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The Bielefeld Appeal (December 1980)

To distance themselves from charges that the peace movement had been infiltrated by Communists, various Social Democratic groups signed the Bielefeld Appeal, which reiterated the goals of the Krefeld Appeal.

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In the early 1970s we had great expectations for our party’s policies of peace and détente. They produced a series of positive results (the relief of hardship , treaty policies, job security through trade with the East) that no one can deny and that brought our party a great bonus in public trust. This was also reflected in election results, and many active young comrades were won for us. Both – the trust and the visible progress – are now at risk.

A year ago, on December 12, 1979, the NATO missile resolution was passed in Brussels. By now, it has become increasingly clear that this decision was a fateful error. The expected ratification of the SALT II agreement by the American Congress was the prerequisite for the approval of this resolution at the SPD federal party congress in West Berlin and for the federal government. In his public statements, Helmut Schmidt assured that his government wanted to use the time between the approval of the resolution and the deployment of the new generation of intermediate-range American missiles in 1983 for talks on limiting the nuclear strategic potential in Europe in order to achieve a military balance at a lower level. He also emphasized the “dual nature” of the resolution and referred to the priority it placed on the offer of negotiations. As yet, however, there have been no serious talks. Instead, all preparations are being made to introduce the new weapons systems and create a fait accompli.

This development contradicts the definitive will of the SPD federal party congress. Party members must feel disappointed, and the SPD is at risk of losing its credibility among the people. If negotiations on the strategic weapons slated for deployment in Europe do not start immediately, then a new round of the arms race will commence with Europe at its center. “Security for Germany” would be at greater risk than ever before. We would be putting our future at the mercy of an American decision that says that it is possible to wage a limited nuclear war in Europe.

A president whose declared goal is to continue building up arms and who views the SALT II agreement as invalid is now taking office in the United States.

The unchecked continuation of the arms race brings burdens of a previously unfathomable magnitude to the Federal Republic as well, and especially to jobholders. This is apparent from the difficulties arising in drafting the new government program. Critical social areas have suffered drastic cutbacks. The present economic crisis and social hardship – as is becoming increasingly clear – have essentially been caused by the continuing arms race. The demands, such as those of the United States, for extensive, real increases in the defense budget and NATO’s three percent agreement are not acceptable. The critical forces in the coalition must finally make the necessary cuts in the weapons sector instead of promoting cuts in social services.

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