In constituency 169, the Friedensinitiative Herfeld-Rotenburg, the Friedensforum Werra-Meißner and the FriedensFabrik Wanfried organized protest events at several locations. As in many cities throughout Germany, the participants protested against the planned further expansion of the arms budget. We print the speech of a representative of the Peace Factory Wanfried, which was held in Wanfried and Eschwege, and pictures of the events. Below we have printed the letter that Andreas Heine from the Peace Forum Werra-Meissner and the Peace Factory Wanfried wrote in advance to Michael Roth, the member of the Bundestag in the constituency, and the reply from Michael Roth.
Anyone who has ideas on how we should react to this letter can send them to Kontakt@friedensfabrik-wanfried.de and take part in the reply.
Below you can also find the report of the Peace Initiative Hersfeld-Rotenburg about their protest against armament.
„The war of the National Socialists to establish their worldwide supremacy has cost many citizens of Wanfried their lives. More than 5 million German soldiers and over a million German civilians lost their lives in this war, worldwide more than 60 million people.
Since this war, the German population has been very skeptical about demands for rearmament and armies. After the Second World War there was a strong movement against rearmament. The leading conservative politician, Franz Josef Strauss, declared in 1949 during the election campaign: „Whoever takes up a weapon again should have his hand cut off“.
And today? Germany is once again one of the countries with the highest arms expenditure worldwide. It is in 7th place. Of the 15 countries with the highest military expenditures, German politicians have armed themselves the most. Many countries with much larger populations spend much less money on armaments.
The states of the world today spend almost $2 trillion a year on armaments against each other. Well over 50 percent of this is spent by the NATO states, although only 12 percent of the world’s population lives in them.
The NATO states spend four times as much on armies and weapons than China and 15 times as much as Russia.
If German politics really were to spend two percent of its economic output on armaments, it alone would spend more than Russia.
We are educated to keep our promises: Time and again we are reproached that „NATO“ has decided that every country must spend at least two percent of its economic output on armaments.
The German government is forgetting that it bears responsibility for this decision. It could have prevented it, but it voted for it.
In addition: German policy – like many other countries – breaks completely different promises:
As a member of the UN, the Federal Republic of Germany has a duty to make its contribution to a world without poverty, to build a world with work, education, health care and food security for all. This was decided by the UN members in 1948. Promise is now over 70 years old. According to the Basic Law, we in Germany are committed to justice in the world and the right to human dignity worldwide.
Today – after more than 70 years – over 800 million people do not have enough to eat, over two billion people are malnourished. Many still do not have clean drinking water, access to doctors and medicines. And for some years now, the number of hungry people has even been rising again.
For 50 years now, German policymakers have been obliged to allocate 0.7 percent of economic output to development cooperation. It has never kept this promise in a single year.
Hundreds of millions of people in poor countries are without work and social security, without prospects.
Which promise now carries more weight in German politics, the one to NATO or the one as a UN member and state that feels committed to human rights for all worldwide
Willy Brandt is a German Nobel Peace Prize Laureate: He has described a world in which some are starving and starving and others are rearming their armies in a race as organized madness.
He denies the rich states the right to use the money for armament and rearmament that could be used to eliminate poverty and hunger.
The Peace Research Institute SIPRI has calculated that 60 percent of the world’s arms expenditure could cover the basic needs of all people worldwide. The US-based initiative for a world without war, Worldbeyondwar, has calculated that 1.5 percent of annual military spending would be needed to eliminate hunger worldwide.
And Brandt has warned the rich countries: if they continue this policy of global injustice, they endanger peace. The poor will not tolerate this in the long run, he predicted.
With the armament policy the countries endanger the survival of mankind, was his thesis: They devour the money that is necessary to create a just world for all. They also devour the money that is necessary to preserve the natural foundations of life. In addition, armies and warfare contribute significantly to climate destruction, burning hundreds of millions of tons of fuel.
Let’s not stand first in the duty not to NATO, but to our children: Let’s look at the ever more extreme effects of climate change and the extinction of species. Shouldn’t we first keep our promise to leave the next generation a world worth living in and use our resources to do so?
And I oppose the rearmament for NATO planned by the German government and the governing parties for two more reasons.
The countries of the South were opposed from the beginning to the building of a military alliance of the rich industrialized countries; many of them had conquered their countries by force and subjugated them as colonies.
NATO states like Portugal, Great Britain and France waged war to prevent the independence of the countries they colonized.
In recent years, NATO states have plunged many countries into war and chaos, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, to name but a few. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, millions have lost their homes, apartments and security. Again, German soldiers have also lost their lives in these wars. These wars of NATO states are the main reason why many people fled these countries to save their lives. Nowhere have the wars brought the results that politicians of the NATO states promised. The threats from these countries that they claimed have proven to be false. And NATO states are happy to point out that Russia, for example, is breaking international law, but they conceal the fact that they themselves have repeatedly broken international law in the past decades.
After the Second World War, the states have learned the right lessons about how to prevent war.
The states have not been allowed to wage wars since 1945. They must resolve all conflicts peacefully. They have decided to build trust and friendly relations between peoples. They have agreed to work together worldwide to give all people a social perspective: The world had experienced how the suffering of the people during the Great Depression had made the rise of the National Socialists possible, who then steered the world into war.
At FriedensFabrik Wanfried, we are committed to following the path to peace laid down in the UN Charter: not rearming, but building friendly relations and advocating measures that give all people worldwide social perspectives.
There are people who do not want peace because they earn money from tensions and wars. We believe that we, who no longer want people to die in wars, must enforce peace against them and work for peace ourselves.
We have established contacts to Russia and Ghana and to the USA. Today we have Internet. Educational level, foreign language skills and migrants who can build bridges give us more opportunities for peace work than any generation before us.
But the challenges are very big and we will only be able to meet them if a great many people participate in how the tasks are tackled together.
We suggest that a non-partisan peace alliance be formed for the Bundestag election campaign. We suggest that we work together to ensure that we send a representative to parliament who acts in accordance with the principles of international law and human rights and does not let the profit interests of the military-industrial complex interfere with the power interests of the rich states to secure their global dominance.
Wolfgang Lieberknecht for the Wanfried Peace Factory