Letters to the Editor

Building our hopes on young people

The question of what is being done for peace is so very important. It alarms me that, in public, there is no more talk of diplomacy, only of demands on our government to stand by Ukraine. The impression is being given that notwithstanding the Ukrainian government’s pushing for arms supplies our parliament is denying them this much-needed help and that it is imperative that we (the people) convince our parliament that arms deliveries must be made now. For me, these reports are becoming more and more difficult to bear. This is idiocy being spread here. Arms deliveries only set a spiral of violence in motion. Haven’t we seen this in all the wars since the Kosovo conflict?
  Right at the beginning of the war, there were statements that we would supply former NVA stocks to Ukraine via Latvia. Are they now selling scrap weapons in Ukraine? And given all this, we find no reports of diplomats who care about negotiating criteria. Only in Current Concerns did I read about Otto Schily’s proposal to persuade Ukraine to observe neutrality, which would mean disarmament.
  There are also no more reports on the peace movement. People should take to the streets and demonstrate for Ukraine now. But can peace not only be achieved with all those who are involved in the tensions? There is no peace against Russia, but only peace with Russia. All the problems that were there before the war, that caused the war, must be talked about instead of being wiped off the table, as is happening now.
  I hope that at Easter there will be Easter marches based on the traditional model all over Europe.
  I am a history and politics teacher, but also an art teacher at a vocational grammar school. One subject unit in the history/community studies curriculum of Saxony is dedicated to international conflicts. I have therefore already dealt with many conflicts with my students. My basic principle is to make it clear to my students that conflicts have causes. Analysing them is important in order to understand the conflict. Another principle is that one cannot speak of religious conflicts, religions are wonderfully useful for concealing the true causes. And yet another principle is important: don’t just rely on the media here, but consult several sources. I consistently and in different ways try to make it clear to my students what war means, what long-term consequences wars have – several generations are wounded by them.
  This school year I had already breathed a sigh of relief when the war in Afghanistan ended. The way in which this came about was bad, but it was an end; and now the next war is here. I am convinced that peace education belongs in schools, but this view clashes with the system of capitalism, which is based on competition. At the end of this unit, I told my students that I build my hopes on them, on the young people who have been prepared to change the world for some time. After all, we have to realise that we only have one earth. Wars only lead to the destruction of even more things that are worth living for. I also consider art to be essential in this. It strengthens togetherness across borders. It shows again and again in the most diverse ways what people can produce creatively, shape – not ruin, form instead of destroying.

Barbara Patzig, Dresden

Never again? A contemporary witness, born in 1927, notes: Some things seem similar to me

I was born in 1927 and will soon be 95 years old. At 16 I became a Luftwaffenhelfer (literally, “air force assistant”), at 17 I was Hitler’s last posse in Berlin. In the terrible Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF) camp in Nuremberg and Eisleben, I had time to think before my very dangerous escape. How had propaganda managed to keep us loyal to “the Führer” almost to the end on 30 April 1945?
  The topic of “the effects of propaganda” had been occupying me intensively since the end of the war. My resolution at the time was: In the future, you “superiors” will not succeed in doing something like that again. That has remained true, and I observe the salami tactics with which we have been led back to the old ways in violation of the Basic Law and soon also in violation of international law. I know the admonishers Erich Kästner, Wolfgang Borchert („... then say no"), Heinrich Böll and Karl Jaspers, who lived in Basel and to whom I wrote after reading his admonishing book “Wohin treibt die Bundesrepublik?”. The Basic Law is the rock on which our freedom rests. Politicians already used it loosely, and our people knew too little of its value.
  What happened in the “Third Reich” has been playing out again before my eyes in important respects since 1945: the Gleichschaltung (cooptation) of the press. Now we have arrived at the criminalisation of dissidents. People in Germany who represent Russia’s position in the ongoing war in Ukraine are to be prosecuted. Because they are in favour of a war of aggression. And wars of aggression are forbidden on penalty in Germany. Does our government determine who the aggressor is? Had it forgotten this in the years since 1999?
  I saw a Putin on television who could no longer put up with the enemy’s insolence. This received little attention in the controlled media. When Putin resorted to war, the horrors of war were shown all the more with the power of images, as in Pearl Harbour, on 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington. Always the same recipe. And we see that the citizen falls for it, again and again, even intelligent people. I have my own unpleasant experiences, lots of them. Today I experience media censorship. How can something like that be done – like after Hitler’s seizure of power?

Ernst Udo Kaufmann, Müllheim (DE)

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