Journalism students Christopher Stöhr and Georg Hölting interview Minister President Dr Reiner Haseloff.

"We have deficits." Minister-President Dr Reiner Haseloff on the challenges in the dawning 21st century.

Journalism students Christopher Stöhr and Georg Hölting had asked Haseloff, who won the election, for a short interview after the state parliamentary elections as part of the online teaching editorial. He agreed to do so at a later date. The time came at the end of March 2022.

Stöhr: Good afternoon, Dr Haseloff, thank you for taking time for us today. You yourself studied physics and even earned a doctorate. How did your studies shape your life? What was it like for you?

Haseloff: The choice of studies is of course one of the most decisive in life. But it always depends to a certain extent on the overall framework and the system in which one grows up. I grew up in the GDR. It was an atheistic state that was dictatorial. I am a Christian and grew up in a Christian family. It was clear from the beginning that if you wanted to go to grammar school without a consecration, you needed a very, very good report card. And it was also clear that not every profession was possible if you wanted to keep your own world view, your own faith. With this inner imprint, it was then the case that if you studied, it could only be something scientific and technical or something medical. These were the only ideology-free fields that were on offer at the time. Everything else was in some way ideologically shaped by the system of communism. The fact that I liked physics and natural sciences very much and was also good at them was of course then a lucky circumstance.

Stöhr: Would you still study physics today?

Haseloff: Well, the affinity would certainly have remained. First of all, because you know where you were good at school and where your interests were. As a person of faith, you are always involved in the debate between the basic questions of life, in the field of philosophy and theology, but also in the natural sciences. That means the questions: Where does everything come from? Where does it go? What is the background? What is the programming? What is actually going on in this cosmos? For 13.8 billion years, since the Big Bang? These are things that are existential. That have influenced me through this debate. It would probably happen in exactly the same way today. Nevertheless, one would automatically include things in the catalogue of possible subjects of study and also re-evaluate things that one clearly excluded in the past. It was clear that if you wanted to become a teacher, you needed to be very close to the system. That's why I lost my teacher training. Today it would be included in the catalogue again. But in the many professional situations I have been in - in the first half of my life as a physicist and in this context also as an environmental researcher and atmospheric physicist, and in the second half of my life local politics, federal administration, employment office, state secretary, minister, prime minister - everywhere I have found a certain structure of thought and system with this basic canon of what was taught. Angela Merkel is always cited as an example with the same professional qualifications. We were also born in the same year. There is something to the fact that you approach a task differently than a lawyer or a political scientist, for example.

Hölting: Would you perhaps study theology today?

Haseloff: I even have a small theological degree. I did a theological correspondence course, still in GDR times. That was possible from the old federal states through the connection of the dioceses, so I also have a theological degree.

Stöhr: You have already mentioned that there were some differences in studying in the West compared to the GDR. What is different today than it used to be in the GDR?

Haseloff: It started with the fact that there was, of course, a fundamental ideological penetration in all phases of life. Even in kindergarten, the relationship to the military, to weapons, to tanks was part of the educational concept. This continued through the time when the young people were out and about as pioneers and then on to the initiation ceremony, which I, as a devout Catholic, did not take part in. Together with a Protestant friend, we were the only ones in the class. Then there is a different professional background. Today, for example, about 35 to 40 per cent of a class take the Abitur. In our time it was 10 per cent. That means you could get through much harder material in a shorter time. Unlike today, if you want to get 40 per cent through a baccalaureate, you simply have to soften certain things. That's not to denigrate today's Abitur. It's just that I still think it's a shortcoming of our education system that there is the possibility to opt out of important subjects.


The complete interview can be found here.

Photo: Noah Carstensen