Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

The European Peace Movement: Conversation with Petra K. Kelly, Member of the Green Party and Member of the Bundestag, and General Gert Bastian, Retired General and Member of the Bundestag: 10/23/84 by Harry Kreisler

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Turning to the Peace Movement

Welcome to Berkeley. Ms. Kelly, I thought I would ask you the first question. What considerations led you to get involved in the peace movement and then to become a leader of that movement in Germany?

Well, first of all, I've become very politicized through my American-based university education, and I brought some of the nonviolent content back to Europe with me in 1970. Since 1970, I was deeply involved in the ecological movement, the anti-nuclear movement, which was, to me, an absolute twin of the peace movement. I entered the SPD and I was staying there as a disillusioned member until 1979, and I realized that you could not change anything within the SPD, you had to become part of the new Green movement -- a peace movement which is part of the Green movement. And so my commitment was to the peace movement for a long time there. But I think it really became a rallying point for all of us in Germany against the deployment decision [of Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe]. And it was important for me to link up with people like Gert Bastian, because we then created this Krepfel appeal, which was a major step in trying to get people to sign against the deployment in our own country -- five million signatures. And the beginning of the Green Party was, in fact, out of the birth of the peace movement. It was the answer to the SPD, to the Social Democrats, who had no answer anymore to its militaristic policies.

General Bastian, you were an officer in the German army. What set of factors led you to make this dramatic move from the army into the peace movement?

In my time as an active soldier, [I was] always speaking for a necessary defense, but for a defense which is organized on the lowest possible level. It should be organized in a way which does not have a provocative effect on the other side and is not pushing forward the arms race. Such a defense gives not more security but is destroying the existing security, and when the discussion was started regarding Pershing and Cruise missiles as an answer to SS-20 on the other side, I came to the conclusion very fast that this is a step in the wrong direction. It brings us not more security in Europe but creates a new danger for a limited nuclear war, which is possible with such new nuclear weapons, and the answer was to expect the Soviet side to respond with the deployment of SS-22s and SS-23s in East Germany and Czechoslovakia. I was not willing to accept this step. I had the wish to protect the soldiers, first, from being misused in such a terrible way. Therefore, I made a lot of protests to my minister of defense, and made the request to leave the army.

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