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Point of view: Torsten Zugehör

Torsten Zugehör, Mayor of Lutherstadt Wittenberg (Image: Marko Schoenberg)

Epochal changes are always inseparably connected to people who build a similarity and identification to a certain event. In this respect, the people behind the events inspire us also in the 21st century to deal with their stories. Because this interpretation promotes impulses – socially, politically and scientifically. 

This was also the case in Wittenberg, the starting point of the Reformation. Our city is as ‚Lutherstadt‘ etymologically strongly connected to the person Martin Luther and the development of the Protestant church. The Lutheran legacy didn’t only raise awareness and became a point in clerical just as civil societal debates since the Luther decade 2008. An impression that is not only strongly cemented through relics of town planning from the Renaissance in Wittenberg. The critical appreciation of Luther’s work already began during the time of the peaceful revolution in the GDR. Simultaneously, this was the impulse for a reprocessing of Luther’s doctrine, which nowadays functions as an international countenance for Wittenberg.  

The main focus of Luther’s renewal movement was the freedom of the individual as well as the connected permanent and self-reflective contact with the power of judgement. Thinking for oneself becomes a means to an end, the unsoundness becomes the result – there is no need for intermediary instances between god and the believers. In the role of the herald of the age of Enlightenment, the central message didn’t lose any meaning concerning politics, art, culture and science – to be able to communicate freely and unafraid of standing up for one’s beliefs. In the 21st century, freedom needs responsibility more than ever. Determinant for this is as always education, which works as a universal right against immaturity and which makes the freedom of the individual possible.  

I’m happy that along with the Luther decade and its topical range, a process has been started that at its peak in 2017 not only brings the world to Germany but also and more importantly brings the world to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Many of the events during the anniversary make room for the discovery, encounter and the dialogue of all religions and countries worldwide. As a peaceful and modern city, open to the world, we, through the 500th anniversary, want to contribute to the continuous renewal of this in the 21st century.