For the First Time in Germany: A Call for Peace by Prominent Personalities in Politics and Business, Church and Cultural Life

By Karl Müller, Current Concerns, No. 30/2014

In Germany something like that has never happened before: A former Christian Democratic (CDU) Federal President, a former Social Democratic (SPD) Chancellor, former Federal Ministers of CDU and SPD, two former prime ministers of CDU and SPD, the former leaders of the megacities Berlin and Hamburg, also members of the CDU and SPD, former members of the “Bundestag” from the CDU, SPD, FDP and Alliance 90/The Greens, business leaders, journalists, artists, theologians and dignitaries of the two major Christian churches have agreed on a call for peace.

On 5 December Zeit Online published the text first. 64 well-known personalities expressed their concern, which is shared by the majority of Germans: that a great war could be possible again in Europe because politicians and media professionals go for confrontation and not for détente and understanding.

“North America, the European Union and Russia inevitably drift toward it [war] if they do not bring to a halt the disastrous spiral of threat and counter-threat.” This introduction to the text of the 64 personalities is not far-fetched. Anyone who has been observing the relationship between the US government, the governments in the EU Member States, and the Russian government over the past few months, knows this. One day before the publication of the call, the US House of Representatives released a resolution, with 411 against only 10 No votes, (Resolution 758;, blaming Russian politics alone for the current situation and demanding war preparatory measures which is interpreted as a precursor to a declaration of war by many commentators (cf. Article by Ron Paul on page 3/4). The German Chancellor has also intensified her verbal attacks against the Russian government in recent weeks, most recently at her speech in Sydney on 17 November. The sanctions against Russia have poured fuel on the fire. The daily media invective against the Russian policy and the Russian president are undignified.

One does not have to approve every sentence the 64 personalities have agreed on. However, there are many clauses in this call for peace that are of vital importance, in particular the following: The appeal talks about “Germany’s special responsibility for the preservation of peace”; about pledges unfulfilled to the present day, made after the end of the Cold War, to establish “a solid European peace and security structure from Vancouver to Vladivostok”, to fill the 1990 “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” with life, to build a “Common European Home”.

The signatories call for a “new détente” on “the basis of equal security for all and equal and mutually respected partners.” They write: “We must not push Russia out of Europe. […] Since the Congress of Vienna in 1814 Russia has been one of the recognised shaping powers of Europe.” They warn those responsible. “Those who only build up enemy stereotypes and accusations only exacerbate the tensions at a time when all the signals should be set to a détente.” And they directly address the media: “We appeal to the media to meet their obligation for unprejudiced reporting more convincingly than before. Editorialists and commentators demonise whole nations, without sufficient credits to their history.”

Currently, the authorities in the US and across national boundaries analyse a report by the US Senate on torture practices of the US intelligence (cf. Article by Willy Wimmer on page 10). Would that not be reason enough to stop now and rethink the past 25 years as a whole; get away from the finger pointing to Russia and many other countries that have been the target of verbal, political, economic and military attacks in this quarter of a century? Is it not about time for European leaders to think about the role they have played themselves over the past 25 years, or what role has been intended for them?

There are enough materials to be read in order to reconsider. A few weeks ago, for example, an anthology was issued [1] that informs and educates factually, but also adopts a committed position. The information in this book, however, does not correspond with what our political leaders and journalists have said in the mainstream media in the past year. But would it not be a primary obligation of responsible people in politics, economics and society, to study also those books thoroughly that do not take their own view? And then to consider whether those who do not share their opinion have valuable information and good arguments?

In the appeal of the 64 personalities it is stated: “The people of Europe have to fear again.” In fact, current policy is not on a good way. What is more, the citizens lose the sense that they can accomplish anything against this policy. They see themselves caught in a train on the operating and steering of which they have no control and which heads for disaster at increasing speed.

It really is high time for this call. It asks to join in, and encourages to speak up publicly, too. So that the direction may change, before it is too late!

[1] Ronald Thoden, Sabine Schiffer (ed.): Ukraine im Visier. Russlands Nachbar als Zielscheibe geostrategischer Interessen, 2014. ISBN 978-3-9816963-0-1