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W. Germany's Hot Autumn

Beth Richards — October 1983

“We have no lime to lose: the deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles must be prevented:’ Thus begins the West German peace movement’s appeal for an Action Week, October 15-22.

The ‘Days of Resistance’ include decentralised rallies and actions in every city and community in the country. A different constituency is to be represented each day, with women marching on Monday October 17, workers and farmers on the 19th, Students and professors on the 20th and politicians, administrators and city councils marching on the 21st.

Actions will culminate on October 22 with simultaneous ‘People’s Gatherings for Peace: One such Gathering will take the form of a 100 km human chain, stretching from Stuttgart (NATO European headquarters) to Neu-Ulm (a Pershing II deployment site). Other Gatherings will form blockades of ministries, marches to all nuclear embassies and 24-hour peace vigils. Similar demonstrations will take place on the same day in Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, the U.S. and Nicaragua.

Since July, West Germans have been preparing for a ‘hot autumn’ with intensive workshops on nonviolence. Peace camps at or near nuclear weapons bases have substantially increased their membership. One of the camps, numbering about 700, recently moved to Mutlangen, a Pershing II site, and (along with 150 well-known authors, politicians, artists and church leaders) blockaded the base from September 1st to 3rd. Other events prior to Action Week include a demonstration in white by members of the medical profession, and an international trade union congress on peace and disarmament in early October.

A recent poll shows Ihat 75.50;0 of the West German population is against the planned deployment under any circumstances — even if the Geneva negotiations bring no results. Despite a conservative victory in the last elections, the majority” is definitely behind the peace movement on this issue. A national campaign to hold a consultative referendum on the deployment promises to elicit massive support. Petitions are being circulated before the deadline of November IS, when the current Geneva talks come to a close.

According to military experts, the deployment of new missiles in West Germany will make it the most dangerous territory on Earth. Pershing II missiles are designed to hit Soviet targets within five minutes, just time enough for the Soviets to “launch on warning”.

Within fifteen minutes, West Germany could be pulverised. The citizens of that nation are understandably distressed. Their distress turned to outright defiance in 1981 when Ronald Reagan divulged U.S. plans to wage a ‘limited’ nuclear war in the European theatre: Euphemisms aside, Helmut Kohl’s acquiescence to U.S. pressure (despite massive domestic protest) is part and parcel of NATO’s ‘look tough’ posture.

Submarine-launched cruise missiles are much less vulnerable than the ground-launched variety, and the V.S: has a large edge on the Soviet Union in SLCM and Bomber forces. One armed Poseidon sub has enough nuclear firepower to destroy every Soviet city . NATO claims of Soviet military superiority are unfounded, even by the Pentagon’s estimates. When asked whether he would prefer. to have the Soviet nuclear arsenal al his disposal, U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said, “I would not for a moment exchange anything because we have an immense edge in technology.” Weinberger’s statement was made in context of existing deployment, excluding the planned NATO deployment in Europe.

The Soviets have repeatedly warned that the deployment will not deter them al all. Instead it will make them more determined . than ever to retaliate with their own arms escalation.

More and more, NATO’s modernization of the nuclear armoury is seen as a political move to weaken the peace movement and show the Soviets that ‘we’ll act how we want, no matter what our people say.’ Actions speak louder than words, and by December we’ll see whose actions are louder; NATO’s or the peace movement’s.

For copies of the West German petition for a referendum, contact Michael Schaf, 291 William St., Kingston On., K7L 2E6, or phone (613) xxx-xxxx. In addition, the organisers of Action Week would appreciate solidarity messages sent to: Coordination Committee, Kampaign Volksbefragune, 179 Estermann St., 53 Bonn I, West Germany.