Ecumenical News International

Federal Cross of Merit for Inventor of "Swords to Ploughshares"

October 01, 2012

Berlin (epd). The inventor of the peace campaign "Swords to Ploughshares" in the GDR, Harald Bretschneider, has received the Federal Cross of Merit. According to a press release by the Office of the Federal President in Berlin, the former Saxon Oberlandeskirchenrat (senior church official) was honored inter alia for his commitment to peace in the DDR and as the initiator of numerous Protestant schools in Saxony after 1990. President Joachim Gauck presented the award on 3 October, the Day of German Unity.

As a youth pastor in the GDR, Bretschneider was one of the initiators of the peace and democracy movement. It was he who organized the production in the early 1980s of large quantities of cloth badges and bookmarks with the "Swords to Ploughshares" campaign logo, which later became the symbol of the Christian GDR peace movement. The 70-year-old is a longstanding member of the board of the Dresden Citizens' Foundation. Last year he was awarded the Martin Luther Medal of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

Gauck presented an order of merit to a total of 35 people in Bellevue Castle. They included actress Meret Becker, producer Peter Stein, TV journalist Fritz Pleitgen, author Günter Kunert and film director and GDR civil rights activist Freya Klier. Christine Storck and Rev. Matthias Storck from Herford were also honored for their work for greater understanding between eastern and western Germany.



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