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German History in Documents and Images
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Protest against the Iraq War (January 26, 1991)
Iraq’s attack on Kuwait presented a dilemma for German foreign policy: Should the expanded Federal Republic cling to its traditional role as a “civil power” that abstained from military operations, or should it join the U.N.-sanctioned American campaign against Saddam Hussein? On January 26, 1991, more than 200,000 people gathered in Bonn’s Hofgarten to demonstrate for peace and against the Gulf War. Peace groups, the SPD, the Greens, and the Confederation of German Trade Unions [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund] called for participation in the demonstration, while the Federal Government distanced itself from the protests. Public opinion was divided: According to a survey, 49 percent of Germans believed that a war against Iraq was justified, while 48 percent opposed military engagement. A sign printed by the Greens [Die Grünen] appears in foreground of the photograph; it reads: “Say No! No blood for oil.” Behind it is a sign by the Association of Christian Democratic Students [Ring Christlich-Demokratischer Studenten], a group allied with the CDU; this sign reads: “Yes to peace – yes to the United Nations.” Photo: Arne Schambeck.