by Helmut Kopetzky
It was in the flat of Ute and Wolfgang Bauernfeind, some hundred meters apart of the mighty tower of the Berlin-Schoeneberg town hall with the illuminated Flag on top, where John F. Kennedy had elated 1963 the Berliners, and where the so called freedom bell inside announced every noon the “Berlin Pledge”, to “resist any assault to freedom and to withstand tyranny wherever it might appear”.
Now, in the early Eighties, in endless nightly meetings, a number of radio colleagues discussed, how deep we should mix ourselves as both, professionals and citizens, in the rising protest storm against the atomic arms race.
Wolfgang encouraged our awareness that “documentarism” doesn’t necessarily mean to be just a professional “neuter”, a gatekeeper of the archives.
Investigative and sober journalistic work and personal commitment are no contradictions.
The result of those meetings was a nation-wide organisation, called “Journalists warning of nuclear war”, which drew attention to the facts and figures of that deadly dangerous crisis.
From his early beginnings in the youth programme of Bavarian Radio, Wolfgang hat been a “homo politicus” – and he kept this attitude as feature author and director, conductor of seminaries of the ARD-ZDF-Media-Academy and as instructor, delegated by the Goethe-Institute, in different countries; finally for 15 years as head of the feature department of SFB / RBB Berlin, being successor of Peter Leonhard Braun in this job.
Still, after his retirement, he participates vividly in the ongoing media debate and – as deputed “senior expert” – in the shaping of democratic radio structures in Cambodia.
May his gospel echo in the ears of many of our young colleagues: There should be more commitment beyond fast flat-rate careers. Journalists are citizens as well.
Listen to Wolfgang Bauernfeind
(#Prix Europa, Oct 16, 2001, #’S.O.S Feature’)