Peace activists lead German Easter marches | News | DW | 07.04.2012
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Peace activists lead German Easter marches

The traditional Easter peace marches in Germany are under way, with organizers condemning the German involvement in Afghanistan and military recruitment in schools, which has increased since the end of conscription.

Peace activists in several German cities took to the streets in annual Easter marches on Saturday, protesting against violence, nuclear weapons and Germany's involvement in foreign military conflicts.

The western city of Duisburg saw one of the first marches over Easter weekend on Saturday morning with 300 to 400 participants showing up, according to organizers. The march took place under the motto: "Yes to the civil resolution of future problems - No to war, atomic weapons and interior militarization - No to NATO."

Willi Hoffmeister, a long-time peace march organizer and participant, said he was "very happy" with the turn-out, saying more people took part than in previous years.

Marches are planned in more than 40 cities across Germany through Monday.

The first Easter peace march took place in 1960, with about 1,200 people demonstrating at the Bergen-Hohne military training area in northern Germany to protest training maneuvers with atomic weapons. By 1968 the movement had spread to more than 300,000 people across hundreds of cities in West Germany.

The political focus of the marches has shifted over the decades, as have their numbers. Recent years have focused on ending the German military involvement in Afghanistan and other foreign conflict zones.

Some organizers have also criticized German military recruitment in schools, which has increased since Germany switched from conscription to an all-volunteer force last year.

acb/tj (dapd, dpa, epd)