Peace movement

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A peace movement is the term used to describe social movements that actively and organisationally prevent wars , forms of war and armaments and want to exclude war as a political tool .


In the history of Europe there have been repeated attempts to abolish war as a political tool, or at least to contain it. In ancient Greece in the 4th century BC, for example, The idea of ​​the Koine Eirene was propagated in order to secure peace as the normal state by means of internationally binding treaties . In the 10th century AD, in response to the widespread feuds of the lower feudal nobility in the south of France, the peace movement for God emerged , which can be considered a forerunner of modern peace movements due to the participation of broad sections of the population.

In modern times, there was massive opposition to war and armaments for the first time since the Crimean War in the 1850s. An international peace movement has been spoken of in public since around 1900. This term referred to those European peace groups that had emerged in many European countries and the USA since 1815 with liberalism as a democratic reform movement. Representatives of such groups have called themselves "pacifists" since 1901. The term pacifism is mostly related to their ethical attitude and long-term goals, the term peace movement to the current organizations, methods and activities. Many pacifists today also reject wars of defense , while other supporters of a peace movement often want to reduce a current risk of war through relaxation and international treaties without rejecting self-defense and armaments in principle.

Since around 1890, the anti-militarism of socialist groups and parties, which regards war as an outgrowth of capitalism and wants to prevent it through the revolutionary action of the workers' movement, differed from the “bourgeois” peace movement, which turned to the state governments with appeals and proposals. During the First World War , the two camps in some central European countries converged, after 1918 they temporarily gained a mass base and organized joint actions against armament, conscription and war, such as the annual Anti- War Day .

During the time of National Socialism , the organizations of the German peace movement were banned and many of their representatives were imprisoned and murdered or expatriated. Non-German peace groups lost many supporters and influence due to the war against fascism and National Socialism . On the other hand, the outlawing of war of aggression , which began before 1933, and the settlement of conflicts under international law between sovereign states because of the experience of the world wars from 1945 onwards gained international approval.

Since the arming of the signatory states to NATO and the Warsaw Pact with nuclear weapons in the 1950s, a new peace movement has grown up, with the Easter marches , for example, as an annual form of demonstration. In the 1960s it crystallized in the context of the international opposition to the Vietnam War and then temporarily resigned. It was only with new armament steps and plans by NATO from 1979 onwards that a broad, transnational peace movement based on the consent of large sections of the population emerged in some western states, which wanted to prevent the missile stationing announced in the NATO double resolution, to implement other security concepts in the medium term and to implement complete nuclear disarmament in the long term .

Since the wars of intervention of the 1990s, an anti-war movement has emerged from case to case, but it no longer reached the mass base and level of organization of the 1980s. Against the Iraq war of 2003 an international peace movement emerged, which included new peace organizations and many unorganized opponents of the war, which had been established since 1890 and 1945.

In addition to this main line of the peace movement, there were always secondary lines that also dealt with peace and were at least partially perceived as such. Pierre de Coubertin , the founder of the modern Olympic Games, called for an Olympic peace from the outset, analogous to the armistice of antiquity, at least for the duration of the Olympic Games . He had regular contact with the early peace movement, especially in Switzerland. During the First World War , however, Coubertin volunteered and withdrew from peace activities. His successors used a peace rhetoric, but were never so close to the peace activists again.

The beginnings

Peace societies

Since the anti-Napoleonic wars , small associations of mostly bourgeois idealists have emerged in various European countries , advocating human rights , social improvements, free trade , the abolition of slavery and - mostly for ethical and religious reasons - also rejecting all military violence. They soon merged to form national peace societies in several states : for example the American Peace Society in New York City (1815), London Peace Society in Great Britain (1816) and Geneva Peace Society in Switzerland (1830).

While the Anglo-American peace societies referred mainly to the Christian conscience , the continental European groups invoked the ideals of the French Revolution and were often free thinkers . In the beginning they had only a few members, mostly from middle-class sections of the population. With the rise of liberalism, these groups grew and organized joint international peace congresses, for example in London in 1843 , in Brussels in 1848 , the first major international peace congress in Paris in 1849 and a peace congress in Frankfurt am Main in 1850 .

The main aim of these meetings was the codification of international law and the creation of a supranational court of arbitration in order to avoid wars and armed conflicts. 1849 came with the Anti-Corn Law Association of Richard Cobden first time a pacifist party in a parliament . It soon formed an inter-parliamentary union with peace-loving parliamentarians from other countries .

War reporting in the Crimean War of 1850 made public awareness of the devastating effects of artillery with photography, invented a few years earlier, in English daily newspapers . Roger Fenton was one of the earliest war photographers . The mechanization in modern wars also claimed more and more civilian victims. Protests against the disastrous living conditions of the soldiers and the work of Florence Nightingale led to humanitarian relief for the British army. War experiences in Italy prompted the Swiss Henry Dunant to found the Red Cross in 1863 . The first international agreement of modern international law was achieved with the first Geneva Convention , concluded in 1864 .

In 1867, Frédéric Passy founded the International Peace League .

In 1869, the Society for Peace Friends was formed in Germany as the first pacifist group . Like the other European peace societies, it was initially aimed entirely at the legal limitation and shortening of national wars and the alleviation of the consequences of war through petitions to the governments, but hardly at all on politically independent party formation and conscientious objection .

Peace conferences

In 1891, on the initiative of Elihu Berrit (1810–1879), European pacifists met in Rome at the Third World Peace Conference . There a group of educated and politically committed Europeans formed the International Peace Office based in Bern . Its task was to prepare future international peace conferences. Leading in this were among others:

In the following year Bertha von Suttner's novel Die Waffen Nieder appeared , which in the completely militarized society of the German Empire sensitized broader layers to the problems of war and peace . After the Austrian Peace Society, together with Fried, she founded the German Peace Society in Berlin in 1892 , the oldest still existing German association of war opponents.

Both founders were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1905 and 1911) , which Alfred Nobel , a scientist friend of von Suttner's friends, had previously donated. Dunant (1901) and the Bern Peace Office (1902) also received this award.

First international law treaties

As a result of the initiatives of these groups, the first international Hague Peace Conference took place in 1899 , at which the basic rules of warfare were adopted with the Hague Land Warfare Regulations , which laid down groundbreaking principles of modern international law. On the basis of the distinction between civilians and combatants (military), Article 22 formulated:

"The states do not have unlimited right in the choice of the means of harming the enemy."

This was the first time that there was a legal handle for the international outlawing of weapons of mass destruction . In addition, the establishment of the Hague Court of Arbitration should enable the settlement of conflicts between states.

However, the German Reich refused the disarmament agreed in Haag and refused the arbitration tribunal, so that since 1908 the arms race in the naval construction between Germany and Great Britain was still accelerated. The treaty pacifism aimed at limiting the means of war and the conduct of war consequently failed because of the problem of - especially German - imperialism .

Second international

The social democracy of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which was then primarily oriented towards Marxism , also rejected the war. For them a front ran not between states and nations, but between the social classes in all nations. It was therefore their concern to unite the workers of all countries in the struggle against capitalism and the ruling class of the bourgeoisie ( internationalism ) in order to sustainably deprive the profit-oriented war economy. Their guiding slogan came from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels :

"Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

Accordingly, the Second Socialist International , founded in 1889 , an amalgamation of workers' organizations and parties with worldwide claims from initially 20 states, agreed joint actions against a war by their governments, including since the Congress of Paris in 1912 the general strike in the event of a war between the European hegemonic powers , especially Germany and France.

The minority of anarchist delegates already spoke out in favor of conscientious objection and strikes against the war at the congresses in 1891 and 1893 .

Most European social democrats, however, considered the defense of the “fatherland” in the event of an attack by another capitalist state to be legitimate and necessary. August Bebel expressed this thought long before the First World War. A few Social Democrats categorically rejected the war, such as Jean Jaurès , who was murdered on the eve of the outbreak of war. It was also widespread that a war would ultimately benefit the socialist movement as it would induce the masses to take revolutionary action. The October Revolution in Russia made this view more plausible.

First World War


The German peace organizations were surprised by the First World War and were initially largely helpless and inactive. On the one hand, they had hardly any reliable information about the actual foreign policy under Wilhelm II , had believed in the power of international treaties and interrelationships to prevent war, and did not question the national right of self-defense. Believing that other states had forced a defensive war on Germany, the board of the DFG emphasized the right to do so on August 15, 1914. At the same time, he countered nationalist intoxication and propaganda lies and promised to use his contacts abroad to clarify the causes of war and to build a lasting peace with other countries. In the first winter of the war, many local groups of the DFG organized humanitarian aid for areas affected by the war, such as East Prussia aid , and legal advice for refugees. In contrast, many members of the Association for International Understanding now advocated war as a national task.

In November 1914, the New Fatherland Federation was founded with the aim of promoting peaceful competition, international understanding and supranational unions. To this end, “a few should no longer decide about the weal and woe of hundreds of millions of people”. Domestic and foreign policy would have to be brought into line. In internal circulars, the federal government demanded parliamentary control of the Reich government, equal rights for all parties, social reforms and general education as a condition for closer cooperation between European states. In doing so, he gave up the previous principle of the peace societies not to interfere in the internal affairs of foreign states and approached the SPD program. Then SPD politicians such as Kurt Eisner , Eduard Bernstein and Rudolf Breitscheid , but also the DFG chairman Ludwig Quidde , the sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies , the writer Gustav Landauer and others joined the federal government. Even Albert Einstein was one of the members.

The federal government insisted that the German Reich only waged a legitimate defensive war in order to be able to influence the government and nationalist groups. The Foreign Office allowed some federal representatives to take part in a peace conference in The Hague in April 1915 in order to indirectly explore possibilities for negotiating with enemy states. The conference decided on a minimum program for a future peace order: It excluded territorial changes by either side without the consent of the population, called for joint guarantees for legal equality, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, a peaceful confederation, an international court of law, common sanctions for belligerent states and international disarmament treaties. After the conference, the federation tried to fend off the annexation of Belgium, French ore and coal regions and Russian territories, which the Pan-German Association demanded on May 20, 1915, and to achieve an early negotiated peace in the sense of the Hague Conferences with submissions and "memoranda" . Discussions about this took place u. a. with Kurt Riezler , the closest chancellor advisor. However, the covenant's writings were confiscated and banned, and some of its members were imprisoned.


The SPD faction in the Reichstag had on August 4, 1914, contrary to its program and its binding international commitments closed for the war credits and a truce voted. This broke up the Second International: for now the socialists of France also affirmed their country's declaration of war. The socialist pacifist Jean Jaurès was one of the few to oppose it publicly; he was murdered by a French nationalist in Paris just before the war began. In the SPD, party and parliamentary group chairman Hugo Haase opposed his party's approval of war financing, but was only able to win 13 supporters in the parliamentary group's decisive vote.

Few opponents of the war in the SPD initially formed up in the established on August 5 Group International , the Spartacus group and 1918 from the 1915 Spartacus League emerged. They strove for a socialist revolution that would also effectively prevent future wars. Karl Liebknecht (December 1914) and Otto Rühle (January 1915) were the first SPD members in the Reichstag to reject further war loans.

In June 1915 Hugo Haase and the well-known party theorists Karl Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein also spoke out against the war for the first time. On December 21, 1915, 20 SPD members in the Reichstag rejected the war loans: including Hugo Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann , Kurt Eisner , Heinrich Ströbel and Rudolf Breitscheid . They also called for a rapprochement with the "bourgeois pacifism" of the DFG, which had distanced itself from the imperial government's war aims. The forward recognized the "steadfastness" of the "bourgeois" pacifists in an article on July 14, 1916 self-critically. In 1917 Haase and 18 other SPD members were expelled from the SPD because of their anti-war policy. In April 1917 they founded the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) under the leadership of Hugo Haase; the Spartacus group joined this party. The USPD wanted the war to end soon by overthrowing the imperial government and the monarchy , while the MSPD continued to rely on peace through negotiations and compromises with the Army High Command .


November Revolution

The USPD has rapidly lost importance since its poor performance in the first general election on January 19, 1919. This weakened the socialist peace movement that had been strengthened in 1918 and helped to force the end of the war.

Weimar Republic

"Never again war", peace demonstration in the Berlin Lustgarten on July 10, 1922

After the November Revolution of 1918, liberal pacifists and socialist anti-militarists moved closer to one another. The peace movement of the Weimar Republic was mainly concentrated in left-wing liberalism , among former soldiers of the First World War and in art and culture. Well-known examples were:

Journalists on compliance with the Treaty of Versailles insisted, were of Weimar dishes that were often staffed with magistrates from imperial times, often because of treason and sentenced. In the spectacular Weltbühne process e.g. B. Ossietzky and Walter Kreiser were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment each for treason and betrayal of military secrets in November 1931 by the IV Criminal Senate of the Reich Court in Leipzig.

Treaty pacifism has initially gained momentum since US President Thomas Woodrow Wilson's 14-point program in 1918: As a result, the League of Nations was founded in 1919 and adopted at the Versailles Peace Conference . Although the USA never belonged to him and the Soviet Union only since 1934, he initially managed to defuse a few minor conflicts. However , he did not intervene in the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923, the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and the Sudeten crisis in 1938. Even Japan's occupation of Manchuria in northeast China in 1931 and Japan's attack on the rest of China in 1937 and Italy's attack on Abyssinia in 1935 showed the impotence of the League of Nations. The treaty pacifism failed since 1933 mainly because of Adolf Hitler's policies of extortion, occupation and aggression.

time of the nationalsocialism

For National Socialism , the peace movement was seen as an offshoot of an alleged " World Jewry " and helper of the "archenemy" France , who wanted to undermine and destroy national self-assertion and Germanic heroism through intellectual "brain softening". The nationalist associations and the SA 1923 formed Patriotic League of Struggle declared pacifism next to Marxism and Judaism the main enemy of the German element .

This view was propagated primarily by Alfred Rosenberg , editor of the Völkischer Beobachter since 1921. He saw “Jewish pacifism” embodied in particular by Albert Einstein, Erich Fried , Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster , Hellmut von Gerlach , George Grosz , Georg Moenius and Kurt Tucholsky. In his articles he continuously denigrated these people as “morality fanatics”, representatives of the “ war guilt lie ” and “successful defilers of the German people” and threatened them with violence. He also criticized the rapprochement between churches, Christian pacifists and the League of Nations, for example at the third Lake Constance conference of Catholic politicians in 1923 or the ecumenical congresses in Stockholm in 1927 and Prague in 1928, as a betrayal of the “German conscience and German interests”.

Adolf Hitler called pacifism in the first volume of his program Mein Kampf 1924 a "humanity drudgery" which is actually unnatural and criminal, since it places common humanity over the natural division of humanity into higher and lower races . He understood “humanity” as “an expression of a mixture of stupidity, cowardice and imagined better knowledge”.

Until 1929 the pacifist organizations hardly took the NSDAP seriously. Only individual DFG members like Erich Zeigner warned of their ascent. But after the Reichstag election of September 14, 1930, in which the NSDAP became the second largest party, Fritz Küster, as chairman of the DFG, called on all pacifists and their organizations to fight unconditionally against “revenge, fascism and war” and to “enlightenment about the true face of the Hitlerism ”. The DFG blamed the disagreement between the SPD and KPD for the National Socialists' electoral success and now continuously emphasized their armaments, war and dictatorship intentions. Küsters West German regional association organized counter rallies to NSDAP assemblies, also in East Germany, and partially successfully fended off disruptive actions of the SA against pacifist meetings.

From 1931, the DFG and the Peace Association of German Catholics prepared for future illegal work. The DFG called for a general strike , sabotage and an international trade boycott in the event that the NSDAP came to power , a cross-party defensive front against it and named the obstacles to this: Soviet obedience , social-fascism dogma and the KPD's unrealistic opposition to the Versailles Treaty, the cooperation of the SPD with bourgeois forces, their underestimation of Hitler and willingness to let him participate in government power. However, Ossietzky saw Hitler as an instrument for capitalist interests and shared the assumption, which was widespread among democrats at the time, that his participation in power would rather weaken and disenchant the NSDAP, i.e. it was temporary. In contrast, Ernst Toller and Walter Dirks reckoned with a dictatorship and an imminent war by Hitler against Poland and Russia, which could then only be overthrown militarily from outside. In 1932 the DFG magazine Das Andere Deutschland warned :

“This fascism is not only the death of democracy, but also the fanatical spark of the new world war. Anyone who underestimates their danger, who even humiliates themselves as a secretary of the National Socialist world threat, makes themselves complicit in the new world war! "

After Hitler took office as Chancellor on January 30, 1933, the DFG and its newspaper once again called for the formation of a united front for all anti-fascists. Members posted illegal posters for it in February 1933. On February 10th, Heinrich Ströbel wrote in the last issue of the other Germany :

"[...] Above all else, we have to ensure that the root causes of all the misfortunes of our time are uncovered and eliminated. The basic causes, however, were the spirit of violence that unleashed the war. In the trembling awe of the idol of nationalism . In the culpable thoughtlessness in which the term ' patriotism ' was accepted and passed on instead of being examined and declared: only those who love their fatherland benefit their fellow citizens who never allow themselves to be incited against other countries and fellow human beings, but who help, all economic ones to tear down political and intellectual border barriers so that the realm of reason, justice and goodness can finally be built! "

On February 20, some DFG leaders met in Berlin and discussed whether they should continue fighting or save their lives by fleeing Germany. Gerlach, Küster and Ossietzky wanted to wait for the Reichstag elections on March 5, while Otto Lehmann-Rußbüldt wanted to go into exile.

After the Reichstag fire , on February 28, 1933, the Nazi regime banned the KPD as well as the DFG and its affiliated Christian Social Party . The DFG newspaper Das Andere Deutschland was banned on March 3, the DFG office was closed on March 5, the files there were confiscated, the leaders imprisoned and interned in concentration camps , including Küster, Ossietzky, Gerhart Seger , Kurt Hiller and Paul von Schoenaich . Fled abroad and a. Harry Graf Kessler , Otto Lehmann-Rußbüldt, Ludwig Quidde, Helene Stöcker , Anna Siemsen .

The Peace Association of German Catholics was initially spared, as the NSDAP was still dependent on the support of the Catholic Center Party and did not want to jeopardize its negotiations on the Reich Concordat. On July 1st, the Peace League, which had sharply criticized the Center Party's approval of the Enabling Act , was banned along with other Catholic associations. Its members Friedrich Dessauer , Walter Dirks, Josef Knecht , P. Lenz, F. Müller and Franziskus Maria Stratmann were arrested. Lenz and Müller were able to flee abroad after their imprisonment, others like Bernhard Lichtenberg died of mistreatment while in custody or, like Richard Kuenzer, were executed as resistance activists. The German Catholic bishops did not support the Catholic pacifists despite insistent petitions from members of the Peace League.

When the books were burned on May 10, 1933 , works by pacifists from the Weimar period were particularly affected. In his speech on Berlin's Opernplatz, Joseph Goebbels mocked them as "rubbish and filth of Jewish asphalt literary figures " who were "allowed to trample on the national defenses and the honor of the German people with impunity". In the 8th edition of Meyer's Lexicon (1936–1942), the content of which had to be coordinated with the PPK censorship commission of the NSDAP and which is therefore called "Brauner Meyer" or "Nazi Meyer", the keyword pacifism was: [He] easily leads to treason , especially as a result of international cooperation ; the supporters of pacifism in Germany (pacifists) were mostly traitors.

On August 23, 1933, in addition to emigrated KPD and SPD members, the Nazi regime also citizenship leaders of the German peace movement, including Gerlach, Tucholsky, Emil Julius Gumbel , Berthold Jacob , Lehmann-Rußbüldt, and later Foerster, Hiller, Quidde. Gerhart Seger's wife and daughter, who had managed to escape to Prague in 1934, were taken into “protective custody”; However, the intense protests by Great Britain then prompted the German authorities to allow both of them to leave the country. The Gestapo kidnapped the pacifist Berthold Jacob from Switzerland on March 9, 1935 in order to prevent his reports of clandestine German armaments in the run-up to their newly introduced conscription. After a Swiss application for extradition, he was released, but kidnapped again from Portugal in 1941 and murdered in a concentration camp in 1944.

Emigrated and expatriated pacifists protested in 1935 against the reintroduced conscription and the associated threat of the death penalty for conscientious objectors and deserters. The German exile movement achieved in 1936 that Ossietzky, who had been imprisoned in concentration camps for years, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1935. This made the terror against dissenters under the Nazi regime public worldwide.

After the attack on Poland began , on September 4, 1939 , Fritz von Unruh, on behalf of all imprisoned or exiled pacifists, called on all German soldiers to refuse to command and to revolt against the Nazi regime with a leaflet dropped by French airmen in Poland:

“The Hitler War was unleashed by a handful of political adventurers in Berlin. This war is being waged against our people. [...]

Comrades! The Hitler system is not worth the bones of a single German soldier. Think of the sufferings and horrors since 1933, thinks of the persecuted, imprisoned, slain and secretly murdered.

The hour of reckoning has come! Get rid of the arsonists and tyrants. Fall into the arms of the warmongers. Confess yourselves to our people and to Germany. Fraternize with those who fight for freedom like us. "

Within Germany, mainly SPD and KPD supporters tried to work underground against the war. There were active conscientious objectors among the Jehovah's Witnesses and some religious socialists such as Günther Dehn and Georg Fritze . The Confessing Church supported Germany's war of aggression as well as the German Catholic episcopate. Very few Protestant or Catholic Christians such as Hermann Stöhr and Max Josef Metzger refused to do military service in this situation and were therefore executed.

post war period

After the Second World War , the Cold War between the superpowers USA and the Soviet Union led to the division of Europe into enemy blocs. This constellation determined all attempts at disarmament, demilitarization and peaceful conflict resolution for a long time and limited their radius of action, especially in divided Germany. Nonetheless, in some states of Western Europe, on various occasions, there were repeated mass protests in which conventional peace initiatives took part and in which new peace initiatives emerged.

West German “Without Me” movement

In the first years after the war the attitude of the Germans and most of the parties was determined by the slogan never again war . The effect of this was that conscientious objection was anchored as a fundamental right in the Basic Law , but national defense was not.

As a result of the founding of NATO in 1949, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and his party, the CDU , promoted the economic, political and military integration of the Federal Republic into the Western Alliance. In 1950 his plans for a West German "military contribution" became known. A heated debate about rearmament ensued .

In this context there were also extra-parliamentary protests ( without me movement ), supported by trade unions , intellectuals, Christian groups and women's groups (especially the West German women's peace movement ). The West German KPD , which was banned in 1956, was also involved. The EKD Council , which had rejected rearmament in 1950, declared in 1951 that it was helpless in relation to political developments ( impotence formula ).

The then Interior Minister Gustav Heinemann resigned because of Adenauer's secret offer of a military contribution to the USA without consulting the cabinet , left the CDU in 1952 and founded the All-German People's Party in order to allow the opposition to rearmament to become effective in parliament. However, the GVP achieved only a small percentage of the vote.

Christian Peace Conference

The Christian Peace Conference (CFK) was an international organization with a status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations ECOSOC.

Members were churches from the socialist countries as well as parishes and individuals from other countries. In view of its initiation with the help of socialist states, which otherwise discriminated against and persecuted Christians , and in view of its unmistakable proximity to Marxism , the Christian Peace Conference is sometimes seen in research as a “communist cover organization”.

Conciliar process

On the VI. In 1983 the World Council of Churches (WCC) assembly in Vancouver (Canada) decided to embark on the common path of learning on justice , peace and the integrity of creation called the conciliar process . The occasion was the increasing stationing of weapons of mass destruction, which was described as a crime against humanity. In order to be able to achieve more, the Christian churches wanted to work together and increasingly for peace.

Pax Christi

Pax Christi is the international Catholic organization of the peace movement that was founded in France at the end of the Second World War . In the Catholic Church in Germany, the debate about the exact content of Catholic pacifism got off to a very difficult start. It was initiated in 1963 by Pope Johannes XXIII. published encyclical Pacem in Terris and in the Council document Gaudium et Spes of 1965 declared the complete abolition of war as a binding goal. During the retrofitting debate about the NATO double resolution (1979-1984), Pax Christi clearly positioned himself on the side of the political peace movement.

Movement Against Nuclear Weapons

Great Britain

In 1955 and 1956, nuclear tests by the great powers increased sharply and raised concerns about radioactive hazards among the British population. The UK's nuclear disarmament movement of the 1950s and 1960s subsequently became one of the largest extra-parliamentary movements in the country's modern history. A central root of the Nuclear Disarmament Movement was radical pacifism and, to a lesser extent, the extra-parliamentary left.

The first impetus for the movement came in 1957 with the Hydrogen Bomb Campaign Committee from the parliamentary Labor Party. In 1957, many other smaller anti-nuclear and nuclear weapons testing protests sprang up outside of Labor. The Direct Action Committee had its roots mainly in pacifism. It also organized the first of the so-called Aldermaston marches in 1958. The National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests was then the predecessor of the CND.


On April 12, 1957, the Göttingen Declaration by 18 recognized West German nuclear scientists (including the Nobel Prize winners Max Born , Otto Hahn and Werner Heisenberg ) contradicted the government plans for nuclear weapons in Germany and to equip the Bundeswehr with nuclear weapons or to equip them within the framework of NATO on German soil to set up. In 1958, on the initiative of the SPD, DGB and church groups, the Committee on Fight against Nuclear Death was founded . This organized a series of mass demonstrations against nuclear weapons.

This opposition dissolved in 1959 after the SPD and DGB rejected a referendum and NATO denied the Bundeswehr its own nuclear weapons, but not their deployment under the key power of the USA.

As a line of continuity to this mass protest, the annual Easter marches established themselves in West Germany from 1960 . Later came the campaign for democracy and disarmament . With the magazine Atomzeitalter , the Göttingen scientists around Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker created a forum that upheld the criticism of the inclusion of nuclear weapons in western and eastern military and security policy and laid the basis for independent peace research in Germany.

Opposition to the Vietnam War

United States

Since the US entered the Vietnam War in 1963, protests against it began there and in Western Europe, which have intensified especially since the bombing of North Vietnam in 1965. These protests have become a major concern of student movements in the US and Western Europe. Thus, for the first time since 1945, an anti-war movement gained greater social and international relevance.

In the USA, the war opposition, the hippie and civil rights movements coincided in time and in some cases sociologically. Many opponents of the Vietnam War interpreted the US engagement in Indochina as an imperialist war of aggression and viewed the military actions of the North Vietnamese FNL as well as other liberation movements in countries of the so-called Third World as legitimate self-defense; some gave material support to such groups.

The uncensored television reports, which showed realistic images of the war atrocities and suffering of the civilian population of Vietnam, played an important role in spreading this war opposition. The discovery of a fictitious cause of war ( Tonkin incident ), the use of weapons contrary to international law (e.g. Agent Orange , napalm , defoliation), and war crimes such as the My Lai massacre contributed to the rejection of this war. The loss-making Tet offensive of the NFL in 1968 caused a change of opinion in the USA: A majority of the population now regarded the military engagement of the USA as hopeless, the often repeated promises of an imminent victory as implausible, and demanded that the hostilities cease as soon as possible. The protest against Richard Nixon's war policies resulted in the largest mass incarceration in American history in May 1971, when more than 12,000 protesters were detained in Washington, DC .

The war opponents in the USA did not agree on the nature and goals of their protest actions. Liberal activists only wanted to achieve the withdrawal of the ground troops and considered radical anti-war actions to be a hindrance, as they would rather repel the majority of the population. The increasing rejection of the Vietnam War in the USA, the war fatigue of the fighting US soldiers, military successes of the Viet Cong and the election of the successor to US President Lyndon B. Johnson contributed to the US withdrawing from Vietnam by 1974. By then around 50,000 conscientious objectors had fled to neighboring Canada . Conscription was abolished in the USA after the experience with the Vietnam protests.

Federal Republic of Germany

Here the opposition to the Vietnam War was a main concern of the APO . The Socialist German Student Union (SDS), headed by Rudi Dutschke , carried out a major Vietnam Congress in West Berlin in February 1968 , which ended with the largest demonstration against this war to date.

In connection with this opposition, conscientious objection in West Germany increased enormously. In 1968 around 12,000 (1967: 6,000) conscripts refused to participate in the Bundeswehr training, including four times as many soldiers as in 1967, and by 1972 the total tripled again. At the same time, many of the refusals' requests were no longer pacifist in principle, but were justified politically and depending on the situation. Some also refused to obey orders and publicly burned their military ID cards and uniforms.

As a result of this development, there were considerations of a reform of the previous KDV recognition procedure in the SPD and FDP. The political education of soldiers should also be improved.

New peace movement

With the development of new types of weapons, but especially since the icing of the relations between the superpowers as a result of the NATO double resolution on December 12, 1979 and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union on December 25, 1979, a new, broader and more complex peace movement emerged in Western Europe and North America that also radiated into the Eastern Bloc.

Against the neutron bomb in the USA

From 1977 onwards, the development of the neutron bomb in the USA triggered a worldwide boom in the peace movement. Many people felt their supposed ability to destroy life, but to spare buildings and materials, as a "perversion of human thought" ( Egon Bahr ). As a typical form of protest against this bomb, the die -in developed in the USA and Australia , in which the demonstrators suddenly lay down on the ground as if dead at a signal.

Against the NATO double decision

Protesters burn the US flag in front of a US military base in Germany, December 1982

From 1979 to 1983 there were strong protests against NATO's double decision and nuclear armament in Western Europe and the USA. The double decision provided for the stationing of the nuclear-armed US medium-range missiles Pershing II and cruise missiles BGM-109G Cruise Missile in five NATO countries in Western Europe in response to the stationing of the new Soviet SS 20 missiles. The peace movement criticized the fact that American medium-range weapons were able to hit the Soviet capital with almost no warning. Many referred to the publicly discussed plan of Pentagon strategists such as Colin S. Gray in the USA to destroy the Soviet command centers by means of a surprise attack in a nuclear war and so largely limit Soviet retaliatory strikes to Europe. Between 1980 and 1983, in the middle of the Cold War , over four million people signed the Krefeld appeal against the stationing of American medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe. In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which boiled down to making US territory invulnerable with the help of anti-missile missiles and space-based laser weapons. The retrofitting decision was also controversial in the trade unions of the DGB , whose members and youth organizations partly sympathized with the peace movement. While IG-Metall chairman Eugen Loderer was in favor of retrofitting, other voices in the IGM called for disarmament and the conversion of German armaments to civilian production. The relevant peace activities of the DKP and its sub-organizations were in line with the “peace struggle” of the GDR and were guided by the peace council there . This was subordinate to the Foreign Information Department in the Central Committee of the SED .

Dove of peace: Sign of many peace demonstrations from 1980–1984

One of the first major peace demonstrations took place on the occasion of the German Evangelical Church Congress in June 1981 in Hamburg . On October 10, 1981 , more than 300,000 people demonstrated peacefully against nuclear weapons in Bonn's Hofgarten; 200,000 people demonstrated in Brussels on October 25, 1981, and 400,000 people demonstrated in Amsterdam on November 21 . In 1982, on the occasion of a state visit by US President Ronald Reagan, large peace demonstrations took place in Bonn and Berlin , on June 10th on the Bonn Rhine meadows with around 500,000 and on June 11th in Berlin with around 50,000 people. The Easter marches regularly mobilized hundreds of thousands in numerous cities and regions of western Germany from 1981 to 1984. At the German Evangelical Church Congress (DEKT) in Hanover in 1983 there were again hundreds of thousands, and on October 22, 1983 a total of 1.3 million people demonstrated in Bonn , Berlin, Hamburg and between Stuttgart and Ulm. A continuous human chain was created between Stuttgart and Ulm . Further large-scale demonstrations followed in Brussels (on October 23, 1983, with 400,000 people) and in The Hague (on October 29, 1983, with 550,000 people). At the demonstrations, u. a. Gert Bastian , Joseph Beuys , Heinrich Böll , Willy Brandt , Helmut Gollwitzer , Günter Grass , Petra Kelly , Oskar Lafontaine , Martin Niemöller , Horst-Eberhard Richter and Dorothee Sölle . The Bots , Franz Josef Degenhardt , Maria Farantouri , Hanns Dieter Hüsch , Fasia Jansen , Hannes Wader , Bettina Wegner and other musicians and songwriters took part in the rallies with their own songs. The organizers included Bastian, Kelly, Jo Leinen , Gunnar Matthiessen , Eva Quistorp , Josef Weber and Andreas Zumach .

A variety of nonviolent actions were developed, which also found support in the population, for example sit-downs in front of nuclear sites and missile defense positions, "arms tax refusal", campaigns against arms exports, " fasting for peace", human chains .

“Concert blockade” by the group Lebenslaute
Peace demonstration on October 10, 1981
Protests against the NATO double resolution in The Hague in October 1983

For example, the protests and non-violent sit -ins at the Pershing II depot on the Mutlanger Heide became known . In the small town with about 5500 inhabitants on the Swabian Alb there were peace campaigns for years. A group of activists did not want to leave Mutlangen until the Pershing II nuclear weapons were removed; they lived in the Mutlangen press hut , which the residents made available. Also known were the "senior citizens 'blockade" (600 elderly people blocked the base for several days), the "concert blockade of the voices of life" (a whole symphony orchestra blocked the gates to the rocket location while playing music) and the "judges' blockade" (around 20 judges decided to exercise the right of resistance according to the Basic Law - Article 20 above Section 240 of the Criminal Code ( coercion ). On November 22, 1983, tens of thousands of people tried to block the German Bundestag in Bonn in violation of the ban mile . Nevertheless, the Bundestag voted against numerous votes from the SPD and the votes of the Greens to deploy the missile.

In 1986, 96 cruise missiles with nuclear warheads were deployed in the Hunsrück on the Pydna , secured by US forces . The protest of the population culminated on October 11, 1986 in the largest demonstration in the Hunsrück. Around 200,000 people, headed by the peace activist and Protestant pastor August Dahl , protested peacefully against the deployment of the cruise missiles. From 1983 to 1993 women's resistance camps were held in Reckershausen against the stationing and against the link between militarism and sexism. From these camps, to which women were mobilized from all over Germany, but also from other countries, a variety of feminist protest actions originated.

In principle, protests were directed against nuclear armament as a whole, albeit to a lesser extent against those of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc than those in their own country. Most of the supporters of the peace movement were of the opinion that every people should primarily deal with disarmament in their own country. Thorsten Bonacker from the Center for Conflict Research at the University of Marburg stated that the peace movement had always directed its political demands primarily to the western side.

The peace movement led to the founding of the Green Party in 1980 . In 1981, the former General Gert Bastian founded the Generals for Peace group . Some of the members were, as it turned out later, under the influence of the MfS of the GDR. The Peace List was founded in June 1984 and ran in the same year for the European elections and in 1987 for the federal elections, but it was unable to win any seats.

List of selected outstanding demonstrations and actions against retrofitting in the Federal Republic of Germany
date place Estimated number of participants Occasion, event, motto
June 20, 1981 Hamburg 120,000 19th Evangelical Church Congress . “Fear, nuclear death threatens us all.” For a nuclear weapons-free zone in Europe and against retrofitting.
October 10, 1981 Bonn 350,000 Ronald Reagan's State Visit. Peace demonstration in Bonn's Hofgarten in 1981 : “Get up! For the peace"
November 21, 1981 Amsterdam 400,000 Interchurch Peace Council : "Get rid of nuclear weapons, first in the Netherlands!"
May 15, 1982 Vienna 70,000 Peace march of 260 organizations; "Be indignant!"
June 10, 1982 Bonn 500,000 Peace demonstration in Bonn in 1982
June 12, 1982 New York City 1 million Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign : No Nukes Rally (largest demonstration in the US to date)
August 1-8, 1982 Engstingen-Haid 700, divided into 60 reference groups Sit blockade at the special ammunition dump Golf . First blockade of a nuclear weapons warehouse in the Federal Republic.
September 11, 1982 Bochum 200,000 Artist for Peace
September 1st to 3rd, 1983 Mutlanger Heath 1000 " Prominent blockade " on anti-war day in front of one of the three stationing locations of the Pershing II. Prelude to the campaign " Civil disobedience to disarmament"
October 22, 1983 nationwide and throughout Europe D: 1.3 million Day of action against retrofitting in the “ hot autumn ”, including the human chain from Stuttgart to Neu-Ulm and the third large peace demonstration in Bonn's Hofgarten
October 29, 1983 Western Europe The Hague: 550,000; Lisbon: 200,000; Copenhagen: 100,000; Vienna: 70,000; other cities: 100,000

In the DDR

The patch swords to plowshares as a symbol of the independent GDR peace movement

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled state and society in the GDR, understood its policy as a policy of peace. The instruments of the party-controlled peace movement were the Peace Council of the GDR , the Berlin Conference of European Catholics and the Christian Peace Conference .

Since the early 1960s, an independent, pacifist-oriented peace movement has developed around the Protestant church . Discussion papers on conscientious objection and methods of nonviolent defense were circulating, which finally inspired a non-state-controlled peace movement in the early 1980s (“ Swords to Plowshares ”).
Not least the crackdown on the Prague Spring in August 1968 gave this movement a boost. In its turn against the armament of the Warsaw Pact , it formed an important nucleus for a loosely organized opposition in the real socialist part of Germany. The
patch with the symbol of the bronze sculpture in front of the UN "Swords to Plowshares" by Yevgeny Wuchetsch (a gift from the Soviet Union in 1959), which was mostly worn by young people from the intellectual blues scene , became public as an expression of the longing for peace under the sign of cross-system nuclear armament (see also NATO double decision ) carried. The state reacted repressively because the criticism was also directed against its own armament. Many teenagers who did not remove the patch were z. B. with de-registration , non-admission to the Abitur, punitive transfer from companies, etc. strictly sanctioned. In the 1980s, the decades of peace in November were the culmination of this movement. a. the blues masses .

The only approved demonstration by the opposition took place in the GDR, the 1987 Olof Palme Peace March . The prayers for peace that have been taking place in the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig since the early 1980s became the starting point for the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig and other places in 1989 . The fact that the turning point in the GDR was possible in 1989 without any fatalities is attributed not least to the preparatory work and continuity of peace initiatives such as the Church from Below or the activities of the environmental library in the GDR.

After the cold war

The end of the bloc antagonism through the dissolution of the USSR in 1990 created room for maneuver for peaceful conflict resolution, which led to the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa . Hopes for further disarmament and an international effort to overcome the global poverty gap were not fulfilled. Instead, new conflicts, threats and developments emerged, including ethnic displacement and approaches to genocide in the Balkans, wars of intervention and the Bundeswehr's first military deployment since its foundation.

Some of the extra-parliamentary peace initiatives showed the earlier reaction patterns learned during the Cold War, while others sought new approaches. The answers and alternatives were more differentiated and were only occasionally supported by mass protests.


France had built up its own nuclear force and armaments industry since the 1950s. There was also no mass protest against nuclear tests like in Great Britain. The Socialist Party advocated unlike other European left parties the NATO double-track decision.

Nevertheless, several independent peace initiatives emerged in the 1980s and thereafter: the Coordination française pour la Décennie pour la culture de la non-violence et de la paix, Mouvement pour une alternative non-violente (MAN), and the Union pacifiste de France .

Opposition to the Second Gulf War

Demonstration against the Second Gulf War , Venice 1990

The Second Gulf War in 1990/91 ended the hope of many for a "peace dividend" that had been promised from the end of the East-West conflict. Millions of people worldwide protested against this war, which the USA was able to legitimize in the UN and which had the military aim of driving the Iraqi occupation forces out of Kuwait . However, "the realization dawned that the form of protest of the demonstration had come to a temporary end and that the path from protesting to positive peace (Buro 1997) had to be followed more consistently". The theme of the peace movement of the 1990s was the connection between protest against military and advocacy for civil conflict management.

The war in Yugoslavia posed a major challenge and led to heated disputes between bellicists and pacifists within the peace movement . There were no longer any major central demonstrations worth mentioning, but there were many decentralized activities: a wide range of aid measures for war refugees, support for local conscientious objectors, concrete reconciliation projects in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. However, the brutal Bosnian war also showed a certain helplessness of the new peace movement. How peacemaking action can look like before, during and after the “new wars” had to and must be further developed as a new challenge. Approaches to this are being tested under the heading of civil conflict management and civil peace service .

Opposition to the Kosovo War

NATO's deployment in Kosovo and against (remaining) Yugoslavia in 1999 (referred to as humanitarian intervention ), which is very controversial under international law , again triggered strong public protests by the peace movement.

Global Movement Against the Iraq War 2003

Peace rally in the USA
Antiwar demonstrators for the second inauguration of George W. Bush on January 20, 2005

In 2003 the peace movement acted globally on an unprecedented scale. All over the world demonstrations took place against the Iraq war of the USA and its allies, this time not legitimized by the UN . On February 15, 2003, over ten million people worldwide demonstrated against the impending Iraq war, most of them in Europe. In Berlin alone around 500,000 people took to the streets.

On “Day X” of the start of the bombing, millions of people again demonstrated against it. In many German cities, schoolchildren took part during their school days.

Rallies on January 20 in Washington, DC on the occasion of the inauguration of George W. Bush had also been peace demonstrations .

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict , the Shalom Achshaw peace movement in Israel is committed to peace and historic reconciliation with the Palestinian people.

One of numerous civil groups that advocate a two-state solution is the bi-national initiative “Two States, One Homeland”, founded in 2012, whose proposed goal is a confederate model. She is supported, for example, by the American rabbi Shlomo Riskin .


Criticism of the EU draft constitution

In 2004 and 2005, the Western European peace movement made the draft of an EU constitution , especially its military and defense policy, the main theme of its protests. Criticized were, for example, the stipulation of possible global EU combat missions, the expansion of the range of operations of a European army and an armament obligation for the individual states (Article I-41 of the EU constitution: the member states undertake to gradually improve their military capabilities ).

Unlike the Benelux countries and France, however, a corresponding awareness- raising campaign was hardly ever heard by the public in Germany . In national referendums in France (May 2005) and the Netherlands (June 2005), the peace movements there allied themselves with other constitutional opponents. The rejection and criticism met with broad approval.

Protests against public vows

Since the reintroduction of public swearing-in of recruits of the Bundeswehr (1977), this practice has met with regular protests from the peace movement and skepticism in some media. (See Solemn Vow .)

Single campaigns

Photo of a demo transparency with the inscription Bombing for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity (seen as advertising for a book on October 5, 2013 in Essen)

Individual groups in the peace movement concentrate on issues such as the abolition of certain branches of arms, such as the Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War or the International Campaign for the Ban on Landmines . This citizens' initiative, which was founded in 1992, reached an international agreement to ban landmines in five years , which has so far been signed by 40 mostly smaller states affected by the consequences of such weapons: the Ottawa Convention . The initiative founded by Jody Williams therefore received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Campaigns against cluster munitions are increasing the pressure on other countries - especially the main arms exporters USA, Russia and China - to agree to such prohibition treaties as a result of the considerable approval of the world public. They also accompany criticism of wars in which these types of weapons were and are used, e.g. B. the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008 Caucasus conflict .



This criticism equates pacifism and appeasement , that is, a compliant foreign policy that is ready to come to an understanding vis-à-vis war-ready dictatorships, and accuses their supporters of strengthening them, making their elimination more difficult and thus promoting war as a whole.

In this sense, Winston Churchill called pacifist students at Oxford University, who had published a resolution to come to an understanding with Nazi Germany in 1933, "inexperienced, wrongly educated youth" whose attitude was a "very worrying and disgusting symptom". The British liberal Robert Bernays reported to the British House of Commons in 1934 about the reactions of a National Socialist to this Oxford peace resolution during his visit to Germany:

“He was asking about this pacifist motion and I tried to explain it to him. There was an ugly gleam in his eye when he said, 'The fact is that you English are soft'. Then I realized that the world enemies of peace might be the pacifists. "

The West German peace movement of the 1980s accused its political opponents of cross-party ethical naivete towards the Soviet Union. Historical comparisons were also made. Heiner Geißler (CDU) declared on June 15, 1983 in the Bundestag:

"The pacifism of the 30s, which in its ethical justification differs little from what we have to take note of in the justification of today's pacifism, it was this pacifism of the 30s that made Auschwitz possible."

Geissler met with violent opposition from the SPD and the Greens; That's why Willy Brandt described him in 1985 in an election debate as the “worst agitator since Goebbels ”.

In the Bosnia and Kosovo conflict of the 1990s, similar accusations were made against the German peace movement:

“The lack of political will to take effective action in the face of Serbian aggression and the so-called ethnic cleansing policy gives cause for concern, precisely because of the parallels with the Western appeasement policy of the 1930s. The embarrassment of the peace movement and pacifism in the face of this point also point back to these experiences. "

Wolf Biermann criticized the German movement against the Iraq war of 2003 by referring to the threat to Israel from Saddam Hussein's rocket attacks. With allusion to the dictum of Joseph Goebbels on " total war ", he warned against a "total peace", i. H. a peace at all costs.

Critics also accuse Western peace movements of a general wrong perception of the causes of war and of conspiracy theoretic thinking:

"In fact, the relative success of the peace movement was based not least on the popularity of conspiracy-theoretical explanatory models, which traced the whole of Western politics back to the intrigues of the military-industrial complex and presented the parliamentary political level as a mere facade."

Remote control, abuse, one-sidedness

In domestic politics, peace movements are often portrayed as the extended arm of hostile states. They would be ideologically influenced by them, personally controlled or subverted and used politically to enforce their interests. This reproach was made in the 1950s for groups within the then Western opposition to nuclear weapons which, like the World Peace Council, were largely led by communist intellectuals (and financed by the Soviet Union). These also met with criticism within the peace movement of the time, as they tried to discredit and isolate voices critical of the Soviet Union such as Bertrand Russell . The World Peace Council of the 1950s was accused of being pro-communist and anti-American.

Various authors described the influence of the SED and MfS on the West German anti-rearmament movement of the 1980s, especially on some leadership structures. The influence of groups close to the DKP was also criticized in the peace movement itself at that time and fought against organizationally. So warned Rudolf Bahro before discredit the entire movement by a lack of distinction between communist groups.

Even without the direct influence of groups that are assigned to the camp of the opposing state, peace movements often meet with criticism for failing to comment on other conflicts. They are often accused of taking sides either directly or indirectly in a particular political direction. The West German peace movement of the 1980s was also accused of anti-Americanism and said that it was more reluctant to criticize conflicts and wars in the Soviet Union. Wolf Biermann wrote:

“Of course, I get annoyed when hypocrisy gets into this peace front like syphilis, because there are too many people who are basically only for disarmament in the West, [...] but who believe that the arms are in the East for peace, humanity, humanism and the salvation of socialism. "

A new investigation in the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte contradicts the claim that the peace movement allowed itself to be instrumentalized by the Soviet Union for its purposes. An analysis of the relevant documents in Russian archives shows that the Soviet functionaries, who are always under pressure to succeed, have hyped every single presence of one of their informants during a discussion with West German peace activists as a successful influence. These reports are anything but objective.

Controversial forms of protest

Some forms of demonstration by peace movements were judged on the one hand to be forms of civil disobedience covered by the right of resistance , and on the other hand as a violation of current criminal law . Some courts condemned sit-downs by peace protesters as coercion .

The Memmingen district court justified this on November 20, 1984 as follows:

“Anyone who is politically active by sitting blockades violates the democratic rules of the game and endangers an orderly coexistence. This does not gain a tolerable quality because the concerns of the blockers are to be taken seriously. "

The Federal Court of Justice said in a judgment of May 5, 1988:

"The recognition of (long-distance) goals that can be advertised with the means of Section 240 (1) StGB would lead to the risk of a radicalization of the political debate, which is unacceptable to a democratic constitutional state."

On 10 January 1995, the decision Constitutional Court : The interpretation of the concept of violence in § 240, Abs. 1 of the Criminal Code by the criminal courts [in violation] against Article 103 of. Para. 2 GG . , so the constitutional judges in their judgment. In the specific case of sit-ins, the act was not punishable against the background of the principle of certainty ( Article 103, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law), since the reprehensibility of the means in connection with the proportionality of the punishment is indefinite and therefore questionable, and the concept of violence is overstretched in Section 240 of the Criminal Code, referring to the form of sit-in blockades used in one of the first blockades of the peace movement in front of the Gulf nuclear weapons camp or the Eberhard Finckh barracks, was ultimately unconstitutional .

Constitutional court ruling from 1995:

“Coercive effects that are not based on the use of physical strength but on mental and spiritual influence [...] do not fulfill [... the constituent feature of ...] the use of force. ... The interpretation of the concept of violence in the highest court case law consequently has precisely those effects which Article 103, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law is intended to prevent . It is no longer possible to foresee with sufficient certainty which physical behavior, which psychologically prevents others from getting their way through, should be prohibited and which should not. In the area in which the violence only exists in physical presence and the coercive effect on the coercive is only of a psychological nature, criminal liability is no longer generally and abstractly by the legislature before the act, but after the act in the specific case by the judge based on his conviction determined by the criminality of an act. "

Due to the BVerfG judgment of 1995, thousands of corresponding judgments, which had been pronounced over the years in connection with sit-downs in front of many other military institutions, authorities, nuclear power plants or at other demonstration events in the Federal Republic, had to be revised. Any fines already paid were reimbursed when a retrial was applied for .

See also the Laepple judgment .

The arguments of constitutional and international law of the West German peace movement also remained controversial.

Relationship with Israel

Since the 1960s, the relationship between peace movements and the ongoing Middle East conflict has led to internal controversies and external criticism .

On the occasion of its protests against the US war against the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1991 ( Second Gulf War ), the German peace movement was accused of taking a special national route. You have lost reputation because of an undifferentiated statement against the existential fear of the Israeli people.

Ilka Schröder , a non-party member of the European Parliament, wrote in an open letter to peace protesters in February 2003:

“In the run-up to the demonstration, it became clear that groups were also mobilizing there whose political worldview is determined by nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. [...] However, the demonstration was mainly characterized by a dangerous mixture of anti-Americanism and political naivete. "

Michael Lerner described the conflict of goals for the situation in the USA in 2003 as follows:

“It is, however, if one condemns Ariel Sharon's repressive measures against the Palestinian people. It is a different matter if one denies the State of Israel the right to exist. And that's exactly what parts of Answer do, and with them parts of the American peace movement. [...] Only when they overcome anti-Semitism will the peace movement become stronger and more successful. "


See also


General Federal Republic of Germany

  • Helmut Donath , Karl Holl (ed.): The peace movement. Organized pacifism in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Hermes Handlexikon, Düsseldorf 1983, ISBN 3-612-10024-6 .
  • Jan Große Nobis: Peace! - A short history of the West German peace movement , kindle edition, Münster 2001/2005 ( text online , subject to a charge)
  • Wolfram Beyer : Pacifism and Antimilitarism. An introduction to the history of ideas . Butterfly, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-89657-666-8 (= ).


  • André Durand : Gustave Moynier and the peace societies. In: International Review of the Red Cross. No. 314, pp. 532-550 ( text online, October 31, 1996 ).
  • Alfred Hermann Fried : Handbook of the Peace Movement , 2 volumes, Berlin / Leipzig 1911, 2nd edition 1913, reprinted New York / London 1972
  • Karlheinz Lipp , Reinhold Lütgemeier-Davin, Holger Nehring (eds.): Peace and Peace Movements in Germany 1892–1992. A reader . Klartext, Essen 2010. ISBN 978-3-8375-0382-1
  • Hans Wehberg: The international peace movement. In: Staatsbürgerbibliothek Issue 22, Volksvereins-Verlag GmbH, Mönchengladbach 1911

Between the world wars


  • Christoph Butterwegge (Ed.): Peace Movement - What Now? Problems and prospects after the missile deployment. VSA, Hamburg 1986, ISBN 3-87975-260-5 .
  • Christoph Butterwegge, Bernhard W. Docke , Wolfgang Hachmeister: Criminalization of the Peace Movement: Internal Deterrence? Theurer , Bremen 1985, ISBN 3-8161-3010-0 .
  • Jan Hansen: Do missiles create jobs? The dispute over retrofitting and armament conversion in the trade unions (around 1979 to 1983) , in: Arbeit - Bewegungs - Geschichte , Issue II / 2016.
  • Uli Jäger, Michael Schmid-Vöhringer: "We will not rest ...": The peace movement in the Federal Republic of Germany 1945–1982. History, documents, perspectives. Tübingen 1982, ISBN 3-922833-20-9 .
  • Lorenz Knorr: History of the peace movement in the Federal Republic. Cologne 1983, ISBN 3-7609-0900-0 .
  • Rüdiger Lison: Scientists on Peace and Disarmament. 2nd expanded edition, Sokoop, Duisburg 1986, ISBN 3-921473-42-X .
  • Andreas Maislinger: Peace Movement in a Neutral Country. To the new peace movement in Austria. In: Media Power in the North-South Conflict. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-518-11166-3 .
  • Initiative Socialist Forum: The closer you look, the more strange it looks back: Peace. On the criticism of the German peace movement. Ca-Ira, Freiburg 1984, ISBN 3924627010
  • Hans A. Pestalozzi, Ralf Schlegel, Adolf Bachmann (eds.): Peace in Germany. The peace movement: how it became, what it is, what it can become. Goldmann, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-442-11341-5
  • Thomas Klein: Peace and Justice. The politicization of the Independent Peace Movement in East Berlin during the 1980s. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar, 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-02506-9 .

since 1990

  • Thomas Leif: The strategic powerlessness of the peace movement: Communication and decision-making structures in the eighties. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1990, ISBN 3-531-12149-9 .
  • Rüdiger Schmitt: The peace movement in the Federal Republic of Germany: causes and conditions of the mobilization of a new social movement. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1990, ISBN 3-531-12153-7 .
  • Andreas Buro : The dead live longer: The peace movement. From East-West Confrontation to Civil Conflict Management , Idstein 1997, ISBN 3-929522-42-X .
  • Albrecht Behmel : The Central European Debate in the Federal Republic of Germany: Between Peace Movement, Cultural Identity and the German Question , Ibidem-Verlag, Hannover 2011
  • Michael Ploetz, Hans-Peter Müller: Remote-controlled peace movement ?. GDR and USSR in the fight against the NATO double decision (= dictatorship and resistance . Vol. 6). Lit., Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7235-1 .

Relationship with Israel

  • Helmut Kellershohn : “Peace or 'Save Israel'?” The left critics of the peace movement and their contribution to the new German normality. A critical review of the Gulf War debate (DISS Texts No. 24), Duisburg 1992
  • Bernhard Schmid: The war and the critics. The reality in the Middle East as a projection surface for anti-Germans, anti-imperialists, anti-Semites and others. Münster 2006, ISBN 978-3-89771-029-0 .

Web links

Commons : Peace Demonstrations  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Peace Movement  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations



Peace Organizations in Germany

Peace Organizations in Austria

International peace organizations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 7.
  2. Gerhard Strauss, Ulrike Hass, Ulrike Hass-Zumkehr, Gisela Harras: Controversial Words from Agitation to Zeitgeist , 1989, p. 284
  3. ^ Dietrich R. Quanz: Civic Pacifism and Sports-Based Internationalism: Framework for the Founding of the International Olympic Committee. Olympika 1993 =
  4. ^ Arnd Krüger : The notions of peace of selected leaders of the Olympic movement and their realization in the Olympic Games , in: M. Ilmarinen (ed.): Sport and International Understanding. Berlin: Springer 1984, 116-120.
  5. Wolfram Beyer : What actually is pacifism? - To clarify a political term , in: Lexikon der Anarchy , revised text available online ( Memento from May 19, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 99f
  7. "The Commandment of the Hour". Leipziger Volkszeitung June 19, 1915. After D. Engelmann, H. Naumann: Hugo Haase. Berlin: Ed. New ways 1999, p. 31 f., 123 f.
  8. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 246 f.
  9. ^ Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf , Munich 1939, p. 148f; quoted from Karl Holl, Wolfram Wette (Ed.): Pacifism in the Weimar Republic . Paderborn 1981, p. 13
  10. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 239
  11. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 240
  12. quoted from Wolfgang Benz: Pazifismus in Deutschland , Fischer TB 4362, ISBN 3-596-24362-9 , p. 206 f.
  13. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 248
  14. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 249 f.
  15. Thomas Keiderling: Encyclopedists and Lexica in the Service of the Dictatorship? The publishers FA Brockhaus and Bibliographisches Institut ("Meyer") during National Socialism. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1/2012, Munich, pp. 69–92
  16. quoted from Karl Holl, Wolfram Wette (ed.): Pacifism in the Weimar Republic . Paderborn 1981, p. 15 f.
  17. ^ Dieter Riesenberger: History of the peace movement in Germany. From the beginning until 1933. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, p. 250 f.
  18. quoted from Wolfgang Benz: Pazifismus in Deutschland , Fischer TB 4362, p. 218
  19. Clemens Vollnhals , 1996: The Church Policy of SED and State Security: an interim balance sheet , Volume 7 of Analyzes and Documents, Ch. Links Verlag, ISBN 3-86153-122-4 , p. 116 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  20. ^ Heinrich August Winkler : FAZ, December 5, 1991
  21. Holger Kremser (1993): The legal status of the Protestant churches in the GDR and the new unity of the EKD. JCB Mohr, Tuebingen. P. 157 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  22. Nobody takes Heiner from us . In: Der Spiegel . No. 50 , 1991 ( online ).
  23. Dirk Banse, Uwe Müller: The secret of the CDU chronicler. In: . November 17, 2010, accessed October 7, 2018 .
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  28. ^ Richard KS Taylor: Against the Bomb , pp. 5 f.
  29. ^ of April 10, 2007 Franz Walter : Aufstand der Atomforscher
  30. Marc Frey: History of the Vietnam War. Munich 2006, pp. 167-172; Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey: The 1968 movement: Germany, Western Europe, USA. Beck, 4th edition, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-406-47983-9 , p. 73
  31. Lawrence Roberts: Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in US History? In the New York Times, August 6, 2020.
    cf. Lawrence Roberts: Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America's Biggest Mass Arrest. Houghton Mifflin, New York 2020, ISBN 9781328766724 .
  32. ^ Simon Hall: Peace and Freedom - The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements in the 1960s. 2006, p. 158
  33. Lothar Schröter: NATO in the Cold War. The history of the North Atlantic Pact up to the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty - a Chronicle , Vol. 2: 1976–1991 . Homilius, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-89706-915-2 , p. 755.
  34. ^ Colin S. Gray, Keith Payne: Victory is possible. In: Foreign Policy, Washington, No. 39 / 1980. Translated and cited by Günter Neuberger: Der Plan Euroshima; from speeches and writings by Ronald Reagan, Alexander Haig, Caspar Weinberger and others. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1982, ISBN 3760906885 , p. 24
  35. Karl-Wilhelm Gellissen: The Krefelder Appell ( Memento from November 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), in: Die Heimat Volume 77/2006, p. 161. Comprehensive illustrated documentation (PDF file; 235 kB), accessed on 28. December 2016.
  36. Cf. Ulf Teichmann: New Social Movement in the Steel Works? Protests for Peace and Work in the Ruhr Area (1981-1984) , in: Work - Movement - History , Issue III / 2018, pp. 91–108; and Jan Hansen: Do missiles create jobs? The dispute over retrofitting and armament conversion in the trade unions (around 1979 to 1983) , in: Arbeit - Bewegungs - Geschichte , Issue II / 2016.
  37. Remote controlled peace movement? Article on the research project “Plan and Reality: The West German Peace Movement in the Political Calculus of the SED Leadership” at the Free University of Berlin, accessed on November 28, 2014
  38. Mutlangen press hut
  39. ^ Concert blockade of the Lebenslaute
  40. Peace Movement | Several thousand participants at Easter marches , in Handelsblatt from April 19, 2014
  41. ^ Friso Wielenga : The Netherlands: Politics and political culture in the 20th century. Waxmann, 2008, ISBN 3-8309-1844-5 , p. 364 f.
  42. Manfried Rauchsteiner, Thomas Desch: Reflections on peace. Deuticke, 1987, ISBN 3-7005-4578-9 , p. 367
  43. Detlev Preuße: Upheaval from Below: The Self-Liberation of Central and Eastern Europe and the End of the Soviet Union. Springer VS, 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-04971-3 , p. 220.
  44. 700 people and 60 reference groups , Berghof Foundation
  45. Udo Leuschner: Image selection - The fight against "retrofitting"
  46. Documentation of the Campaign Civil Disobedience to Disarmament.
  47. Gunilla Budde, Eckart Conze, Cornelia Rauh : The bourgeoisie after the bourgeois age: models and practice since 1945. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-525-36850-3 , p. 141.
  48. 30 years ago: Biggest peace demonstrations in German history , Network Peace Cooperative, October 22, 2013
  49. Michael Ploetz, Hans-Peter Müller (Ed.): Remote-controlled peace movement? Münster 2004, p. 342
  50. ^ Two States One Homeland, Together and Separate. 2015, accessed September 4, 2017 .
  51. Documented: Two States, One Home. In: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Israel Office. May 4, 2017, accessed on September 4, 2017 (translation of the founding document).
  52. ^ Inge Günther: Two states, one home. In: Frankfurter Rundschau . September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2017 .
  53. ^ Toi Staff: Settlers, Palestinians come together to seek EU-model end to conflict. In: The Times of Israel . March 28, 2016, accessed September 4, 2017 .
  54. Examples: Lars Langenau: Hamburg's public vow: Tired masses at the military restricted area , Der Spiegel, June 16, 2003; Bundeswehr pledge: pacifist ecstasy and Prussian rituals , Netzeitung July 21, 2008 ( Memento from July 22, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  55. quoted from Robert Cohen: When the old Left was Young , p. 80
  56. 25 years ago: Heiner Geißler gives a “scandalous speech” in the Bundestag: “Pacifism made Auschwitz possible” , WDR, June 15, 2008
  57. "The worst agitator in this country" . In: Der Spiegel . No. 21 , 1985, pp. 28-30 ( Online - May 20, 1985 ).
  58. Richard Faber, Barbara Neumann: Literature of the border, theory of the border , p. 135
  59. Wolf Biermann: Brute peace love . In: Der Spiegel . No. 9 , 2003, p. 144-147 ( Online - Feb. 24, 2003 ).
  60. ^ Michael Ploetz, Hans-Peter Müller: Remote-controlled peace movement? , P. 113
  61. ^ Alan Schwerin: Bertrand Russell on Nuclear War, Peace, and Language. P. 16 ff.
  62. ^ Gernot Heiss and Heinrich Lutz: Peace Movements Conditions and Effects , Volume 2, 1984, p. 153
  63. for example Udo Baron: On the demonstrable influence of the SED and MfS today - The seduced peace movement (PDF; 1.1 MB)
  64. ^ Michael Ploetz, Hans-Peter Müller: Ferngelenkte Friedensbewegung ?. GDR and USSR in the fight against the NATO double decision (= dictatorship and resistance . Vol. 6). Lit., Münster 2004, p. 111
  65. Klaus Schröder and Peter Erler: History and Transformation of the SED State, pp. 274 and 276.
  66. Udo Baron: Cold War and Hot Peace - The Influence of the SED and its West German Allies on the Green Party , Lit-Verlag, 1st edition 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6108-2 , p. 170
  67. Anne-Katrin Gebauer: The directional dispute in the SPD - Seeheimer Kreis and new left in the inner-party power struggle , 2005, p. 203
  68. Volker Böge and Peter Wilke: Security Policy Alternatives , Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1984, p. 263
  69. quoted from John Shreve: Only those who change remain true to themselves - Wolf Biermann im Westen , 1989, p. 133
  70. Holger Nehring, Benjamin Ziemann : Do all roads lead to Moscow? The NATO double decision and the peace movement - a criticism . In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte . Issue 1, 2011, pp. 81–100 ( PDF [accessed August 17, 2019]). ; see. also Franziska Augstein : No fifth column. The German peace movement of the 1970s and 1980s. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . 8/9 January 2011, p. 15
  71. LG Memmingen, judgment of November 20, 1984, Az. Ns 9 Js 25 561/83 and Az. 9 Js 25561/83, further proceedings then at the BVerfG, judgment of July 14, 1987, Az. 1 BvR 242/86, BVerfGE 76, 211 .
  72. Decision of May 5, 1988, Az. 1 StR 5/88, BGHSt 35, 270 full text
  73. ↑ on this Werner Offenloch: Remembrance of the law - The dispute about retrofitting on the streets and in front of the courts . Mohr Siebeck, 2005, p. 32 f.
  74. BVerfG, decision of January 10, 1995, Az. 1 BvR 718/89; 1 BvR 719/89; 1 BvR 722/89; 1 BvR 723/89.
  75. ^ Order of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court of January 10, 1995
  76. Topic “legal aftermath” (for the blockade week in front of the Golf nuclear weapons storage facility in 1982) on the website of the Institute for Peace Education in Tübingen
  77. ^ Günter Platzdasch: Nuclear weapons - nation - law. In: Günter Platzdasch. February 13, 2018, accessed May 8, 2018 .
  78. Hans Elbeshausen: Germany - History and Politics, 1997 , p. 129.
  79. Ilka Schröder: Against political naivety ( memento from May 26, 2006 in the Internet Archive ). Press release No. 07, Berlin / Brussels February 18, 2003.
  80. Michael Lerner: A historical mistake . In: the daily newspaper, March 2, 2003 (reprinted by HaGalil).
  81. ^ Website of the US Peace Council
  82. According to Articles of Association § 2, (2.1) Articles of Association