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New open letter: 'Yes' to weapons for Ukraine

May 5, 2022

Pianist Igor Levit, Nobel laureate Herta Müller and 55 other intellectuals have sent an appeal to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. They say Germany should supply heavy weapons to Ukraine.

 Igor Levit
Pianist Igor Levit is one of the signatories of a letter urging heavy weapons shipments to UkraineImage: Felix Broede/Sony Music/dpa/picture alliance

In an open letter initiated by former Green politician Ralf Fücks, 57 intellectuals have called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to support Ukraine with heavy weapons

Signatories include prominent German figures from the media, academia and politics, such as writers Eva Menasse and Herta Müller, pianist Igor Levit, politician Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Deniz Yücel, the president of the PEN Center Germany and Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner.

The letter encourages Scholz to "swiftly put into action the Bundestag's resolution for arms deliveries to Ukraine." The letter argues that "whoever wants a negotiated peace that does not amount to Ukraine's submission to Russian demands must strengthen its defense capability and weaken Russia's war capability to the maximum."

Reaction to letter against arms deliveries

Their text was written in reaction to a previous letter published last week on the website of Germany's Emma magazine. Also signed by artists and intellectuals, including prominent feminist Alice Schwarzer, it sparked heavy online discussion for its anti-weapons stance. It stated that "escalating arms buildup under pressure" could be the beginning of a "global arms spiral with catastrophic consequences."

 The authors of the new text argue instead that it's in Germany's interest to "prevent a success of the Russian war of aggression." They warn that every war carries the "risk of escalation." But Putin's use of nuclear weapons cannot be stopped by "concessions to the Kremlin," they say, adding that it would only encourage Russia to "further military adventures." The danger of nuclear escalation can only be countered by credible deterrence.

Herta Müller
Nobel Prize laureate Herta Müller is another signatory of the new letterImage: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

Meanwhile, author Katja Lange-Müller, a signatory to the first letter, has said that signing it was a "mistake." In an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung, she wrote that she stands by her "fear that the avalanche of Russian aggression could also overtake us. But the fact that I signed the Emma letter to Chancellor Scholz torments my conscience."

She wrote that she does not want to "presume to know what will protect and help us and prevent us from getting deeper and deeper into this war."

Other European countries, too, are debating whether to supply weapons to Ukraine. The authors of this week's open letter state, however, that at this time the "determination and unity of Europe and the West" is needed and that Germany must not take a "special path."

This article was originally written in German.