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WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE - TAPE C10018 PETRA KELLY
Defense of the European Peace Movement and Its Aims
Interviewer:
OK, NOW, LET'S GO BACK TO AND START REASONABLY FROM THE BEGINNING. FROM
YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN TERMS OF THE GERMAN PEACE MOVEMENT WHAT EVENT OR
WHAT, WHAT ONE EVENT WOULD YOU SAY ACTUALLY TRIGGERED THE GROWTH OF, OF
THE PEACE MOVEMENT IN GERMANY?
Kelly:
Well it was triggered off of course by the decision of 12 December
1979, the deployment to, the deployment decision to deploy first-strike
missile strike Pershings IIs and cruise missiles in Europe and from
then on it grew very much from that point on.
Interviewer:
You can make the answer slightly longer...
Kelly:
...One of the reasons was of course that the European peace movement
felt that the deployment of these missiles on European soil, on German
soil would be a very great danger towards the Soviet Union in that
those missiles could reach the Soviet Union, make it vulnerable within
five to six minutes, that it could surgical strikes, strikes into the
military infrastructure and that a strike into the military
infrastructure could cause in fact World War III, an atomic world war
and that this could also be used for first strike, for surgical search,
first strike into the Soviet Union. Another reason was of course that
we felt that we have enough, that we have enough tactical weapons,
inter-continent weapons, weapons on uboats, weapons on the planes that
we do not need whatsoever these medium-range missile which has been
called a kind of gap of vulnerability by Helmut Schmidt.
Interviewer:
A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY TO THAT THOUGH THAT ACTUALLY YOU
MISUNDERSTOOD THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DETENTE AND THE NEED FOR
SECURITY.
Kelly:
Well 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
Mutland, by the people in Hassel, it was done by them, the people in
Comiso. On the other hand the idea of deterrence which is being claimed
that it works, I don't believe it works. I believe that the decision
now to count in the Pershing Is, the German, and systems with American
warheads shows that we have been correct because we have always stated
if you want to negotiate these middle-range weapons you must include
all medium-range weapons including also the Pershing I. Mr. Kohl gave
in on that argument so I feel that the peace movement has had a very
big victory in fact, which goes unnoticed or seemingly unnoticed. I
also believe that we have shown, or I believe that we have been able to
show that we need to open up Europe and make it a non-ally and...for
Europe. We have to start talking to each other and Gorbachev's signs of
Glastnost do mean that but Mr. Schultz and Mr. Reagan walk away saying
that they can speak with the Russian for the first time in a long time
it means there is something opening up and I believe we have helped
open that up through our own contacts from the Western European peace
movement to the Eastern European peace movement.
Interviewer:
OK , BUT LET ME TAKE, YOU KNOW, WHAT'S HAPPENING IN, GO BACK A LITTLE
BIT AFTER 1979 AND WHILE THE DEBATE ABOUT DEPLOYMENT WAS STILL GOING ON
A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD MAKE THE CRITICISM OF, OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT IN
GERMANY AND THE PEACE MOVEMENT THROUGHOUT EUROPE IN FACT AND INDEED IN,
IN, IN THE UNITED STATES THAT IT WAS NEVER REALLY ADDRESSED AS WELL TO
THE SOVIET BUILD-UP WITH THE SS-20S, I MEAN WHAT..?
Kelly:
That's, that's of course also I think very wrong. I belong to the
initiators of the... and we had repeatedly also asked the dismantling
of the SS-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 NATO member
countries. We want to have a unilateral withdrawing of Pershings and
cruise. I'm still... even if the talks would fail now in the winter. On
the other hand we felt that SS-20s were far too many, had to be
dismantled but we also felt, and 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 collared in so we
did not get proven right on this point but the Soviet Union had
stationed the other SS missiles in Czechoslovakia and 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 our idea that it 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 four or five per cent of the total number of nuclear
weapons being removed. So it's just a small beginning.
Interviewer:
CAN WE CUT THERE? CAN I JUST, I MEAN I... I MEAN PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT
HAGUE AND WEINBERGER AND REAGAN WERE PROBABLY THE BEST RECRUIT: AGENTS
FOR THE PEACE MOVEMENT THAT EVER EXISTED. WHAT, WOULD YOU AGREE WITH
THAT OR WHAT?
Kelly:
Well I think that in many issues it recruited us. On the one hand the
very war-like talk that Mr. Reagan had for, when he said in one program
as a kind of joke, I'll begin bombing in five minutes the Soviet Union
was a kind of rhetoric that Mr. Hague had and that the others had of
course recruited us. Many people were also recruited by the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan and others were recruited by Central America.
So it was a multi-faceted recruitment of the peace movement and many of
us like myself were also recruited because of human rights questions in
all areas. But I think the most important point was the aspect of a
possible limited nuclear wear in Europe making Europe a battlefield for
Central Europe, and also having the feeling that the United States is
in fact through all its other programs of weapons beginning to want to
become invulnerable, making itself fully invulnerable and being able to
cut out the military and political infrastructure through Pershing II
missiles from German soil and thereby laming as we have said or
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.
Possibility of Limited Nuclear Strike
Interviewer:
I MEAN A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE HAVE INTERVIEWED ALREADY AND ARE
GOING TO INTERVIEW WILL SAY ALL THIS TALK ABOUT STARTING A WAR IN
EUROPE AND CONTAINING A WAR IN EUROPE IS COMPLETE NONSENSE, THAT 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 THERE WAS,
MAKES YOU THINK THAT IT WAS A SERIOUS POSSIBILITY.
Kelly:
Well it was a serious possibility and it still is because the type of
nuclear weapons which are becoming more minimalized, more smaller, more
precise, more precision-oriented is being able to hit a target very
precisely make the step at which you use nuclear weapons more and more
possible, that means you don't, you're not frightened away by the vast
and terrible devastation by large nuclear weapons like the SS-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 do it very precisely by striking out and by
making first strikes, that meant for us that we ask the question does
Americans, do they want us to sacrifice Hamburg and Stuttgart 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 Europe
being sacrificed while the two superpowers then maybe call it off after
first strike, maybe decide we won't make an all-out war after all. But
I do 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 a 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 on which you can exercise this kind of nuclear first strike
or other nuclear exchange of weapons and that includes of course also
the hundreds and thousands of small tactical nuclear weapons stationed
in Europe which also make a conventional war turning into a nuclear war
very possible, very quickly.
Members of the Peace Movement
Interviewer:
WHAT SORT OF PEOPLE, I MEAN YOU'VE SAID WHY, THE REASONS WHY PEOPLE
JOINED THE PEACE MOVEMENT. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PEOPLE THAT WERE
MEMBERS OF IT?
Kelly:
I think that the spectrum has never been so broad as in the Western
European peace movement, though we of course had much closer relations
obviously 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, for instance like Dr. Franz
Allenz. It's been made up of people in the Greens, people who have been
on violent draft resistance, who have been non-violent activists, who
have been against nuclear power plants and against nuclear weapons. It
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 that you had the very big group of doctors which received the
Nobel Prize, so it was a very strong and a very large movement in fact
based everywhere in society. It was not in any way a one-eyed movement.
Deployment of the Pershing Missile
Interviewer:
DID, I WANT TO DEAL NOW WITH QUITE A SPECIFIC INCIDENT IN, IN THE
HISTORY OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT AND THAT WAS IN 1983 THERE WAS A MASSIVE
RALLY IN EASTER, AT THE TIME OF EASTER AGAINST THE DEPLOYMENT OF CRUISE
AND PERSHING. DID YOU FEEL AT THAT PARTICULAR POINT THAT IT WAS STILL
POSSIBLE TO STOP THE DEPLOYMENT?
Kelly:
Well I myself personally had always said that I don't really feel it
possible. In fact people were very angry with me for being so
pessimistic. I felt that it was something we cannot change because I
was one of those who tried to lead the Green into the parliament to try
to change it and I realized we could not change the majorities if the
Social Democrats had not change their minds. They only changed their
mind 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 society. I think
that there was a will there, a political will but it was stopped by the
elect: and which Mr. Kohl wanted on the grounds of being economic and
doing other kinds of programs. It was not a, a campaign round 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 felt very, very
pessimistic.
Interviewer:
AND THEN LATER ON IN THAT YEAR THE DEPLOYMENT ACTUALLY ...
Kelly:
The deployment decision was taken in fact in 1983- At the height of
demonstrations where we had over 300, sometimes even 500,000 people, it
was then made in November, at the end of November and again I think
contrary to the popular; belief of the people outside that should not,
there should not be any deployment.
Interviewer:
BUT HOW DID YOU FEEL AND HOW DO YOU THINK THAT AFFECTED THE, THE PEACE
MOVEMENT GENERALLY?
Kelly:
Well on the one hand I was a very bad disappointment. On the other hand
there was still enough pressure and enough mobilization for people to
go on in their activities. We're still a very strong in '83, very, very
strong because there took place prominent blockades, the group Generals
for Peace and Disarmament was formed a group of NATO generals...was a
much activity. In fact even the armed forces, single soldiers were
beginning to...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 weren't getting across to the
politicians, they began mistrusting very much also the Social Democrats
because they felt they had the most responsibility. Mr. Helmut Schmidt
had brought these missiles through his speech in London and here was
the SDP suddenly at the moment of deployment turning against these
missiles but Mr. Kohl deploying them, so the situation was quite
ironic. You couldn't really blame Kohl. You had to blame the Social
Democrats and yet they said now, now we're against them, now we're on
your side and that is when of course the Social Democrats joined the
peace movement, where Willy Brandt made his first speech, I think it
was in 1984, a year later, to the peace movement, which to me was very
tragic because had he made the speech two years ago there might have
been a way to stop the deployment.
Current State of Arms Control
Interviewer:
ALRIGHT. NOW, I MEAN TO GET ONTO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING AT THE MOMENT.
THEY'RE NOW SAYING, I MEAN AS, WITH THE PROSPECT OF AN INF TREATY
PERHAPS IN A FEW MONTHS TIME, I MEAN EVERYBODY IS NOW SAYING YOU SEE,
WE WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG. THE DEPLOYMENT DECISION WAS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT
BECAUSE WE'VE NEGOTIATED THEM ALL THE WAY ...
Kelly:
Right, that's of course the argument that we've been meeting for the
last few months very strongly this negotiating from strength. In fact
there are some Green unfortunately, including my colleague Mr. Schinny
and others who believe it almost nearly and believe saying that it was
Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev's goodwill that brought this about. I
think that Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Reagan could never have brought about
if there 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 were compromise I did not believe they would make, including
on the French and British missiles. So I feel that it's not alone in
any way a victory of Mr. Reagan to say that this zero option that he
offered has now worked because when he offered that zero option the
Russians had not yet deploys in Czechoslovakia and DDR, in East
Germany. Now the Russians are taking out more missiles that in fact the
United States has, has to sacrifice, so I find it has been really ideal
for the new thinking taking place slowly as ...in the Soviet Union that
has helped us bring about this very big I think ...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 you find 4%, 2,000 missiles being removed very little
but we do feel that we have 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 these missiles
are quite destabilizing, quite destabilizing even if they're deploy in
times of peace, and of course either from a position of strength, the
peace movement does not believe 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 proliferation. I believe that the whole idea of doing it
through strength is wrong and that I believe also and this I think
should be watched that the German Government and NATO is looking for
every way possible to compensate for this deployment through tactical
short-range weapons, through a new deployment on uboats, 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 Gauden, the new successor of Mr.
Rogers talking about a new...a new further re-arming, nuclear re-arming
then he's talking about compensating for the, the missiles being now
removed and I find that very, very dangerous.
Interviewer:
REALLY, I MEAN THE EVENTS THAT ARE HAPPENING NOW, WE'RE, WE'RE SEEING
TO SOME EXTENT REAGAN AND PRESIDENT GORBACHEV ACTUALLY DOING WHAT YOU
ORIGINALLY SAID ...
Kelly:
Yes.
Interviewer:
... DON'T YOU THINK THAT, THAT IS WHAT THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE WAS ABOUT
IN ANY EVENT?
Kelly:
That was in any event. Yes, the message was always a way of
demonstrating in Geneva. Also many times the message was always we
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 too at
that time and we thought they were finally going to do that. We
realized it was failing because of Mr. Reagan at the very last moment
pulling out but what we have always said was the two super powers must
get and sit down together but we also felt that all other nuclear
powers, including the two others in NATO because we have three nuclear
powers and NATO should also sit down and that disappoints me in a way
that the others are more or less watching what the two super powers are
doing and are in fact modernizing. In fact that must be the message
coming across that we would like all of them to put down their nuclear
weapons and I think psychologically the breakthrough at the INF 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 Pershings and cruise and SS-20 and you can still
live safely that's probably the best message we can get across. That
was our message in 1979. Take out 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 Mr. 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 deterrence slowly and questioning
military strategies that we can get to another area and I think that
what is the most important now is all the discussions of 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 last week we have discussed with many members of the
peace movement that we should make a kind of vigil, a 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.
Interviewer:
FINAL QUESTION. YOU SAID TO ME YOU HELPED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN ...
Kelly:
Yeah.
Interviewer:
JUST TELL US HOW YOU FELT EARLIER THIS YEAR CHANCELLOR KOHL GAVE GRANTS
FIRST OF ALL ON THE DOUBLE ZERO AND THEN ON THE PERSHING 10. THIS IS
THE CDU...
Kelly:
Right.
Interviewer:
...ACCEPTING THE POSITION
Kelly:
Yes, yes, yes.
Interviewer:
...IN A WAY WHICH MIGHT HAVE BEEN THOUGHT...HOW DO YOU, IN ENGLISH THE
EXPRESSION IS HAVING YOUR CLOTHES BURNT ...
Kelly:
Yes.
Interviewer:
...WOULD, IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT CHANCELLOR KOHL HAS . . .?
Kelly:
No, in fact I think Chancellor Kohl learned very strongly from the
pressure through the peace movement because if you had watched the
debate in the parliament where the extreme right-wing under Mr. Drager,
Mr. Totenhorfer, had gone to Washington pleading that there should be
no double track zero decision and pleading for the Pershing Is to stay
in 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 100,000 people that we don't want any
Pershing Is being, remaining behind. They have to be counted in because
it's as American warheads and a German system, they are American
nuclear missiles that are being used here and we do not want Mr. Kohl
or Mr. Strauss to start getting ideas about nuclear co-operation. In
Germany the word is called...meaning that the Germans are looking to
have more influence in nuclear planning and I think that the decision
of Mr. Kohl under pressure I believe also by the American Government by
the way to no count in the Pershing Is, to give it up, is a very, very
major victory for us because that was the demand in June in the...in
Bonn of 120,000 people and I think that Mr. Kohl nearly, nearly made
these talks fail if he had not given in but if you listen to the news
in these few days now you will hear the CSU is still maintaining that
they were correct, the Pershing Is should not be counted in, and that's
to us of course the typical reaction of the right-wing, that they, do
they -want to accept the double zero option. They are against the
double zero option so I think it's worse in fact and I had believed
that the Germans and in fact the German Government is in fact looking
to have more and more voice in getting perhaps in the future nuclear
weapons on their own, and I find that to be probably the worst
situation is the deployment and the removal of the deployment leads to
the Europeans becoming a third nuclear military super force themselves
is not what we wanted, but that's a very big inherent danger, that the
Europeans begin feeling insecure, the governments, and feel that they
should re-arm nuclearly, and I think that would be a very, very bad
development.
[END OF TAPE C10018 AND TRANSCRIPT]
Series
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Raw Footage
Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/15-rf5k931f24
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-rf5k931f24).
Description
Episode Description
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.
Date
1986-12-16
Date
1986-12-16
Asset type
Raw Footage
Topics
Global Affairs
Military Forces and Armaments
Subjects
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-
Rights
Rights Note:,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:All,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
00:19:58
Embed Code
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Credits
Interviewee2: Kelly, Petra Karin, 1947-1992
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
WGBH
Identifier: 3a8671092a9609ab690f3abec4b102d1b0200914 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: Quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:00:00
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Citations
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Petra Kelly, 1986,” 1986-12-16, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 1, 2022, 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 (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 1, 2022. <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 (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-rf5k931f24