Gisela Kallenbach

Leipzig, Sachsen
* 1944

With my deep roots in the GDR civil rights movement, I have consistently faced up to new challenges since 1990.

Biografie auf Deutsch
  • Parteien
  • Opposition/Bürgerrechtsbewegung
  • Kirche
  • Alltagserfahrungen
  • Umbruchserfahrungen seit 1989/90
  • Englisch

Biographical information

1944 Born in Soldin
1960-1962 Apprenticeship      
1962-1969 Lab and research assistant at the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig
1969-1990 Head of laboratory, research assistant and subject coordinator at the Scientific-Technical Centre (WTZ)
1970 Degree as graduated engineer through evening classes and correspondence courses
1982 Member of the working group ‘environmental protection’ and, since 1984, co-organiser of the peace mass in the Church of St. Nicholas in Leipzig
1987-1989 Participation in the conciliation process between the GDR’s congregations
1990-1991 Independent city councillor for the Green Party’s parliamentary group in Leipzig
1991-2000 Personal aide at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Sports, since 1994 Department of Environmental Affairs, Regulation and Housing
2000-2003 Employed by the UN mission in Kosovo
2004-2009 Member of the European Parliament


Gisela Kallenbach is an East German civil rights activist and politician for the Green Party. In 1989, she was a founding member of the ‘Ökolöwe’ (‘Eco-Lion’) society, an environmentalist church group in Leipzig which was also involved in the Round Table. Prior to that, she was an active member of the working group on environment protection at the youth parish office in Leipzig, and participated in the conciliation process (Konziliarer Prozess) between the churches of the GDR. Kallenbach had refused the Jugendweihe in her youth, prompting the Ministry of State Security to deny her the completion of her Abitur. Instead, she began an apprenticeship as a lab assistant and earned a degree through completing correspondence courses. She remained in this profession until reunification. From 1990 to 2000 she was an advisor to the Department of Environmental Affairs in the city of Leipzig and an observer at the Green Party’s regional leadership in Saxony until 1999. Her international activities led her to join the UN mission in Kosovo. Subsequently, Kallenbach represented the Green Party in the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009. Today, Kallenbach – who has also been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany – is a member of the board of trustees of ‘Bürger für Leipzig’ (‘Citizens for Leipzig’) and numerous charitable societies.

Gisela Kallenbach engagierte sich bereits in den 1980er-Jahren in oppositionellen Umweltgruppen. Nach der Friedlichen Revolution war sie weiter politisch für den Umweltschutz aktiv. Mit ihr sprach Lucie Kiehlmann, Koordinatorin unseres Zeitzeugenbüros, über die Anfänge, die Schwierigkeiten, aber auch die Erfolge der Umweltbewegung in der DDR. Fünf Fragen an … Gisela Kallenbach.