The German peace movement won an major victory. After 17 years of struggle to close down a former Russian Air Force bombing and shooting range, the German minister of defense announced that the government was abandoning its plans to conduct military training in the area. A victory celebration is planned for August 23rd. They welcome messages of solidarity from allies around the world to be shared at this event. Here’s a message from a leader of the movement Hans-Peter Laubenthal <A-HPR@t-online.de>:
Big success for the German peace movement against the “bombodrom”
The “bombodrom” is a 120 square kilometers big area in Germany, 80 km north of Berlin. This area was used by the Russian Air Force as bombing and shooting training area (therefore named with the Russian word “bombodrom”). The people in this area suffered for the noise and the poisoning of the environment for more than 30 years. After the unification of Germany. they had hoped that this will stop. But since 1992 the German government wanted to use this area for the German Air Force. Since that time the people resisted to this plan, we have been resisting now for 17 years, and now we have won!! The German minister of defense declared, that the government gives up their plans to use the area as bombing and shooting training area.
Our success concerns not only Germany, but also the NATO and the military force of the European Union.
We resisted by three means:
1) Legal processes
2) Demonstrations and other legal protest
3) actions of civil disobedience (e.g. occupying the territory)
The concerned villages and enterprises went to the court. Altogether there were 27 verdicts. The German government lost them all, because they had not fulfilled the basic needs of a zoning procedure. Because of old laws from Nazi times our army thought they are especially privileged to choose any ground for military purposes. But in the end all courts decided that this old Nazi-law is no longer valid and they must investigate what influence the “bombodrom” would have to the citizens and their enterprises. The area is beautiful and can become a tourist attraction. During these 17 years several movements were able to build up wide spread resistance. In the last 8 years there was always the biggest Easter March of the peace movement in this area. Many actions took place to get photos into our media. See the homepage www.freieheide.de. Even if you cannot read German see the photos under “Fotogalerie”, so you can get an impression of some actions. I think the story of this resistance must be told to learn for similar situations.
The “bombodrom” is not only a German case, because not only the German Air Force and the Army were foreseen to train there but also all our allies. This was to be the central training ground also for the NATO Reaction Force and the European Battle Groups, which are formed now and are to be ready between 2011 and 2013. This was mentioned in the operation plan of the German ministry for defense for the air-ground-bombing-area Wittstock from 2008, August 28th.
In this operation plan also the “nuclear sharing” is mentioned. Germany is by no means a nuclear free zone. In the German airbase in Büchel, near the city of Cochem on the river Mosel the USA still have deployed 20 nuclear bombs of the types B-61-3 and B-61-4 in subterranean bunkers. And this 20 years after the Cold War has ended. The bombs have a variable power between 45 and 170 kilotons and therefore up to 13 times higher power for destruction than the bomb of Hiroshima. The nuclear bombs which have also been in Ramstein and Nörvenich have been removed.
The nuclear bombs are ready for use, when the US president gives the order and after the special code for the security systems has arrived on a separated way of commands. The USA claim to have the right to use their nuclear bombs, deployed in Europe, outside the NATO area for the support of their regional headquarter GENICOM which is “responsible” for the Middle East. Experts estimate, that there are still 240 nuclear bombs in Europe. On the German airbase Büchel US special forces with 50 soldiers guard the nuclear bombs. In case the order comes from Washington they would release the safety catch and fix them under the German Tornado-plane, which the German pilot then has to fly to the designated target. Even by military standards this makes no sense at all, for the Tornado jet s have a range of 1853 km. In this range there are only NATO allies.
The German government sticks to the nuclear bombs in Germany. On 2008, June 25th the speaker of the government Kossendystated that the people, who demand the withdrawal they “challenge the status of the Atlantic Alliance”, and “hinder the right of determination” and have in mind “to weaken the relationship between North America and Europe durably”.
It was planned, that the German Tornados coming with the nuclear bombs from Büchel should exercise at the “bombodrom”, how to drop the nuclear bombs. They were supposed to train the “loft-procedure”. According to the operation plan from 2003 the Tornados would come from south and at the training area go down to a low flight level and accelerate up to 1000 km/h. at a short distance to the goal they would go up steeply and release their training bombs. By this loft-procedure the bomb has a longer way, so that the pilot has enough time to escape with his plane from the explosion, that otherwise could destroy his own plane. They did these exercises mainly in the USA. Many experts thought that this training is no longer possible, because in the next years the Tornados will be replaced by Eurofighters, which cannot drop nuclear bombs. But in the latest operation plan you can read, that for the “nuclear sharing” 85 Tornados will be kept for this task, even after the year 2017.
All this plans cannot work, because of 17 years of resistance.
There will be a big “victory party” of the peace movement at August 23rd.
I ask you to send messages to us, so we can read them to the activists.
I hope you all also feel encouraged. It is possible to get rid of military bases, if you have enough energy to fight for years. Of course I know that it is not a final victory, because our Air Force will now try to get other training facilities in our neighbour country Poland. So the fight goes on.