was not until the formation of the Bund evangelischen Kirchen in the German Democratic Republic in 1969 that the East German Landeskirchen were able to adopt a united position on church politics. In my study I will use an inside perspective of the church politics created by bishop Mitzenheim and the members of the Staff of the Church of Thuringia. The main sources will be used from the archive of the Church of Thuringia in Eisenach.

Thomas Björkman

Church and Mission Studies
Centre for Theology and Religious Studies

Contact information

E-mail thomas.bjorkmanctr.luse

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