“A Source of Energy for New Action!” Transnational Pacifist Networks and German Peace Movements, 1921–66

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:40 PM
Iowa Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Shelley E. Rose, Cleveland State University
In 1963 a group of British peace activists attempted to jump from an airplane as it taxied the runway at the Düsseldorf Airport as they returned home.  The controversy surrounding the presence of foreign pacifists in Germany revealed the extent of cooperation between national peace movements as well as changing perceptions of transnational influences in German politics.  This paper argues for increased attention to transnational contacts between peace activists across national boundaries.  Through four case studies between 1921 and 1966, this paper investigates how developing peace networks fostered the transmission of ideas, strategies and participants between nation-based peace organizations.  German “No More War” organizers in the 1920s, for example, maintained ties to the British movement and encouraged activists from other nations to participate in their demonstrations.  In 1927, Munich pacifists drew on established peace networks, gathering materials from around the world for a transnational exhibit that raised German awareness of pacifism and displayed the integration of transnational networks in the local pacifist community.  The success of developing transnational networks was tested further during the Nazi dictatorship.  In one instance, activists in exile worked together in a campaign to save German pacifist and concentration camp prisoner Carl von Ossietzky through a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.  Finally, the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and German Easter March Movement of the 1960s demonstrated the full scope of transnational peace potential.  German Easter March founder Hans-Konrad Tempel drew on his personal experiences with British antinuclear marches and brought the Easter March strategy to German soil in 1960.  Participants from various nations joined the German marches, drawing transnational attention to the movement and promoting transnational awareness among German participants.  This paper demonstrates that common struggles for peace and disarmament provided critical transnational linkages between national peace activists that had lasting effects on German extra-parliamentary politics.
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