Germany’s old-fashioned peace movement is increasingly divided on how to respond to the war in Ukraine. Their traditional Easter marches are growing less and less relevant to younger generations.
The images from the huge rally that gathered in solidarity with Ukraine in central Berlin on February 27, 2022 were impressive. The police estimated that more than 100,000 people attended the demo, while organizers said it was closer to half a million.
But the longer the war in Ukraine has gone on, the more public opinion in Germany has grown divided over the form and purpose of the protests against the war. In many quarters, solidarity with Ukraine has given way to fear that the war could spread, an attitude that has drawn condemnation from many.
Symptomatic of this are the reactions to a series of open letters in which prominent people from culture, science and religious groups called for a stop to arms deliveries and the start of peace negotiations with Russia (though Russia has shown little inclination to engage in such talks). Most recently, a new “call for peace” was released this week by Peter Brandt, historian and son of former Chancellor Willy Brandt and signed by several prominent trade unionists and Social Democrats, including the party’s former leader Norbert-Walter Borjans.