Happy Anti-War Day! The weapons must be silent!


Happy Anti-War Day! The weapons must be silent!
by Otto Konig and Richard Detje

The DGB (the German alliance of unions) and its member unions, an important voice in the German peace movement, commemorate the barbaric consequences of war and fascism on September 1. Trade unionists fight for peace, democracy and freedom.
The weapons must be silent!

by Otto König/Richard Detje

Anti-War Day 2022

[This article posted on 8/30/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Die Waffen müssen schweigen!]

The DGB (the German alliance of unions) and its member unions, an important voice in the German peace movement, commemorate the barbaric consequences of war and fascism on September 1. Trade unionists fight for peace, democracy and freedom.

In view of the warlike conflicts around the world, it is only logical that the motto of this year’s DGB appeal for Anti-War Day should be: “For peace! Against a new arms race! The weapons must finally be silent!”

The Anti-War Day 2022 is marked by the war in Ukraine, but also by other world political trouble spots in the Near and Middle East as well as in Africa, which mean “death, destruction and flight”. Instead of disarmament, the signs are currently pointing to conflict and deterrence. The “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stands at 100 seconds to 12 o’clock and illustrates the nuclear madness. Nuclear powers are currently modernizing their nuclear arsenals.

While there were serious discussions about the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons before the start of the Ukraine war, the traffic light coalition in Berlin decided to acquire new nuclear-capable F-35 fighter jets only a few days after the Russian attack on Ukraine. It thus joined the new nuclear modernization push to secure the deployment of new B61-12 NATO nuclear weapons from U.S. arsenals in Rhineland-Palatinate.

A new nuclear arms race is looming in Europe. “This madness must be stopped!” reads the DGB’s appeal. The federal government is called upon to “stick to the goal of a nuclear-free Germany formulated in the coalition agreement, to withdraw from nuclear sharing and to end the storage of nuclear weapons in Büchel, Rhineland-Palatinate.” Instead of sticking to nuclear sharing, Germany should join the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was democratically adopted by the vast majority of the international community, he said.

The global nuclear threat can only be effectively countered with a complete ban on nuclear weapons. For the danger of nuclear escalation, whether intentional or accidental, exists as long as states possess nuclear weapons.

For months, we have been witnessing an irrational arming reflex on the part of all states directly and indirectly affected by the Ukraine war. While thoughtfulness is being disposed of, enthusiasm for powder vapor and steel thunderstorms is on the rise. Suddenly howitzers, tanks, rocket launchers are things that create peace. Principles such as no arms deliveries to crisis and conflict areas are thrown overboard. The red-yellow-green government, with the support of the CDU/CSU opposition, has rushed through the Bundestag an arms buildup with 100 billion euros in special funds for the Bundeswehr by amending the Basic Law. Profits are exploding in the arms companies.

The transatlantic elites have succeeded in removing the taboo from militarism: Caught up in the irrationalism of war, bellicose politicians and editors spread the word that those who question war as a means of politics are “dangerous fantasists.” Differentiated thinking is no longer in demand and is in danger of being denounced as partisanship for the wrong side. Appeals for peace by prominent personalities, presumably also the DGB appeal for Anti-War Day, are defamed as “Moscow’s fifth column”.

This is a clumsy method that was already used against the peace movement in the times of the Cold War and is being brought out of the mothballs again today: Already the call of the DGB in 1957 had to be directed against the anti-communist war sentiments “Better dead than red!”. 40 years ago, the then CDU Secretary General Heiner Geißler accused the opponents of the NATO rearmament decision of adopting “seamlessly arguments of the Soviet Union” and mutating “in the intellectual debate in the Federal Republic to a fifth column of the other side”.

Today, the slogan is: peace can only be achieved with weapons. Anyone who does not support this is denounced as a “murderer in spirit. Political scientist Herfried Münkler, for example, attacks opponents of the supply of battle tanks as morally degenerate “submission pacifists. Or “lumpenpacifists” who pursue “pacifism at the expense of others,” as former Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse (SPD) rants in SPIEGEL.

The DGB rightly criticizes the “narrowing of the debate … to the use of military means of peacekeeping” and warns against further militarization of the substantive debate. Those who demand an immediate end to the war in Ukraine are not making themselves into the “useful idiots” of the Russians, but are performing a protective function as trade unionists in the interests of dependent employees.

This includes the statement in the DGB appeal: “We resolutely reject the German government’s commitment to permanently increase the German arms budget to the NATO two-percent target or beyond,” because the increase in arms spending is “at the expense of the efficiency of our social state” and exacerbates “social inequality in our country. For the unions and wage earners, the consequences of the war are already being felt massively: on the one hand, the rise in inflation, driven by energy prices, and on the other, the increasing danger of recession.

Frank Deppe is to be agreed with when he states: “The discourse on peace and security policy must not be burdened with prohibitions on thinking that are intended to ward off analyses of the war’s prehistory as well as its significance in the global struggle for a new world order beyond the ‘American Empire’ as Russia-friendly propaganda.”[1] It is an imperative of humanity to end the war in Ukraine. The “victory on the battlefield” that has been repeatedly called for is becoming increasingly unlikely as it drags on. Military experts predict that the military conflict is heading toward a war of attrition lasting months or even years.

Complaining about increasing “war fatigue” (Annalena Baerbock) in Western Europe does not help, but is counterproductive; only the search for solutions beyond war, such as first a cease-fire, then a peace order with prospects for the post-war international order, is a reasonable perspective. It is welcome when the DGB calls for “a European and international peace order based on human rights and the principles of freedom, self-determination and social justice.”

The only realistic way to end this war is through negotiations. “Solidarity with Ukraine is not a question of supplying as many and heavy weapons as possible, but a question of the degree of diplomatic initiatives to end this war” says Johannes Varwick, political scientist at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Negotiation does not mean capitulation. Diplomatic activities to end the war would first and foremost be in the interest of Ukrainians* directly affected by the war. But it would also avert severe social upheavals for dependent employees in Germany and worldwide.

It is therefore right when the DGB calls for “civilian instruments of diplomacy, development cooperation and a fair trade policy, humanitarian aid and conflict prevention” in its appeal for Anti-War Day. Endless diligence has been devoted by historians since time immemorial to depicting the course of battles and wars. The superficial causes of wars have also been traced. “But little energy, energy and effort have usually been devoted to thinking about how they could have been avoided,” former German President Gustav W. Heinemann admonished Germany’s then nascent peace and conflict studies community in 1970.

The Ukraine war in particular shows how important it is to stick to the goal of globally controlled disarmament. This is also why, on September 1, trade unionists and activists of the peace movement are opposing a new global arms race and are calling for a “worldwide ban on nuclear weapons”. The aforementioned call on the German government to “adhere to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free Germany as formulated in the coalition agreement” also means that Germany must join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


[1] Frank Deppe: Never again war! Never again fascism! On the occasion of Anti-War Day 2022, in: Sozialismus.de, issue 9/2022, p. 34.


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