Thousands turn out for Easter peace marches across Germany
More than 100 events were planned this weekend calling for an end to German arms exports to crisis areas. Decades after their Cold War heyday, the annual peace marches are still going strong.
Thousands rally for disarmament
Thousands of people gathered under peace flags like this one in the northeastern city of Rostock for Germany's traditional anti-war Easter marches this weekend under the theme "disarm instead of rearm — ban nuclear weapons."
'Housing and daycare instead of war infrastructure'
Protesters in Stuttgart called for shifting money away from defense spending. "In the coming years, arms expenditure is to be increased to up to €70 billion ($78.7 billion) per year," said Philipp Ingenleuf of the pacifist Network of the German Peace Movement. The money could be "invested much more sensibly" in education, housing construction or climate protection, he said.
Protesters demand removal of US nukes
For years, rallies have drawn attention to the deployment of US nuclear weapons in Germany and demonstrators have called for their removal. A 2019 YouGov poll showed 59% of Germans would like all US nuclear weapons removed from Germany, while 18% would like them to remain.
'Work instead of deportation'
While war and weapons exports have traditionally been the focus of Germany's Easter peace marches, demonstrators have also pushed for social justice and equality and protecting the environment. These people called for "Work instead of deportation" as a right for people who have immigrated to Germany looking to improve their lives.
Rallies in over 100 German cities
The largest march in Germany, the three-day Rhine-Ruhr march, started on Saturday with around 300 demonstrators in Duisburg. Rallies were held from Friday to Monday in roughly 100 cities across Germany, including Berlin, Munich, Chemnitz, Leipzig and Frankfurt.
More than 60 years of mobilizing
Germany's Easter marches for peace have their roots in a British anti-nuclear march that took place over Easter in 1958. The marches mobilized hundreds of thousands of demonstrators until the 1980s, whereas today only a few hundred activists can be counted in most cities.