May 7, 2015
Translated from German by Tom Winter
Translator’s note: News of this warning from the generals of the former DDR has been all over the European press. Here is the actual document.
Documented: The leadership of the former East German Forces warns of war and calls for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia
As military personnel who held responsible positions in the DDR armed forces, we have turned to the German public in great concern over the maintenance of peace and the survival of civilization in Europe.
In the years of the Cold War, in which we lived through long stretches of confrontation and militarization right up to the edge of open conflict, we employed our military expertise for the maintenance of peace and the protection of our socialist German Democratic Republic. The National People’s Army was not involved for a single day in armed conflict, and in the events of 1989-90 it played a leading role in seeing to it that no arms came into use. Peace was always the number one maxim of our dealings. And that is why we firmly oppose using the military factor as an instrument of policy. Experience makes clear that the burning questions of our time are not to be solved by military means.
It is worth remembering that the Soviet Army bore the brunt of the demolition of fascism in the Second World War. Alone 27 million Soviet citizens gave their lives for this historic victory. We owe them, and the allies, our gratitude here on this 70th anniversary of the liberation.
Now we note that war has again become mankind’s constant companion. The new world order run by the US and her allies has in recent times led to wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan, in Libya and Somalia. About two million people are victims of these wars, and millions have become refugees.
Now the vents of war have reached Europe. It is plain to see that the US strategy is to eliminate Russia as a competitor and to weaken the EU. In recent years NATO has crept ever closer to Russia’s borders. With the attempt to put Ukraine into NATO, the cordon sanitaire would be locked in from the Baltic States to the Black Sea, in order to isolate Russia from the rest of Europe. By the American planning, any German-Russian alliance would be difficult or impossible.
In order to influence the public in this direction, an unprecedented media campaign is in full swing, where the incorrigible pols and the corrupt journalists are beating the drums of war. The Federal Republic of Germany, in this heated-up atmosphere ought to be playing a role for the advancement of peace. Germany’s geopolitical placement and its historical experience and the objective interests of her people all demand this, just the contrary to the bundespresident’s calls towards greater military responsibility, and the war hysteria and russophobia stirred up by the media.
Putting the spurs to the militarization of eastern Europe is not playing with fire, it is playing with war!
With awareness of the destructive nature of modern war and in fulfillment of our responsibilities as citizens, we say in plain clarity: here, already, there begins a crime against humanity.
Are the many dead of the Second World War, the huge destruction throughout all Europe, the refugee streams and the endless sorrow of humanity forgotten already? Haven’t the newest wars of the US and NATO brought enough grief ? Haven’t they already demanded enough human life?
Don’t we understand what a military conflict in the densely populated continent of Europe would mean? Here would come warplanes in their hundreds, armed drones laden with bombs and rockets, thousands of tanks and armored vehicles, artillery systems. In the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea the most modern warships would fight, and, waiting in the wings, atomic bombs.
There would be no distinction of front and not-front. Mothers, by the million would mourn their children and their husbands, their fathers, their brothers. The landscape of Europe would be that of a wasteland.
Should it come to this? No, a thousand times, NO!
Therefore we turn to the German public:
Any such scenario must get stopped.
We don’t need any rhetoric of war, we need instead polemics of peace.
We don’t need any missions abroad for the Bundeswehr, and we don’t need any EU Army.
We don’t need more funding for military goals; we need funding for social needs and humanitarian needs.
We don’t need any war fever against Russia; we need more mutual understanding, coexistence and neighborliness.
We don’t need any military dependence on the US; we need our own answerability for peace.
Instead of a “NATO Rapid Reaction Force” on the eastern borders, we need more tourism, youth exchanges, and steps toward peace with our neighbors to the east.
We need a peaceful Germany in a peaceful Europe.
May our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, remember us this way.
Because we know all too well what war means, we raise our voice against the war; we raise our voice for peace.
Armeegeneral a.D. Heinz Keßler
Admiral a.D. Theodor Hoffmann
Die Generaloberste a.D. Horst Stechbarth; Fritz Streletz; Fritz Peter
Die Generalleutnante a.D. Klaus Baarß; Ulrich Bethmann; Max Butzlaff; Manfred Gehmert; Manfred Grätz; Wolfgang Kaiser; Gerhard Kunze; Gerhard Link; Wolfgang Neidhardt; Walter Paduch; Werner Rothe; Artur Seefeldt; Horst Skerra; Wolfgang Steger; Horst Sylla; Ehrenfried Ullmann; Alfred Vogel; Manfred Volland; Horst Zander