Joining passionate peace activists in Germany this summer, Ann Suellentrop, a Board member of PeaceWorks-KC, is helping protest the 20 US nuclear weapons at the Büchel, Germany, Air Force Base. Across the road from the base, the international peace people set up a camp each year and conduct 20 weeks of protests at the base entry—one week for each bomb.

Ann at the computer and Ernst and Hans at work preparing a meal.

Ann gave three talks in June, played “We Shall Overcome” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” on her saxophone, and shared stories of US protests against increased funding for nuclear weapons. Ann sent texts and pictures to PeaceWorks, and was glad the protesters called her “the highlight” of their events. She asked in advance whether, in her talks, she should explain the horrors of nuclear weapons and rising funds for renovating them, and she was told her listeners knew all that—they wanted Ann to speak about why she’s fighting nuclear weapons. She always connects that with her work with new babies and their mothers, her desire to foster new life. “At the end of my presentation the other day,” Ann texted June 24, “I told them my ancestors came from Germany. And I said maybe together we can heal the world of the massive evil of nuclear weapons. They really appreciated that.”

A member of the KC chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ann was a key participant in the protest week of June 17-23, including more than 10 members of the International Physicians to Prevent Nuclear War (IPPNW). In one picture, three of the physicians or other health professionals hold the sign “atomwaffenfrei jetzt”: atom-bomb-free now! In the kitchen at the camp, in another picture, Ann uses the computer while Ernst and Hans prepare a meal. “I’m informally talking to people about the KC Plant everywhere I go,” Ann texted, referring to the old plant at Bannister Federal Complex, and the new one—plants for making non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons.

Among the signs at the Büchel camp are a huge banner/reprint of Guernica, by Pablo Picasso, and “Im krieg, gewinnt nur einer,”—In war, only one (nur einer) wins (gewinnt). A leader among the protesters, Brigid, in one picture wears a sign purposely for the base officers and employees: “Wir sind night gegen Sie sondern gegen die Atomwaffen,”—We are not against you but against the atom bomb. The website for the Büchel protest is www.buechelatombombenfrei.de (with the “de” at the end for Germany, Deutschland). The site’s international section includes English.

A farmer near the air force base lets the protesters keep their signs up all year on his fences, including “Atomwaffen abschaffen,”—nuclear bombs must go. The German people know the US has its nuclear weapons on German bases, and if the US orders an attack on Russia, for example, a bomb would be dropped by a German soldier in a German bomber. Also, the new B61-12 program with smaller, more “usable” bombs, costing more than $12 billion if authorized after 2020, might bring new bombs to Büchel. According to the Fall 2017 Nukewatch Quarterly, a March 2016 public opinion poll conducted by IPPNW found that 93 percent of Germans want nuclear weapons banned; 85 percent agree that US nuclear weapons should be withdrawn from Germany; and 88 percent oppose US plans to replace the current weapons with the new B61-12.

Holding fast to hope, the protesters displayed the sign “Friedensnobelpreis2017”—Nobel Peace Prize 2017—for ICAN, the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which both the protest groups in Büchel and those in Kansas City and the US (through Peace Action) are members…and co-winners of the prize. PeaceWorks members may recall that Marion Kupker, of Germany, visited us last year and described the protests she started at Büchel, and now Ann has joined her. Bravo!

Notes: These comments were compiled by Jane Stoever from texts from Ann Suellentrop. Ann took most of the pictures.

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