War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986
This is what I said I think that from out OK. This is see no 1 8 interview with Patrick Kelly on the 20th of October. OK for a moment. OK now let's go back to him and start recently from the beginning. From your perspective from terms of the German peace movement what event almost one event would you say actually triggered the growth of the peace movement in Germany. It was triggered of course by the decision of the 12th December 1979 the deployment deployment decision to deploy first strike missiles like Pershing tools and cruise missiles in Europe. And from then on you grew very much from that point on. So you can maybe answer slightly longer. OK not our size of evaluation. A very short no no this is probably my discursive Friday but if I go to a different thing you're getting too long.
Right and I mean if I want to begin it's difficult then try going to content and why try then go into the content of why it had begun. Yes OK yes OK there's the slightly more discursive good. OK so just go on and OK. One of the reasons was of course the European peace movement felt that the deployment of these missiles on European soil on German soil would be a very grave danger towards the Soviet Union in that those missiles could reach the Soviet Union make it runnable within five to six minutes that it could cause surgical strikes strikes into the military infrastructure and of the strike into the military infrastructure could cause and effect world war 3 and atomic world war. And this could also be used for first strikes for surgical search first strikes into the Soviet Union. Another reason was of course that we felt that we have enough that we have enough tactical weapons Intercontinental weapons weapons a new ball its weapons on the planes that we do not need whatsoever these medium range missiles which has been called a kind of gap of vulnerability by him which meant
a lot of people would say to that that actually you misunderstood the relationship between detente and these for security. The peace movement has been told for the last several months that they have in fact failed very much I don't think we have failed I think that the consciousness raising in the public was done by the peace movement was done by the Greenham Common women by the people in Woodlawn and by the people and it was done by them by the people and so on the other hand the idea of deterrence which has been claimed that it works I don't believe it works. I believe that the decision now to count in the Persian ones the German systems with American warheads shows that we have been correct because we have always stated if you once negotiate these middle ranged weapons you must include all medium range weapons including all of the Persian one. Mr. Cole get in on that argument so I feel the peace movement has had a very big victory in fact which goes unnoticed or seemingly unnoticed. I also believe that we have shown our belief that we have been able to show that we need to open up you would make it a nonaligned it blocks Europe we have to start talking to each other and Gorbachev signs of
glasnost to mean that Mr. Schwartz Mr. Reagan walk away saying that they can stick with the Russians for the first time in a long time. It means there is some opening up and I believe we have helped open that up through our own contacts from the Western European peace moves to the Eastern European peace movement. OK but let me take you know what's happening and go back a little bit after 1979 and while the debate about different was still going on a lot of people would make a criticism of of the peace movement in Germany in the peace movement throughout Europe in fact and indeed and in the United States. But it was never really addressed as well to the Soviet build up of the SS 20 years. I mean that's that's of course also I think very wrong. I belong to the initiators of the Crusade apparently had repeatedly also asked this man 20 but we did not connect them that was the difference we didn't connect them because we felt that this was a step taken an unnecessary step by the American side and added to by the need to member countries who wanted to have a unilateral dispose drawing of Cruz. I'm still for you know drawing even if the talks would fail now in
the winter. On the other hand we feel that if the 20s were far to many had to be dismantled. But we also felt this is where we didn't get anything now proven that the British and French potentials which are increasing all the time must also be reduced. And of course that meant for us that that would be the package put on the table. Now in fact a compromise has been that the British and French are not being counted. So we did not get proven right in this point part. The Soviet Union had station the other SS missiles in Czechoslovakia in East Germany which were for them first strike weapons for us. They can reach us and this means that they're now being dismantled also the shorter range weapons. So in that sense we were able to get through at least in the public on our idea there must be a package on the table that you cannot compare pears and apples. What is happening now I think is a very good sign but it's only 4 or 5 percent of the total number of nuclear weapons being removed so it's just a small beginning to become conscious. I mean I am just. OK. I mean people have said that Weinberger Unlike you can
probably the best recruiting agents for the peace movement ever existed would you agree with the other one. Well I think have been many issues Cedric that recruited us on the one hand the very warlike talk that Mr. Reagan had when he said in one program and as a kind of a chilled out begin bombing in five minutes the Soviet Union or the kind of rhetoric that Mr. Haig had in that the others had of course included us. Many people were also recruited by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and others were recruited by Central America so it was a multifaceted recruitment of the peace movement and many of us like myself was recruited because of human rights questions in all areas but I think the most important point was the aspect of a possible limited nuclear war in Europe making Europe. And the battlefield for Central Europe and also having the feeling of the United States is in fact through all the other programs of weapons beginning to want to become invulnerable making itself fully invaluable and being able to cut out the military and political infrastructure through Persian to missiles from German soil and thereby learning as we have said a paralyzing the Soviet Union that was the arguments we had used and we have more or less been proven right in our
trying to analyze what kind of weapons were being deployed. I mean a lot of the people that we have interviewed already and are going to interview to say all this talk about starting a war in Europe and containing a war in Europe is complete nonsense. There was never any possibility of that happening. But I mean clearly a lot of people in Europe actually thought it was a serious possibility. I mean can you just describe for us. What made you believe that makes you think that it was a serious problem it was a serious possibility and still it is because the type of nuclear weapons which are becoming more minimalize more smaller more precise more position oriented in being able to target very precisely to make the step in which you use nuclear weapons more and more possible that means you don't you're not frighten away by the vast and terrible devastation. By and large nuclear weapons like the US is 20 we were frightened and many were frightened including the Catholic bishops the Protestant Church the peace movement many other people scientists were frightened
by the fact that you could within six seven minutes paralyze the political and military infrastructure of the Soviet Union through missiles which in fact do not make an all out war in the world but which two are very precise that by striking out and by making first strike that meant for us. That we asked the question. That's what Americans do they want us to sacrifice humble and cut for New York. And of course they would return the question by saying we won't sacrifice New York for you. But that was a very real question. Is your being sacrificed was a trouper superpowers then they did call it off after a first strike maybe decide we want to make an all out war after all. But I don't believe according to the strategies in the Pentagon there was a true belief that you can have a limited nuclear strike. And in fact NATO's idea to use nuclear weapons first in the case of a conventional attack saying that they will use nuclear weapons first shows to us they still have not learned that they're still believing that we can be the battlefield which you can exercise this kind of nuclear first strike or Also nuclear exchange of weapons. And that includes of course also the hundreds of thousands of small tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe which also make
a conventional war turning into a nuclear war very possible very quickly. What sort of people. I mean you said one of the reasons why people join the Peace Movement. How would you describe the people that were members of it. I think that the spectrum has never been so broad as the name and the Western European peace movement. So we of course had much close relations I was with the American peace movement very strong relationships. But it has been made up of many many caring Christian people very deep religious people. It has been made up of Communists of Social Democrats of some Christian Democrats persons like Dr. Symes are has been made up of people in the green people who have been nonviolent draft resisters who have been nonviolent activists who have been against nuclear power plants and against nuclear weapons but included also a segment of society which I had never seen so active before including doctors lawyers judges all kinds of professions and these professions began organizing themselves against nuclear war. And from there you had a very big group of doctors which then received the Nobel Prize so it was a very
strong in a very large movement. In fact the best everywhere in society it was not in any way a one eyed movement. Did I want to do now with quite a specific incident in the history of the peace movement and that was in 1983 there was a massive rally here in the east of the town of the stuff against the deployment of cruise in Persian. Did you feel at that particular point that it was still possible to stop the deployment. Well I myself personally it always said that I don't feel it possible in fact people are very angry with me for being so pessimistic. I feel that is something we cannot change because I was one of those who tried to lead the group into the Parliament to try to change it and I realized we could not change the majorities if the Social Democrats did not change their mind. They only change their minds very late. Had they changed their mind during the election of 83 I think we would have changed it. But they didn't change their mind in time and I think that the society the population was up to 75 percent against the deployment. So in that sense the parliament took a decision which was not reflective at all of
the position in the society. I think that there was a political will but it was stopped by the elections and which was to call 100 on the grounds of being economical and doing other kinds of programmes it was not a campaign run on the missile issue and if it had been on the missile issue we would have probably won the issue. But I myself I must say I feel very very pessimistic. And then later on in that year the deployment actually expedited decision was taken effect in 1983 at the height of demonstrations where we had over 300 sometimes even 500000 people. It was made in the MBR at the end of November. And again I think contrary to the popular belief of the people outside it should not there should not be any deployment. But how did you feel and how do you think affected the peace movement generally well in the one hand there was a very bad disappointment on the other hand there was still enough pressure and enough mobilization for people to go on and the activities were still a very strongly very very strong because that took place blockades. The group generals for peace were formed a group of nature generals affected by get busted for so
much activity in fact even the armed forces. The single soldiers were beginning to form even the soldiers became critical. A few but at least that was something in Germany and we ended up having much more activity on the other hand people felt that if they had already worked since 1979 that hard and that they were not getting across to the politicians they began mistrusting very much. Also the Social Democrats because they felt they had the most responsibility to him which Mitt had brought these missiles through his speech in London and here was the SPDC suddenly at the moment of two prime and turning against dismissals but Mr. Kohl deploying them. The situation was quite ironic. You couldn't really blame Cole you had to blame the Democrats. And yet they said no no we are against and now we're on your side and that has been of course the Social Democrats join the Peace Movement. But really Brown made his first speech I think it was 1984 a year later to the peace movement which to me was very tragic because having made a speech two years ago there might have been a way to stop the deployment right now. I mean to get on to what people are saying at the moment are they now
saying I mean with the prospect of an IMF treaty perhaps in a few months time. I mean everybody is now saying you see we would like to along the deployment decision was absolutely correct because we've negotiated more than one. He was right after the crash. For starters that's of course the argument we've been meeting for the last few months very strongly just negotiating from strength. In fact there's some green unfortunately including my colleague Mr. Shelley and others who believe it almost nearly in belief saying that it was Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev goodwill that brought this about. I think that Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Reagan could never have thought about if they had not been the climate the climate that has been created by the peace movement that is first of all I think very clear. Second of all I think the Soviet Union has made many compromises including on SDI which is of a compromise I did not believe they would make including on the French and British missiles. So I feel that is not alone in any way a victory of Mr. Reagan to say that this zero option that he has offered has now worked because when he offered that zero option. The Russians had not yet deployed in
Czechoslovakia and in DDR in East Germany. Now the Russians are taking out more missiles than in fact the United States has has to sacrifice. So I find it has been really the idea of the new thinking taking place slowly as they only slowly in the Soviet Union that has helped us bring about this very big I think it's Arman success. But again I stress we are still not happy with that decision alone. We feel that we must do everything possible to find other ways to remove the other missiles because we find 4 percent for 2000 missiles being removed. Very little. But we do feel that we have been proven correct when the United States admits openly that these missiles are the most dangerous at the moment deployed in Europe and at least in that sense they have begun understanding our argument that we have said all along that these missiles are quite destabilizing quite destabilizing even if theyre deployed in times of peace and of course argue from a position of strength the peace movement is not belief that we don't believe in deterrence. And I can sit here and say that till I'm blue in my face but I believe that deterrence thinking will lead us into further conflicts and to further politicization. I believe that the
idea of doing it through strings is wrong and that I believe also and this I think should be watched to determine government and they too is looking for every way possible to compensate for this deployment. Through tactical short range weapons through new deployment new boats through new deployment of very intelligent conventional weapons that are now being created and through many many other forms of nuclear planning which frightens me if I hear Mr general Galvin the new successor of Mr. Rogers talking about in you enough to end you further rearming nucular rearming that he's talking about compensating for the fruitlessness being removed I find that very very dangerous really. I mean the events that are happening now where we're seeing to some extent Reagan and President Gorbachev are actually doing what you originally said yesterday don't you think that is what the original message was about in any event that was in any event the message was obvious that we had demonstrated in Geneva also many times the message was always you would like them to sit down and start disarming.
We would like them to look each other into their face Reykjavik was a sign of hope to at that time we thought they were finally going to do that we realized it was a feeling because of Mr. Reagan at the very last moment pulling out. But what we have always said was the two superpowers must get and sit down together but we also felt that all other nuclear powers including the two others in Asia because we have three nuclear powers that need to should also sit down. And that disappoints me in a way that the others are more of us watching with the two superpowers doing in our in fact modernizing in fact that must be the message coming across that we would like all of them to put down the nuclear weapons and I think psychologically the breakthrough of the IMF is probably the biggest psychological success we can win because it actually means that the population is realizing that you can disarm. You can remove these persons in Cruzan as 20 and you can still live safely. That's probably the best message you can get across. That was our message in 1979. Take all these missiles and we can live safely. Don't deploy them. We can live just as we have been living we can live peacefully if there is such a thing as a cold peace that we have at the moment. But I also think that it could only be possible now under in this to
Gorbachev I don't believe it was possible up to that time before him. So I think at least through his being able to think in a different manner and also questioning to turn slowly in questioning military strategies that we can get to another area and I think that's what this is the most important to discuss military strategies. What kind of offensive potential Do they have. So I believe this breakthrough is probably something that we have to celebrate that night in fact we have to discuss because many members of the peace movement that we should make it kind of ritual of peace vigil to tell people we're here don't forget us. We help this happen and that we have many other demands going beyond that. John o Groats on the right. Except my
father you. Know I Learned From the movement because if you had watched the debate in the parliament with the extreme right wing on them if they had gone to Washington pleading that there should be no decision and pleading for the Germany. Words were used like German nuclear weapons existing and of course the word German nuclear weapons does not exist. We have no German nuclear weapons and we had made clear over and over including in June of this year with a hundred thousand people that we don't want any Persian ones remaining behind they have to be counted in because it's as American warheads of the German system they are American nuclear missiles that are being used here and we do not want to call on Mr. Strauss to start getting ideas about nuclear cooperation in German the word is called nuke it out of a tile have it meaning that the Germans are looking to have more influence on nuclear planning and I think that the decision of Mr. Cole under pressure I believe also by the American government by the
- Raw Footage
- Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986
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- Petra Kelly was one of the founders of the German Green Party. In the interview she discusses her views of the European peace movement and the development of arms control. Her opening comments focus on the debates over Pershing II and cruise missile deployments in the late 1970s, opposition to which, she says, triggered the peace movement in Germany. She defends the movement from various criticisms, explains its diverse reach across Europe, and credits it with important successes. In her opinion, the increased possibility of a limited nuclear strike in Europe was the most important explanation for the rise of the movement, and she adds that this concern continues to grow as nuclear weapons become smaller and more precise. On the question of credit for recent arms control progress, her view is that Reagan and Gorbachev would not have succeeded without the positive climate brought about by the peace movement. She expresses views on a variety of other issues including the ineffectiveness of deterrence the current state of arms control, and the pressures Chancellor Kohl is facing from the peace movement and the U.S. government.
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- North Atlantic Treaty Organization; SS-20 Missile; Afghanistan; Great Britain; France; Soviet Union; United States; Germany; Cruise missiles; Strategic Defense Initiative; Pershing (Missile); Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik; nuclear weapons; Nuclear arms control; Peace movements; Antinuclear movement; Todenhofer, Jurgen, 1940-; Kohl, Helmut, 1930-; Weinberger, Caspar W.; Schmidt, Helmut, 1918 Dec. 23-; Gorbachev, Mikhail; Reagan, Ronald; Shultz, George Pratt, 1920-
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Interviewee2: Kelly, Petra Karin, 1947-1992
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: 3a8671092a9609ab690f3abec4b102d1b0200914 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
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- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986,” 1986-12-16, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 7, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-rf5k931f24.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986.” 1986-12-16. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 7, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-rf5k931f24>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-rf5k931f24