The Pankow Peace interpreted peace to include pedagogy, economic development, and environmentalism. Pictured: Ruth Misselwitz, a founder. (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
It was one thing to establish an independent peace group in Poland or Hungary during the last decade of the Communist era. Freedom and Peacechallenged military service in Poland, where there was a long tradition of independent organizing. In Hungary, perhaps the most liberal country in the region outside of Yugoslavia, Dialogus opposed nuclear weapons on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Both groups experienced their share of surveillance and harassment.
But organizing in East Germany was something else. Dissidents were put on trial, thrown in jail, and often kicked out of the country against their will. The Stasi kept a tight watch on everything.
That’s why the story of the Pankow Peace Group is so remarkable. Organized in the Pankow neighborhood of East Berlin in 1981, the group not only took bold positions on nuclear issues but interpreted peace more broadly to include pedagogy, economic development, and environmentalism.