The Weimar Republic, the Nazi era, and the post-war period in the Soviet Occupation Zone and German Democratic Republic: these catchwords stand for the three phases
of Heinrich Wienken’s (1883–1961) involvement in church politics. Wienken served as representative of the German Catholic Charities (Caritas) organization in the Reich capital, then
headed the Commissariat of the Fulda Bishops’ Conference from 1937 to 1951, and finally became Bishop of Meissen. Wienken always sought a balance between state and church, never confrontation. As a
result, he occasionally found himself caught between warring political factions. Help for »poor people,« a defining impulse in his life, was more important to Wienken than principled criticism of
prevailing political and ideological conditions. In this biography published on the 20th anniversary of Wienken’s death, Martin Höllen tests the validity of accusations by contemporary critics, who
called him »brown Wienken« after 1933 and »red Heinrich« after 1945.