retired Professor Dr. Hartwig Prange
Born on 26 July 1938 in Reichenbach (Silesia),
Passed away on 10 March 2024 in Halle/Saale
We were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of Hartwig Prange's passing. With his departure, we have lost one of the founders and supporting pillars of crane conservation in Germany and Europe.
As a young vet working in Groß Mohrdorf (1965 to 1967), he probably first came into close contact with cranes, thousands of which roosted at the Pramort and in the Udarser Wiek just across from the island of Rügen.  The large birds fascinated him and from then on became an inspirational theme in his life.
As early as 1979, and then again in 1985, he published the "Report on Crane Gathering and Resting Sites in the German Democratic Republic (GDR – the former. West Germany), commissioned by the AKSAT (Arbeitskreis zum Schutz vom Aussterben bedrohter Tierarten der DDR) at the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the GDR.
In 1989, during the last phase of the GDR, he and numerous co-authors published the book "Der Kranich" (The Crane) in the Neue Brehm-Bücherei, a series as a continuation and update of Dr Wolfgang Makatsch's monograph.  Prange travelled with Wolfgang Mewes and Eberhard Henne to Tallinn in 1989 for the international crane conference at the city Gut Sunder in former west Germany. There, they and other East Germans met for the first time crane conservationists from the western world. He was one of the founding members of a new group, Crane Conservation Germany, through support from  Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU, The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union)  and World Wide Fund Germany (Umweltstiftung WWF Deutschland).
What Hartwig Prange meant and achieved for crane conservation in Germany can hardly be expressed in words. His strong personality but with radiant warmth, brought him close to everyone he encountered. He did not allow any distance and approached every conversation in a committed and friendly manner. In addition to his books and writings on cranes, he dedicated the last three decades of his life to active crane conservation throughout Germany and helped conserve many important habitats, especially the resting areas for migrating flocks for these space-dependent birds.  
Hartwig Prange compiled all the data collected at over such fifty resting areas, and for many years presented an annual report on crane migration, resting, and protection, at the meeting each autumn of the German Crane Protection Association, resulting in an important repository of knowledge that is of significance throughout Europe and will serve as an archive of knowledge about this species for future generations.
Prof Hartwig Prange was also President of the European Crane Working Group for over 25 years, and helped in the preparation of various proceedings. His book "Die Welt der Kraniche" (The World of Cranes), a reference work for experts and volunteers, published in 2016, was at that time, the most comprehensive work on the world's cranes.
Another outstanding book, "Bauernschicksale, Die Landwirtschaft im Osten Deutschlands seit dem zweiten Weltkrieg" (Farmers' Fates: Agriculture in Eastern Germany Since the Second World War) in 2006, describes the tragic events in the countryside, particularly in the Altmark region, during and following the years of land reform in the GDR. In his usual matter-of-fact manner, he describes the profound changes in rural life as a result of the SED's  (Sozialistische Einheitpartei Deutschland`s) rule and  the dramatic and drastic changes in the working and living environment in rural areas. The lucid descriptions of the disastrous demolition of rural traditions due to these rigid actions of the authorities on behalf of the state and helps one understand the conflicts following the reunification of Germany.  After fraudulent elections in GDR on the eve of reunification, Hartwig and others bravely gathered in a church to protest the elections unaware that reunification was imminent.
A scientist through and through, Hartwig Prange never relied on heresay, he always wanted to know the truth, through study and reflection. We applaud him for his fundamental work in the field of crane research. And we thank him for his reliable, long-standing contribution to our joint work in national and international crane conservation. At each annual conference, Hartwig presented new reports on the topic of "Resting Places of Migrating Cranes” and was readily available to all participants for questions and discussions. He gave his last lecture, concise and eloquent as usual, at the national conference of Crane Conservation Germany in November 2023 at Gut Gnewikow in Brandenburg.
His memory is that of a very upright, critical and political person whose incorruptible character cost him some professional success during the GDR era. He was only able to make up for this after reunification in 1989. In Jena, he worked at the Academy of Agricultural Sciences and was appointed Director of the District Institute of Veterinary Medicine of Jena (1990-1991). He took over as head of department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Department of Veterinary Services and Food Inspection in Thuringia (1991-1994), and was finally appointed university professor (C3) for animal hygiene with veterinary clinic at the Martin Luther University Halle/Saale (1994-2003). Even after retiring, he continued to work as Professor Emeritus with an honorary contract (2004-2008). The fact that he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was not worth mentioning to him; vanity was not one of his character traits.
Hartwig Prange is survived by his wife Christl, his daughters Antonia and Sibylle and their children, to whom we extend our sympathy and condolences.
Hartwig was a highly valued friend. We miss him dearly.
The Executive Committee of Crane Protection Germany and the team of the NABU Crane Centre
© Anne Kettner

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