World Conference Against A- & H-Bombs' International Meeting
Rede von Dr. Guido Grünewald, internationaler Sprecher der DFG-VK, bei der
2005 World Conference Against A- & H-Bombs' International Meeting
I bring you cordial greetings from the German Peace Society-United War Resisters. I'm very glad that I can be with you again today after a break of some years. Looking back some decades it becomes quite clear that the World Conference has been a eminent place where nuclear weapons have been fought firnly and consistently. I thank our Japanes friends for their obstinacy by which they stuck to the principle of general and complete nuclear disarmament and insisted in our debates that nucler abolition had to be a central goal for peace movements.
Preparing my speech I wondered if I should report about the developments in Germany and the European Union: that there are still about 150 nucelar bombs deployed in Germany; that NATO continues to couint on nuclear forces based in Europe; that the EU is beefing up it's military capabilities enormously by building up an interventionary force of 60.000 soldiers, enhancing it's arms industry and forming so-called battle groups which shall be ready to fight worldwide on 15 days notice or that the European Parliament voted for a nuclear weapon free world but was not ready tio approve the goal of a nuclear weapon free zone in Europe... I choose, however, to share with you some thoughts on the question of inspiration and motivation.
For many years I was very active in the peace movement and familiar with all the relevant discussions. Since I started my own business 7 years ago, however, time for peace work has become very limited. I'm no longer able to read all the information I receive by email or paper and must focus my peace activities carefully. Therefore I can see the issues of peace and nuclear abolition much closer from the perspective of the ordinary people I meet in my business and with whom I sometimes discuss such questions. Like a big and rather stable majority of the German people the same is true for the population of most other countries most of the people I talk to favour nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon free world as well as the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from German territory. The issue is not, however, an urgent one for them, but rather a distant wish the realization of which seems to be outside their realm.
How can we activate these people and reach the growing number of those who are ignorant about the danger of nuclear weapons? I suppose nobody present here knows the answer, and I even doubt that there is the answer. But as Lawrence Wittner, the historian of the nuclear disarmament movement, has shown, the movement succeded several times to mobilize enough popular pressure for curbing the nuclear arms race and preventing the use of nuclear weapons. Wittner's conclusion is convincingly: What the movement has done before, it can do again.
Unfortunately there are no simple historical lessons to learn. I suppose we have to continue to follow a variety of approaches towards a nuclear weapon free world linking them and evaluating them periodically in our discussions. But certainly there is no reason for resignation even though the pro-nuclear forces seem to be firmly etablished. Howard Zinn, the famous US-writer of people's history, has rightly pointed out that dramatic historical changes don't occur in a single cataclysmic moment ' then the change only becomes visible - but as result of an endless sequence of surprising developments which taken alone don't seem to have major consequences. Those in power are vulnerable by human qualities such as moral will, determination, readiness to make sacrifices, humour, ingenuity, courage or patience which over time slowly undermine the fortresses of the powerful.
And a very important factor for motivation and inspiration is the example humans are giving by their personality, their way of living and thinking or their relentless activity. I had the privilege to stay several times with hibakusha here in Japan, to make lengthy interviews with quite a number and to organize speaking tours in Germany for some. I have been deeply impressed by both the courage and the joyfullness I met. One reason I came back at this special anniversary is to pay honour to all hibakusha and especially to those of you I met in our common struggle. Thank you for bearing the burden of giving testimony and for teaching me that humans are capable to cope with terrible blows withouit nourishing hate towards those who are responsible. Your firm determination to call relentlessly for justice and a world without nuclear weapons has been a great inspiration for me and many others present here or engaged in activities in their respective countries.
Thank you for your attention.