The Words of the Zoehrer Family
On June 27, 1989, the Austrian Foreign minister Alois Mock and the Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn symbolically cut the Iron Curtain at the border between Austria and Hungary, after the Hungarian government had decided to give permission to several thousand East German citizens to cross over to Austria, against the will of the Communist East German government of that time. After this act the fall of the Iron Curtain could not be stopped anymore in the whole of Eastern Europe.
Exactly 20 years later, on 27th June 2009, members of the Family Federation, who had secretly worked in the underground for the fall of Communism, came together to celebrate the anniversary.
Rev. Dr. Moon, the founder of the Unification Church has often shared his deep empathy with those millions of believers, who suffered in loneliness and despair under the yoke of atheistic communism. Austria with its status of neutrality has been in a key position in the East/ West confrontation during the cold war.
Therefore, Rev. Peter Koch, who has been national leader of the Unification Church of Austria during the 70ies (until his death in 1984), has understood the founder’s vision and desire and has strongly felt God’s call to reach out to the people in the communist countries. By putting his faith into practice he has succeeded to send some of the most brilliant young members behind the iron certain.
They were couples who had belonged to “Mission Butterfly”, a group of then young people who went to East European countries in 1980 as missionaries of the Unification Church, as the Family Federation was called at that time. Another group of people invited were former members of the project “Kolibri” who did anti-Communist work in the West, especially in Austria, thus supporting the mission behind the Iron Curtain, and, finally, a group of early members of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who suffered persecution from the Communist Regime, many of them in prison.
The meeting at the Hotel Marriott was a joyful gathering, especially because Rev. Kwak, who had been responsible for the missionaries from 1984-1990, and his assistant, Mr. Yoshida were able to come and join us. Mrs. Christa Segato who was the responsible person for the missionaries in Eastern Europe, was the driving force behind the event. Together with Mr. Peter Zöhrer (President-FFWPU Austria) and local staff from Vienna the celebration was planned and prepared.
Peter Zöhrer and Mrs. Christa Segato led the program. Due to an important engagement in Korea Pres. Song couldn’t attend the meeting Mr. Heiner Handschin (UPF-Chairmen-Europe2) from Switzerland read Pres. Song’s congratulatory message.
Mrs. Barbara Grabner, a journalist specialized on environmental issues, gave a presentation on “From the Iron Curtain to the Green Belt of Europe”, pointing out that along the route of the former Iron Curtain -- which was once a no-man’s land -- stretching 8500 km from the north of Europe to its very south, the natural habitat has been preserved and is thriving today. Mrs. Grabner also edited a book on “Mission Butterfly” which was published in 2006. In 2008 Rev. Kwak edited and published the book in Korean language.
The highlight of our gathering was Rev. Kwak’s speech in which he reminded us that True Parents had worked persistently in many ways for the fall of Communism and that the contribution of the East European missionaries in achieving this goal will never be forgotten.
After his speech Rev. Kwak handed out certificates of recognition to all the participants. At dinner time -- a beautiful banquet -- there was time for sharing and rebuilding relationships, as some of the missionaries had not met for 10-15 years.
Finally a certificate of gratitude was handed over to Rev. Kwak from the missionaries, emphasizing that he brought True Parents’ spirit wherever he went. A beautiful musical program concluded the meeting: songs from Classic to Jazz, sung and played by the young second generation ladies Daniela Rechberger, the Waldmann sisters and the piano played by Martin Deininger.
All in all more than 80 people attended this historical and profoundly meaningful meeting in Vienna.
This report was compiled by Elisabeth Cook and Peter Zoehrer