• Christian Liebig reported as FOCUS editor on the Iraq war

On 7 April 2003 the journalist Christian Liebig died in a missile attack off 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.

The journalist

The decision is not an easy one. Give up four semesters of business administration at the University of Bayreuth in order to study closer to your dream job as a journalist? In summer 1990, Christian Liebig told his fellow business administration students that accounting and statistics were now a thing of the past. “You will continue to count peas. I’m going to do something decent,” they hear.

A pert saying. Because with the master’s degree in communication sciences, economics and politics in Essen, one thing is clear: Now comes the journalistic bullock tour. Club meetings, trade fair interviews: first professional steps in the Essen local editorial department of the “Neue Ruhr-Zeitung”.

University of Bayreuth 1989 – Business studies in the Bavarian province as a “study for reason”

The road abroad

Hunger Area: Research in the desert of Ethiopia

After graduating in 1995, the path abroad leads via the Frankfurt office of the Associated Press news agency. “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 here

“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. Above all, his trips to Africa can satisfy his wanderlust – temporarily. “Because the politics of the strongest is still what creates reality,” he becomes increasingly interested in military topics. When the Iraq war becomes reality, his decision is made.

Interview with a legend: South Africa’s Archbishop Tutu. On the left FOCUS Africa correspondent Frank Räther.