A great listener

Full of good sense and good humor, Klaus Purkott knew better than most the value of listening to others.

A man of few words, throughout his life Klaus Purkott forged relationships through his exceptional capacity to listen deeply. He helped and accompanied countless people, wherever he was, and lived to fulfilment his dedication to God as a Focolarino.

For more than twenty years he worked as a legal practitioner around Berlin’s Civil Court, where he was well known for accepting the cases of people who could not afford legal fees. He was held in high esteem by clients and colleagues alike for his ability to resolve even the most problematic cases, often in surprising and unconventional ways! He was always particularly happy to get involved in those situations which seemed impossible to solve.

Klaus attributed this preferential love for those people who found themselves in real trouble to his communist upbringing. He was born on 31 December 1936, in Upper Silesia, a largely German-speaking region which became part of Poland at the end of the Second World War. Undeterred by his congenital blindness (his eyes had only about 5 per cent vision), Klaus, after completing his high school education, went on to university to study Marxist philosophy. His father, a basket-maker, had been one of the founders of the Polish Communist Party, and like him, the young Klaus hoped to find the truth of life in Communism. But, as Klaus later explained, “Through my blindness, God soon made me understand how ineffective all my efforts were, and He prepared me to meet Him”.

Klaus found a particular light in the figure of Jesus on the cross, who while experiencing the greatest interior darkness, entrusted himself to the Father. This discovery which he made in meeting the Focolare spirituality, transformed his life and led to a new and radical life choice: as a consecrated Focolarino, living his life for others.

Apart from in his professional role, Klaus lived his vocation in many other environments: accompanying the many people who turned to him for help, support or advice; offering the benefit of his deep Biblical knowledge through talks and articles; personally sharing his experiences of life. He had that rare combination of a wide-ranging cultural knowledge together with a clarity of expression and a ready sense of humour which he employed so effectively to reduce tensions!

In 1999, Klaus had retired from his legal work, and was called to Ottmaring, the ecumenical Focolare village in Germany. His moral authority was immediately recognized by the citizens there. “He was a real senior brother to us,” some of the Focolarini recalled. “He knew how to build relationships, and was someone you could trust.” Remembering Klaus, people say: he was so well-balanced, full of good common sense, so sincere. People sensed his deep relationship with God.

In 2008 Klaus returned to Berlin. Then just over two years ago, he suffered a serious accident and the extent of his injuries meant he had to move to a nursing home. This was a new environment for him to witness to living the Word of God. And it was not long before a “Word of Life” group formed around him. Here, he is remembered for his exceptional way of living in the present moment. Not least on January 18, 2019, when he quietly and unexpectedly passed to the next life, during his afternoon nap.

Joachim Schwind


  • Per due volte ho potuto condividere con Klaus qualche giorno e testimoniare la sua sapienza rapportata nell’articolo. Anche la sua acutezza di pensiero e humour. Per me è stato una grande grazia aver potuto conoscerlo.

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