An East German Lutheran pastor who committed public self-immolation to protest the repression of religion in the Communist state of East Germany is Oskar Brüsewitz. His life, especially when he was young was very tough. When the World War II almost came to an end, he was captured by the Red Army and became a prisoner of war. After the war, he had a job which not many people wanted to do. He worked as a shoemaker. Then, he attended a Lutheran seminary in Erfurt.
After he was ordained, he became critical of the East German Communist regime. He installed a cross of neon lamps at his church which later on, brought him to the attention of the authorities. He was asked to be moved to another rectorate. Because of this, he started his suicidal protest. He did it in a public market in front of the church in Zeitz. He died from severe burns on August 22, 1976 in a hospital in Halle Dölau. Because of his self-sacrifice, his parishioners were greatly encouraged.
Because of his self-sacrifice, there was a reappraisal within the church hierarchy of its relationship with the Communist dictatorship. After 20 years, the Protestant Church of the ecclesiastical province of Saxony commemorated his sacrifice. It took place after the reunification of Germany. His death was even called “an act of desperation”. Now, the Protestant Church sees his protest and self-sacrifice as an early step towards the mass popular protests that led to the collapse of East Germany in the year 1989.