Lothar Spree – The Good Man Of Tongji University

SHANGHAI – I first met Lothar Spree in Shanghai in August 2007, and we have been in regular email contact until a couple of weeks before he passed away on December 6th, 2013. I knew he was preparing for his final days in Berlin when we last exchanged ideas about China via email correspondence. He was hospitalized for some weeks, he said. He never complained, though; he never said how bad his illness really was. His last message to me read: “I go home tomorrow. Yesterday I started therapy. This will dictate my life for a while now. I am confident and determined, however, to stay active and continue my life joyfully.

The impact Lothar has left on hundreds of his Chinese students at Tongji University of Shanghai is immeasurable. He taught film art and history, especially European and German one, media theory, and, most important of all, he helped students to (re-)discover their own creativity and to express themselves through the film medium. Some of his students I met in person when they worked on short film entries and later won prizes for their pieces presented at the Xu Guangqi Short Film Festival in Shanghai. They have a bright future ahead of them. Lothar mentioned to me how lucky he was that he was given the privilege to meet some of the finest students in China, and how he loved to make a difference for them and for the future of Sino-German relations. Lothar was a great professor and educator, a kind soul, and a true friend. His many advises have stuck with me and guided me ever since. He was liked by everyone in the German community in China. He loved travelling, and he told me many stories of Germany and Italy; but he was also a man of China and Shanghai, the megacity at the forefront of China’s education, which he called his home for so many exciting and wonderful years. Lothar Spree became a teacher because that was his passion and his calling. We’re going to miss you, Old master!