On 16 January 2015, Professor Siegwart-Horst Günther died at the age of 89 years in Husum, shortly before his 90th birthday on 24 February.
He dedicated his entire life in the spirit of his idol, Albert Schweitzer, to the service of a human society striving for peace and justice worldwide.
During the Second World War, as an officer on the Eastern Front, he had experienced the cruelties and crimes of the Nazi war firsthand. Not least these experiences made him join the resistance group led by Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. After the failure of the assasination attempt on Hitler he was arrested and taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. After the liberation of the German people from fascism, he studied and did his doctorate at the University of Jena. A tropical medicine training in London and Liverpool ensued. From 1963 to 1965 he worked in Lambarene (Gabon) together with his idol Albert Schweitzer. Occupation as a doctor in Egypt, Syria, Israel and Iraq ensued. From 1990 to 1995 he taught and worked at the University Hospital in Baghdad.
From 1991 until 2004 Professor Günther – together with Dr Freimut Seidel (former Ambassador of the GDR and Middle East expert) – organized and realized many SODI-relief supplies for Iraqi health institutions and refugee camps in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra.
On this occasion he examined Iraqi children who suffered from a hitherto unknown disease after the second Gulf War (1991–1995). His studies showed that these children had had skin contact while playing with uranium ammunition that the US forces had used in the Gulf War.
His suspicion that the Depleted Uranium weapons were highly radioactive, were confirmed by studies of three renowned German research institutes, including the Luise-Meitner-Institute.
Professor Günther was the first scientist worldwide who realized the link between the use of uranium munitions and cancer as well as immune deficiency diseases and who made the public aware of the devastating health consequences for civilians, soldiers in war zones, yes, their impact worldwide. He was also the first person who called for a ban on these weapons, which leading scientists of Switzerland had counted among the nuclear weapons of modern times several years ago, too.
Returning from a solidarity action with 160 peace activists from all over Germany during the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia we got to know Professor Dr Günther on the occasion of a peace conference in Erfurt, where he and others had drawn attention on the use of Depleted Uranium weapons by NATO in Yugoslavia, including Kosovo.
A few days later he contacted us with the request for help when he – apparently because of his “dangerous knowledge” – should be taken to a psychiatric clinic by police detachment.
By informing all peace organizations that are active in Germany and worldwide we could prevent that.
The exemplary political and humanitarian engagement of the peace activist Professor Günther was appreciated, especially abroad, by awarding him numerous honors and awards: the Special Award 2000 for Peace and Humanity of the International Association of Education for World Peace, founded by former UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, the peace Medal of the University of Nagasaki, Japan, the award for moral courage of Solbach-Freise Foundation in 2006, the Nuclear-Free Future Award, category Enlightenment, in 2007 the prize for science and art of the Austrian Albert Schweitzer society and others.
Throughout his life Professor Günther has been an admonisher against war, who during the fascist period belonged to few ones, who dared to fight, if necessary with their lives, against a brown dictator like Hitler and whose objective has always been the “reverence for life”, following the example of his teacher Albert Schweitzer.
Let us continue this work so that our globe will be a peaceful place. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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