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Protest March in Bonn (October 12, 1981)

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Many stores, especially jewelry, clothing, and fur stores, are not only closed, but some storefront windows have also been boarded shut to protect against possible stone-throwing. Demonstrators spray-paint their comments on these wooden planks. One reads: “Dear business owner, even a second wooden wall won’t help when a neutron bomb is dropped.” A driver who couldn’t find a secure parking spot in front of his home put a sign on his windshield for safety’s sake: “Trade unionist for peace.” Some of the people marching here want to wait a while before they do what they have planned. At the Douglas perfumery on Kaiserplatz, you can read slogans like: “You have the might; we have the night” and “Break a leg! Who’s afraid of the first stone?”

Music is everywhere: Irish folk music with bagpipes, workers’ songs, chansons. Suddenly it’s all drowned out. “Peoples of the world, hear the signals.” The song of the American civil rights movement “We shall overcome.” Young DKP people try to sing along, but they apparently don’t know the words.

The speeches at the main event are virtually impossible for many to hear. For those who never make it to the Hofgarten, there’s no such thing as shared euphoria. But even those who didn’t see or hear anything and finally went to a pub to escape the rain aren’t disappointed. They halfway expected that to happen. “It isn’t so important. The main thing is that so many people have come, that’s really great.”

Celebrities on folding chairs. Erhard Eppler, Heinrich Böll, retired general [Gerd] Bastian, military theorist [Alfred] Mechtersheimer, who has been threatened with expulsion from the CSU, Professor Gollwitzer, actor and singer Harry Belafonte, Coretta King, widow of the murdered Martin Luther King. In her speech, Petra Kelly, the federal chair of the Greens, demands that Chancellor [Helmut] Schmidt step down, and she declares Eppler, so to speak, the new chancellor. Eppler folds his hands under his chin and rolls his eyes upward. The only speaker up there who slips into screeching demagogy is Uta Ranke-Heinemann, the daughter of the former federal president. An embarrassing appearance: “Our politicians don’t notice that they’re crazy. We don’t want people dying for foreign megalomania.”

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