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Young Christians Propose a "Social Peace Service" as an Alternative to Compulsory Military Duty (December 7, 1982)

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During the summer of 1981, supporters of the initiative made numerous attempts to introduce their demands into discussions with state representatives. There were opportunities to do so at the voter gatherings in June of that year, since those gatherings were always held in the lead-up to the Volkskammer elections. Such meetings have no direct influence on decisions, and they generally inspire just as little interest as the rest of this hollow political ritual, but sometimes critical questions did manage to shake them up. One person involved reported on such a meeting:

“Of the twenty-five young people, only three showed up aside from me. Even the Volkskammer candidate who was supposed to introduce herself failed to come, so we could only speak with one representative from the municipal district, the party secretary of the residential district, and the residential district chairman, who was a career officer. After we had spent an hour debating the poor quality of the streets and the sidewalk lighting, and the terrible rolls and miserable sausage in the market, I started discussing my problems:

1. Legal regulations for young people under eighteen who want to become construction soldiers [Bausoldaten] but who still have to participate in pre-military training in school and vocational instruction.
2. The labor shortage in health and social service professions, including care for the elderly, and the proposal to introduce a social peace service, that is, a civilian alternative to military service.
3. How can I nominate candidates for election who represent my own interests?”

[ . . . ]

Source: “Eine Welt ohne Militär – das wäre eine Alternative” [“A World without the Military – that Would Be an Alternative”], Frankfurter Rundschau, December 7, 1982, p. 14.

Translation: Allison Brown

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