When they failed to attain their goals, their organizational problems became evident: the division between an active core of a few longtime members and the passive majority of relative newcomers; the preponderance of men and male styles of work; a narrow focus on political action and analysis to the exclusion of personal support and discussion e. The decline created other problems as well. From to circulation had risen from a stable to as many as or for the special issue on social defense , and the magazine had hired a second full-time worker.
But in , as the network and the peace movement contracted, circulation fell to just below In West Berlin, for example, two former members who left the group in cited the predominance of students as a major factor in their decisions to leave. Members of the group, they claimed, tended to take a very cerebral, abstract approach to politics. This, one added, also partly reflected patriarchal culture.
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In Heidelberg, the creation of a "peace shop" Friedensladen in January, , helped nonviolent action groups to hold together more successfully than in most other cities. The peace shop worked to plan actions, encourage theoretical discussion through seminars and publications, help communication between existing nonviolent action groups, and do outreach to people outside of them. Unlike many of the peace shops which were being formed in other cities,, the Heidelberg shop had a "strongly non-hierarchical orientation" with active participation from the action groups themselves.
Even here, however, there was little success in finding common ground among the groups either in joint actions or in shared political perspectives. Decline did not mean immediate, total collapse. Through peace movement activity continued on a sharply reduced scale from the previous year but substantially higher than it had been before Once again, the Grassroots network played an important if seldom acknowledged role.
Although there were still many differences among the independents, they tended to agree that the peace movement should move toward a more comprehensive anti-militarist position and "from protest to resistance.
The Green Party occupied an ambiguous position in this context. On the one hand, they took the lead in publicizing important new issues, such as changes in NATO strategy see below. But on the other hand, the Party pulled back from its stance of actively participating in civil disobedience organizing. The Greens continued to support civil disobedience in principle.
Although the refusal campaign had been endorsed by an action conference of the peace movement as a whole, most of the large traditional peace organizations virtually ignored it. Without this support the campaign made little headway and was disbanded in Deployment of cruise and Pershing II, many Greens and independent activists argued, must be seen not only in the context of a new "first strike" nuclear stance but also in conjunction with a modernization and realignment of conventional military forces.
No longer limited to containing a possible Soviet invasion, NATO forces were now instructed to "attack in the deep" in the event of war. FOFA relied on sophisticated new conventional weaponry, such as conventionally-armed cruise missiles, to carry the battlefield into Warsaw Pact territory. Approximately 1,, people, based in five peace camps, took part in nonviolent civil disobedience actions for up to two weeks to interfere with the maneuvers.
Grassroots groups, which initiated the idea for the obstruction actions, took the leading role in organizing the civil disobedience in the Fulda area. The International Nonviolent March coorganized one of the five camps, at Grebenhain. At Fulda and Hildesheim, the issue was not simply the future threat of war, but the concrete practice of war.
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The actions were designed to highlight the militars destruction of woods and farmlands, the numerous deaths and injuries resulting each year from the maneuvers, the climate of fear and helplessness engendercd among local residents, and the testing of the aggressive new war-fighting doctrines. The actions in the Fulda Gap and Hildesheim areas took a radically different form from the mass blockades of Like the Grossengstingen action, the camps were organized in affinity groups, which relied on consensus decision-making.
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But these actions were more decentralized, more spontaneous, and involved many different forms of civil disobedience. Activists, often working in small groups, stopped military patrols, leafletted soldiers, climbed onto tanks, spray-painted slogans on signs and vehicles, invaded military installations, and damaged army equipment. In some cases, activists were arrested; in others they disappeared before the police could arrive.
Whereas in Grossengstingen-type blockades participants had submitted to arrest in an "orderly, disciplined" fashion, the approach here was very different. Two participants in an action near Grebenhain described it as follows: The police were waiting for us [at the poison-gas depot], huddled behind the main gate.
After a brief rally and renewed calls to let us into the base, we spread out along the fence. The police could not control the entire area und so, little by little, small groups used favorable opportunities to climb over the fence, at which point they were arrested. The policemen were confused, incredulous and reacted in part with tear gas and clubs.
The demonstrators showed their soldarity with the arrested infiltrators by blocking police vehicles and attempting to stop the removal of prisoners with masses of people. In the arch-conservative Fulda region, the fact that , people took part in the legal "human net" demonstration pointed to widespread opposition to the military maneuvers. Participants in the obstruction actions encountered widely varied reactions from local residents. Some inhabitants were particularly upset about the maneuvers and supported the demonstrators — in some cases helping them to locate military units.
Other local residents treated them with hostility; one volunteer fire company turned its high pressure hoses on them. The actions were hampered by severe organizational problems, particularly in relations with the press. Traditional peace groups offered little support with publicity or mobilization work, although they had promised to do so. Even the Greens provided little organizational help.
They argued that the actions were directed "above all against the young soldiers They also warned that maneuver obstruction actions were unpredictable and would easily lead to violence. This letter helped to deter many moderate peace groups from taking part in the actions. This second charge closely paralleled the public warning against blockade actions which leaders of the KOFAZ and SPD-oriented groups had issued in the summer of In this instance, as then, civil disobedience organizers responded that the charge was not only irresponsible and unfounded, but that it also played into the hands of the Christian Democrats and the conservative press, who hoped to "criminalize" independent peace activists and thereby isolate them from the rest of the peace movement.
The first charge, that peace actions should not be directed "against soldiers," touched an even deeper disagreement. The soldiers, "most of whom perform their duty in good faith," as you write, should through our actions have exactly this faith taken from them. According to our convictions there is no good faith in securing peace through military force Soldiers are not simply puppets who receive orders, who fight and die wherever they are ordered to, but also human beings, who can feel and think and take responsibility for their actions From conversations with soldiers we know that maneuvers are a great burden for them.
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The lives claimed by the maneuvers every year demonstrate this in terrible fashion. Why do you twist this fact to make it seem that the soldiers are primarily endangered by our actions? Despite such conflicts, the maneuver obstruction actions helped to dramatize the issue of NATO war-fighting strategies for substantial sections of the peace movement. A number of local peace initiatives began to address it in their educational work.
This applies regardless of criticisms of the particular forms of action used. But as at Grossengstingen, some participants had serious reservations about and criticisms of the maneuver obstruction actions. Some participants in the Fulda Gap actions commented that the attacks on military property, while intended to "raise the price" of army maneuvers, could in fact do little to physically impair the military apparatus.
These actions, they claimed, were reflexive efforts to "do something" against militarization, and little thought was given to their effectiveness. Their main impact was to divert media and public attention away from the central political issues of military maneuvers and NATO strategy. In addition, decisions by many activists to avoid arrest, while understandable, meant the loss of possibilities for other confrontations with the state, such as courtroom trials which could produce useful publicity.
Although they helped for a time to revive activity and discussion in the peace movement, the Fulda Gap and Hildesheim actions did not reverse the decline experienced since November But these were relatively isolated events. By the middle of , activists were speaking of the peace movement as a thing of the past. Various efforts at reorganization and reflection took place in in and around the Grassroots network.
The creation of "peace shops" in a number of cities such as Heidelberg helped to provide institutional support and coordination for peace groups on a local level. Many of the peace shops leaned toward a Grassroots perspective. Once again the emphasis in training was shifting away from preparation for specific civil disobedience actions, toward discussion of long-term strategies and visions.
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There was a push for more active local distribution to increase circulation, and the Hamburg editorial collective tightened its finances. This reorganization was coupled with an effort to broaden the thematic scope of the magazine. The West Berlin editorial group, for example, concentrated on Eastern Europe, while the Heidelberg group focused partly on feminist issues.
Also in , women from several cities began to meet to talk about feminist concerns within the Grassroots network. They were newer to the network than those who had participated in the "Women and the Military" campaign a few years before. They initiated discussions that were to lead to a position paper on feminism and nonviolence, to be presented at the next national meeting of the Grassroots network. Meanwhile, other Grassroots activists were also working to revitalize theoretical discussions within the network.