Iraq: No to war – Anti-war campaigning in Germany

The latest opinion poll by the weekly magazine ‘Stern’ says that 71 percent of Germans are opposed to the war. Local demonstrations of up to 10,000 are taking place on an almost daily basis. Last weekend saw more than 30,000 marching on two demonstrations against the war in Munich while an annual Nato conference was taking place. One demonstration – significantly the bigger one – was marching against the Nato meeting while a second demonstration which was called by the trade union leadership and the Social Democrats was opposed to the war on Iraq but not against Nato. Yesterday (February 13) saw a school students’ strike of more than 7,000 in the city of Bremen.

No to war in Iraq. Anti-war movement in Germany.

Anti-war campaigning in Germany

In the trade unions first demands for strike actions on the day the war starts (Day X) have been raised. The biggest political protest movement and the most decisive political radicalisation of workers and young people for many years are developing.

Schröder’s contradictory position

The German government opposes the US war plans in words – and supports them practically wherever they can. Schröder’s "No" to the war reflects the diverging interests of German and US imperialism and his desperate domestic situation. Confronted with a mass anti war mood and a growing anti war movement, plus having been elected into government on the basis of his opposition to the war – he is afraid of losing the rest of the little support which is left if he changes his position on the war.

But practically the German government is not doing anything to stop the war. US military bases are not shut and the US air force is still allowed to use the German air space. US military barracks are now protected by thousands of German soldiers. German troops are still in Kuwait and while Germany has supported France and Belgium in Nato, Patriot rockets were sent to Turkey – via the Netherlands. The German anti war movement therefore has to take a clear stand against the imperialist politics of the Schröder government.

SAV (the German section of the CWI) has prioritised the anti war activities. In many cities we together with International Resistance have launched youth committees against the war. These have now formed a national campaign "Youth Against the War" (YAW). Local meetings have been extremely successful from 30 to 160 in attendance.

For example, in Stuttgart, there were 100 at a youth conference against the war, in Aachen 50 attended the first meeting of Youth Against the War, in Kassel 170 attended a public meeting of "School students against the war". Anti war committees have also been set up in schools and universities.

On the Munich demonstration against the Nato conference YAW organised a contingent of more than 100 (although there is no YAW group in Munich). On the Saturday demonstration YAW will organise a youth contingent.

On 25 February Youth Against War will organise a national day of action with many different local activities. There will be mass meetings in schools, protests during school breaks, local demonstrations after school or during school time. The Stuttgart YAW will organise a school students’ strike. In Kassel there will be a protest in front of an arms factory.

School student strikes’ on Day X

For Day X youth strikes are planned in most cities by YAW. The call for youth strikes will be used also to approach workers and their trade unions to come out on strike against the war. YAW is preparing activities in front of factories where a call on workers and the trade unions to join in the youth demonstrations and strikes on day X will be distributed. Trade unions, shop stewards committees and youth committees in factories will be approached.

SAV members in the "Network for a fighting and democratic Verdi" (a broad left opposition grouping in the public sector, transport and finance trade union) have helped to launch an appeal for "trade unionists against the war".

On street stalls and other activities we have a tremendous response. Just two examples: on a Saturday stall SAV members in Hamburg sold 35 papers and collected 150-euro donations. The SAV in Berlin raised 50 euro in one hour going through pubs asking for donations.

We have produced a special 16-pages pamphlet against the war and have already produced our third poster against the war saying, "Stop the war for oil profits! Jobs and education not arms and war!"

All SAV branches are organising public meetings over the next week Topics under discussion will include, "Why does capitalism means war?" "The defeat of the US in Vietnam", "Which way out for Israel and Palestine?" "Globalisation and war" and "What is socialism?"

Our ‘Socialism Days’ annual rally at Easter in Berlin will be one climax of our campaign. We have a target of 600 visitors during the weekend. International speakers will include comrades from South Africa, Israel and Britain.

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February 2003