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An Expelled East German Dissident Explains the Peace Movement (July 21, 1983)

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Do people talk about it, say, at work?

Yes, of course, whenever it becomes public, whenever the security forces strike down hard. Here’s one very clear example. In November a moment of silence was held. Afterwards, passersby spoke with the participants; there were small group discussions. And then it was over. Then another moment of silence was supposed to be held on December 24, but a large number of security forces and combat groups, etc, were on hand. Although the moment of silence didn’t take place, because it was prevented, it immediately became the talk of the town in Jena. And then there was our rally on March 18. We came in with posters and were beaten up. News of it spread everywhere immediately.

So on Pentecost Day we were tolerated in some places; people thus engaged with us. In a very cautious way, of course, but at least they made an attempt. Then our posters were torn down again and a few discussions started, there was a large group of very young FDJ youths standing around and some of them said: “Yeah, we’re on your side.” And in Schwerin some FDJ youths picked up posters of ours that had been torn down. At these moments, you can feel the movement, you can feel what’s going on inside people and that it’s mostly a matter of getting the word out. For us it was the same thing. We didn’t stop with the demand for disarmament; rather, we also saw the contradictions in everyday life. This becomes the main issue the moment you delve deeper, the moment you don’t just say, yes, there are missiles that they’re aiming at us, but when you precisely analyze everything that threatens us. You see that the things happening in our army don’t advance education toward peace. The same is true for what’s being taught in school in military training, and this also extends to war toys; that’s where you have to start. But of course it’s the missiles that are most visible. But then you come far enough to realize that this militarization characterizes certain life patterns: subordination, not having a say, and then you develop yourself further. You’re no longer concerned just with disarmament, but also with democratic freedoms, with human rights.

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