Christian Liebig died on 7 April 2003 in a missile attack outside Baghdad
The reporter of the german newsmagazine FOCUS was one of the 600 embedded journalists reporting on the war from within the ranks of the US army. He was the only German journalist to lose his life working in Iraq.
“Do something respectable”
Varsity, local paper, press agency and then, at last, the international editorial office. The journalistic career of FOCUS editor Christian Liebig.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make – to stop studying business administration after four semesters, to pursue his dream profession in journalism. “You can do the commercial nitpicking, I’m going to do something respectable,” he is reported to have said to his fellow students in his typically tongue-in-cheek manner. And so he went on to get a masters degree in communication, economics and politics, covering club meetings and doing trade fair interviews for the local Essen editorial office of the “Neue Ruhr-Zeitung” as the first steps into his working life.
The road abroad after finishing his degree in 1995 passed through the Frankfurt office of the news agency Associated Press. “Anything but international politics was out of the question for him,” recalls the head of the foreign affairs office Peter Zschunke. While the war was raging in former Yugoslavia, Christian Liebig decided to leave his writing desk in Frankfurt for a while and go into the war zone to do research and write on his own account. “He had a strong opinion on the Balkan conflict and disapproved of the Serbian politics,” says Zschunke. “But our job as a press agency is to simply present the facts, to be non-partisan. He wanted to choose his topics more consciously, write more pointedly. I assume that’s what made him want to go to FOCUS.”
“Gotta get out of the office” was Christian’s motto as an editor in the international office in Munich, coming up with story concepts, talking on the phone with FOCUS foreign correspondents, researching until an idea became a printed story. It was mostly his trips to Africa that assuaged his wanderlust – for the time being. “Because the politics of the stronger is still what makes reality,” he became increasingly interested in military issues, and when the Iraq war broke out, nothing could hold him back.
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