"I'm a member of the 'Evangelical Free-Church of Guben' and that's enough for me"
Gottfried Hain, probably Germany's highest-ranking Baptist politician, is completing his first year as mayor of Guben, a city of 30,000 on the Polish border. The 38-year-old Hain is also among Germany's most family-minded politicians: He and his wife Juliane are the proud parents of seven children.
Hain, a male nurse, describes his road to politics as winding. "I never intended to become a politician," he insists. "I wouldn't even describe myself primarily as a politician. Rather, I'm someone who sees certain [social] needs and attempts to meet them with the instrument of politics."
This lay leader of a congregation belongs to no political party. When asked why, he responds: "I'm a member of the 'Evangelical Free-Church of Guben' and that's enough for me." Belonging to a party "relativizes convictions, forcing one to help implement decisions which one would never have made otherwise." Yet Hain adds: "I'm eager to be a partner of the various parties. I want to cooperate with all parties pushing reasonable causes. There are people everywhere who think primarily of themselves, but others are cooperative and collegial."
The neo-Communist PDS party is the largest faction in his city's parliament. Hain, a former pacifist "construction soldier", calls their present vilification "weird". "I've had four years time to become acquainted with the Western system," he reports, "and I've noticed its skill in dodging confrontation. So it's very strange to now blast the PDS unyieldingly. I don't see this as a sign of strength. This will only lead to greater [East-West German] polarization."
"Those with political acumen were once forced to join the SED (the old communist party) or a satellite," he explains, "there were no other choices. Former president Richard von Weisaecker spoke the truth when he admitted to not knowing what he would have become had he been born in the eastern part of Germany."
Dr. William Yoder
Berlin, December 14, 1994
Written for the “European Baptist Press Service” in Hamburg, 312 words.
Note from September 2021: Gottfried Hain, born in Poland in 1956, lost his bid for re-election in 2002. He was replaced as mayor by a business-friendly, liberal (FDP) politician. Hain soon became Administrative Director of Guben’s Lutheran “Naemi-Wilke-Stift”, retiring in 2021.