Kernwapensweg – Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free World

The two Catholic Workers Susan Crane (Redwood City, California, left) and Susan van der Hijden (Amsterdam, right) have been sentenced to a 229 and 115 days fine, respectively, for repeatedly entering Büchel Air Base, Germany, advocating for a nuclear-free world.

On May 31, we celebrate with the Feast of Visitation how Mary gives all generations a magnificent manifesto during her visit to Elisabeth.

Around May 31, we walk a Pilgrimage for Freedom from Nuclear Execution from Büchel AFB to the women’s prison 100 km away. (A short diary of our peace walk you find below.) On June 4th, the end of the pilgrimage, both Susan’s went to jail. Together, they hope to use their prison sentences to resonate Mary’s vision, inspire cracks in our fear of the powerful, join other poor women and bear witness for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

 

A good overview in German you can find here: Berliner Mahnwache für das Verbot der Atomwaffen – weltweit!

 

Contact information

Letters to the inmates can be sent to:

Susan Crane or Susan van der Hijden
JVA Rohrbach
Peter-Caesar-Allee 1
55597 Wöllstein
Germany

Prison contact for both Susans in Germany is Chris Danowski, christiane.danowski@web.de, (0049 151 10726612).
For visits please also contact Chris first, see the schedule here.

If you like to contribute to their expenses you can send money to
GAAA – Gewaltfreie Aktion Atomwaffen Abschaffen
GLS Bank, IBAN DE57 4306 0967 8019 1512 00,
BIC: GENODEM1GLS
Betreff: The Susans in JVA Rohrbach

 

"vigil behind bars"
Update July 17
Yesterday Susan and Susan moved to a different wing in the prison, where there is more time being out of the cell and being able to talk to other inmates. Now they can share better about their “vigil behind bars” through showing pictures and newsletters about their cause. They write to us:
“We are asked if we can write about our daily life and the people around. We however feel it distracts from WHY we are in prison. So, if people want to know what prison life is about we suggest that they try to experience it themselves. Every prison is different and so are the people in it. A “simple” go-in at your local NATO base will get you 30 days in German prison. Once you have a prison invitation we are happy to share our knowledge with you. Of course this is not an option for everyone. We are also willing to talk in person to people about prison but we do not want the emphasis on prison life in publications or the internet. We are doing well and meet interesting people, try to speak about nuclear weapons and peace to who wants to listen and continue our CW work if / as we can. We pray, write, read, do exercises and otherwise try to prepare ways to continue our resistance to nuclear weapons during and after our “vigil behand bars”. Thanks to all our supporters for their part in the vigil!”

Update June 27: Report on a prison visit by Elu
Many and very warm greetings from Susan van der Hijden and indirectly also from Susan Crane. As part of yesterday’s vigil, we were eight people from Mainz, Kleve, Herford, Kreuznach, Saarland and Lübtheen (at 31 degrees in the shade) and we were able to carry out our registered visit to the prison. The usual controls are a bit stricter than I am used to elsewhere. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take anything, absolutely nothing, into the visiting room and apparently vice versa. Susan vdH wrote the points she wanted to discuss on her forearm, so we should remember them for our later visits. She was in a good mood.
There was a screen between us that we could reach over and even hug. The screen, surely introduced by Corona, was probably kept simply because of a lack of protests, instead of going back to a rational level of “security”. In addition, you cannot buy sweets or tobacco or coffee from a vending machine, something that would be possible even in high-security prisons. We should protest from the outside about such and other everyday harassment that is important for prisoners. Susan also wants to send us other points that she has noticed. I plan to send a letter to the Ministry of Justice, the prison commissioner of the parliamentary groups and the prison management. That is why I suggest asking all visitors to send me anything that they notice so that we can put together a concentrated load of criticisms of nonsensical measures. The Susans are also interested in getting in touch with lobby groups and organizations for prisoners. I will take care of the Committee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy.
Otherwise, everyday life is just as harsh and boring as in any closed prison I know. They have given us the following tasks:
1. Book list: You can get books, but you have to apply for them and they have to be available to order from a specific online bookstore. Since neither of them knows the exact titles and authors, they would like to have book lists and suggestions from outside so that they can then apply. Then we can order them directly from the bookstore and have it send to them.
2. Stamps: Please also send 1.10 € and 0,70€ stamps (foreign postage). It is best to send 5, 10, 20 and 85 cent stamps (no self-adhesive ones).
3. Both are still happy to receive mail. Unfortunately, they did not receive my colorfully decorated envelope, but apparently only its contents. If we want our letters to remain intact, we should ask them to confirm. Please write the date in the letter.
4. Susan Crane in particular is interested in her message from the Vigil Behind Bars being spread further. We should definitely urge the Bundestag and state parliament members responsible there to visit her. I have already received a rejection from one of them: “As a Bundestag member, she cannot visit criminals because it would be seen as an act of solidarity with the crime.” Lack of civil courage!!! She will get a letter back to that effect as soon as I get home.
Overall, it gave us the satisfaction of having done something meaningful between the two days of the trial.
(Report from Ernst-Ludwig Iskenius)

Update June 26
Liebe Friedensfreund*innen, liebe Atomwaffengegner*innen. anlässlich von zwei Berufungsprozessen am 25. und 27.6.2024 in Koblenz wegen GO IN am 8. Mai 2023 in den Atomwaffenstützpunkt Büchel und dem derzeitigen Gefängnisaufenthalten von Susan Crane (USA) und Susan van der Hijden (Niederlande) die zu 229 Tagessätze bzw. 115 Tagessätze für das gleiche Delikt verurteilt wurden, und diesen Gefängnisaufenthalt als “Mahnwache hinter Gittern” nutzen, finden
am 25.6. von 7.30 Uhr bis 8.30 Uhr eine Mahnwache vor dem Landgericht Koblenz, Karmeliterstrasse 14 anschließend Prozeß
am 26.6. um 12.00 Uhr bis 15.00 Uhr an der JVA Rohrbach, Peter Caesar Allee 1 in 55597 Wöllstein eine Mahnwache
am 27.6. von 7.30 Uhr bis 8.00 Uhr eine Mahnwache vor dem Landgericht Koblenz, Karmeliterstrasse 14 in Koblenz statt.
Bitte überlegt, ob Ihr angesichts der zunehmenden Zuspitzung hin zu einem Atomwaffeneinsatz selbst an einem der Termine teilnehmen wollt oder andere dazu motivieren und mobilisieren könnt.

Update June 19: 1st Statement from Susan and Susan

Vigil behind Bars – For a Disarmed World
JVA Rohrbach June 2024
Here in Rohrbach prison we are awakened by the sounds of doves and other birds, giving the illusion that all is well in the world, until other sounds, keys rattleing, doors being shut, and guards doing the morning body check, bring us back to reality.
We are sitting in a prison cell, 123 km from Büchel Air Force Base, where ~ 20 U.S. nuclear bombs are deployed. At the moment, the runway at Büchel is being rebuilt to accomodate the new F-35 fighter jets that will carry the new B61-12 nuclear bombs that were designed and built in the U.S.
The planning, preparation, possession, deployment, threat or use of these B61-bombs is illegal and criminal. The U.S., Germany and NATO know that each B61 nuclear bomb would inflict unnecessary suffering and casualties on combatants and civilians and induce cancers, keloid growth and leukemia in large numbers, inflict congenital deformities in unborn children and poison food supplies.
“We have no right to obey” says Hannah Arendt.
Although actions might seem futile, we understand that it is our right, duty and responsibility to stand against the planning and preparation for the use of these weapons. They are illegal under the non-proliferation treaty, which both Germany and the U.S. have signed and ratified, and under the The Hague Convention. the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg Charta.
During the international peace camps in Büchel (organised by the GAAA which consists of, among others, IPPNW, ICAN, FOR and DFG-VK; the German war resisters league), we, together with other war resisters, and with the help of many supporters, went onto Büchel Air Force Base to communicate with the military personel about the illegality and immorality of the nuclear bombs. We also wanted to withdraw our consent and complicity to their use.
The judges who sentenced us for these actions, made a decision to follow some laws and ignore others. It is common sense, and we all know, that even the law against trespass can be broken when life is endangered.
The judges and prosecuters, as well as the guards in prison treat us respectfully and politely while at the same time sticking to laws and rules that are unjust and cause suffering. The biggest crime in their eyes is to upset the “order”, even though the order is set up to be criminal.
We wake up every day with determined joy to continue our “vigil behind bars”. A joy constrained by knowing that the other women here have pain, from being separated from their family and children or from constant physical or psychological difficulties or from being locked in a cell all day with nothing to do. We are only able to “vigil behind bars” through the immense support of people making sure our cw houses can continue, people sending us cards and stamps, organizing visits and money for phone calls, remembering us in their prayers, doing presswork and those that continue fighting the death dealing warmakers in the world.
Blessings to you all!
SUSAN CRANE and SUSAN VAN DER HIJDEN

Update June 19: News from Felice in the USA
News about Susan C. today: She is doing very well, although she still hasn’t had a cup of coffee!! She is hopeful the commissary situation will be worked out soon. Prisoners are locked in their cell 22 hours per day, and she and Susan van der Hijden are very glad to be sharing a cell. They continue to learn the ins and outs about how things work at Rohrbach prison.
She clarified that she is able to receive newsletters, if she asks for prior approval of the specific newsletter. Also, a friend in Germany ordered the NY Times for her, but she hasn’t started to receive it yet.
Susan is grateful for all of the mail and all of the support she has been receiving! She said that friends and supporters in Germany can send German stamps for her to use. She is asking that people in the U.S. who write to her include a couple of blank sheets of paper or some postcards that she can use for correspondence (if you can find peace postcards, that would be great!).
She would really like interesting articles to read. She thought if we print them up on just one side of the paper, and write a letter to her on the blank side, that should be able to get to her.
Peace, Felice
And we got the first calls from Susan vdH as well! She also finally had gotten a paper sheet do fill in for ordering books from a bookshop which they then have to pay for from their commissonary money. But funny enough on the top of the form it states “NOT for ordering books” … !

Update June 15: First call from the prison
Susan C was able to call today!  I first got to talk to Susan vdH but she handed over to Susan C as it was her call. (Susan vdH hasn’t been granted telephone calls yet, both not knowing why …) It was so good to hear her voice! After giving a short update about each other we had a little “business meeting” with Susan C asking me for information and giving me tasks. She is lacking english texts, anything to read, so I am working on how to get her/them books. It is difficult, though. Susan C is looking forward to Monday when they both will be able to order from the prison shop for the first time: “And then, Chris, I hopefully will have coffee!” Me:”Whaaat? Are you telling me you didn’t have ANY yet???” Susan C: “Would you have guessed I survive?!” she answered laughing. Anybody who has been with Susan C knows her thirst for coffee in the early morning, right?  ;-))
We also received a couple of letters from both. Susan vdH writes ” … enough complaining. As prisons go, this is a fairly nice one. Big cells, bigger than my room in Amsterdam [and she has the biggest in the house, CD], clean and comfortable. Clothes also plenty and comfortable. Fresh, good food (although more vegetables would be nice), friendly people … Today we asked a guard, Beamte they are called, about something and she too had to sigh and said: Eugh, all those stupid rules!”
They also write about their first Sunday: “We went to an ecumenical church service that was quite nice and simple. The church hall was full!! One of the prisoners played the piano to accompany the songs. She was very good. The priest (?) was also good. He talked about the reading where Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is: to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself. He made it personal by giving examples of how he struggled with these words. The songs were fairly easy and we could both almost sing along.”

Update June 12: Good news:
Both Susans share a cell now!
Beate visited Susan C today. She looked good and was smiling warmly. She is happy about sharing the cell with Susan, but is unhappy with the program the prison offers to the women: almost none. Whereas the men have a full spectrum of courses, the women are even denied to use the soccer field! Both Susans went swimming, though. The prison library has almost no English books. But Beate found a way to send a book to Susan C: She is ripping pages out of a book on Yoga and sends 3-5 pages every day. So far they all were given to Susan C. She also received the printed texts from her court speeches that we send in an envelope. So just try to send printed articles and texts that you want to share. Also the inmates can request to receive newspapers.
The other Susan from Amsterdam had the idea: if you write a letter, maybe on the back copy a song or poem or a quote, e.g. from Thích Nhất Hạnh?
Update June 10:
We can send stamps, but only NOT-self adhesive ones. 0,85€ for inside Germany, 1,10€ for international (any country).
We can NOT send any books. Only way for them is that they order books themselves and pay with their prison account. We do not know yet, how that works. Please do NOT send any money to the prison, but contact Chris.
Update June 07:
They are both well, Susan C. is in a cell alone, Susan vdH shares a cell with a nice, but smoking woman who doesn’t speak German.   In our letters no infomaterial, newsletters, newspapers, magazines or such are allowed, only personal letters. You may include pictures of family members (as we are a big family, right?). They can buy stamps and paper in the prison shop but only every (?) tuesday. If you want to send stamps, please be aware that the self-adhesive stamps are NOT allowed.

 

Susan Crane

Susan is a school teacher, mom, grandma, war tax resister, nonviolent anti-nuclear and anti-war activist, and Catholic Worker. For the past five years, she has lived and worked in Redwood City, California at a Catholic Worker house for the homeless. For the past 48 years Susan has tried to withdraw her consent from the economic and political system that is a death sentence to life on earth. She has done this through war tax resistance and nonviolent direct action. She has been in prison over 6 years for peace actions, including several Plowshares actions, which addressed the dangers, illegality and immorality of nuclear weapons. In 2005 she was part of a walk to Guantanamo prison to bring attention to U.S. use of extrajudicial detention and torture. Susan asks: “What sort of world are we leaving for our grandchildren? Will they have clean and water? Will they have affordable education, housing and medical care? Will they have a chance to live in a world where we value sharing and helping each other, instead of greed, death-dealing and war-making?”
court statements:
– Cochem District court September 29, 2021
Cochem District court January 17, 2022    and Declaration of Anabel L. Dwyer
– Koblenz Regional court September 20, 2022
Constitutional Court, Karlsruhe, March 20, 20233 filed by Attorney Milan Martin
– European Court of Human Rights filed by Attorney Milan Martin

 “As a US citizen, I feel responsible for the nuclear weapons that are created with my tax dollars. I have said, out of conviction and conscience, that we must disarm nuclear weapons here in the US, and that is why it makes sense to get involved with the international community of peacemakers against the US nuclear weapons stationed in Europe.”  The United States spends more than $84,094 on nuclear weapons every minute. Meanwhile, millions of people in the United States face contaminated water and unsafe food, are homeless and suffer from inadequate medical care. These problems, also faced by the poor around the world, could be solved with the resources and money the United States spends on warfare and nuclear weapons.  “My faith teaches me that every child is sacred and that there is no moral justification for killing other people in war, destroying their land, or poisoning their water. Nuclear war does all of this.”

go in actions:
– 5 holes action July 15, 2018, 18 people from 4 countries participated in going onto the base.
Appeal to the Personnel of Büchel Air Force Base from the US Peace Delegation to Germany 2018
– Weapons Inspectors August 6, 2018 John LaForge and I went onto the base and climbed onto a bunker on the edge of the runway, where the U.S. B61 nuclear warheads were probably deployed.
– July 10. 2019
– July 14, 2019
– July 16, 2019
– July 22, 2019
 “The four actions in which I took part in 2019 were an attempt to stop a crime in progress: the criminal planning and preparation of attacks with US nuclear weapons from Büchel Air Base. This unlawful planning and preparation is criminal under international humanitarian laws, treaties and agreements because it violates the Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Germany and the United States are obliged to comply with under their constitutions .”

 

 

Susan van der Hijden

Susan, born 1969, has been living in the Amsterdam Catholic Worker since  1998, with a long break after her participation in the Jubilee Ploughshares 2000 action in England. Besides (helping) organise actions against nuclear weapons, such as the Pink Shovel actions and the Volkel peace camp in August 2023. Susan enjoys knitting, listening to podcasts and drumming in a ‘tactical frivolity’ drum group that plays at actions and demonstrations, lately mainly at climate, anti racism and pro palestine events. Although already demonstrating at Büchel in the early 2000’s, the first actions Susan helped organise and involved going on the nuclear air base were in 2017. The current prison punishment is a result from actions in 2018 and 2019.

Court statement in Cochem dicstrict court 2020:

Honourable Judge, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start with thanking the people that made it possible for me to stand here today. I was part of a group of seventeen people, who together cut and entered the fences of Nuclear airforce base Büchel. The courts decided to only prosecute ten of us. The people who did most of the cutting are not called to come to this court but are here in spirit.
I do not have much faith in the law. The law should protect its citizens but it keeps protecting the weapons, the violence against the poor and the fences surounding nuclear bases such as the ones at Büchel airforce base.
I want to give you reasons to acquit me but you probably cannot. You may be sympathetic to our reasons but unable to escape the law that says that fences are more important than human lives.
I could tell you about the International court of justice saying nuclear weapons are illegal because these weapons cannot distinguish between soldiers and civilians or between civilian and military targets. That nuclear weapons are illegal because they cause unnecessary suffering; the principle of proportionality. Or about theNon Proliferation Treaty, that says that countries are not allowed to share their nuclear weapons with other countries, something that is cleary happening here in Büchel.
I can name more laws and treaties, but in the end the fences are more important than human lives. You asking us to come here despite the fact that there is a pandemic going on is prove of that also.
I can talk about the damage done to people and the enviroment from mining Uranium, or the families I talked to in Kansas City in the USA, who lost loved ones to cancer, who worked making Nuclear weapons. Or  I could mention the amount of money that is spend on these weapons,(and the fences!) the new B61 bombs are more expensive than their weight in gold! that could be used for healthcare and education.
You will tell me you sympathize but that this is not the right way to go about it. That the fence is sacred and shall not be touched. There are other ways to get rid of the nukes. But what are they? We have tried everything as my friend Chris will explain. I wish I could do other things, but do not know what will make those in power listen. It seems time to make the changes we want ourselves. Cutting the fence is the first step.
I appealed because I want to speak up against nukes. Not because I am not guilty. I did what I was accused of and am proud of it and wish I dared or could do more. And I wish you all would do more.
I dont have much faith in the law but I have hope. And I do think its a good thing to have laws. So I came here, despite all the Corona madness, to have you judge my actions. If you really think the fences are more important than human lives you should punish me and I will go to prison without resistance. But I have hope that these small actions of ours will plant seeds for the future, that they will draw attention to these weapons of mass destruction and keep it on the agendas of politicians.

 

 

The peace walk May 30th to June 4th

Day 1: We started the walk with a vigil at the maingate of the Airbase Büchel, where 18 people joined in a circle holding banners.  Susan vdH explained the revolutionary story behind the Magnificat (which actually had been banned in some countries because of it’s demand to take down the rich and support the poor). Susan, Frits and Margriet then successfully glued the posters of a wood cut depicting the Magnificat and posters with a quote from Aaron Bushnell on the road leading to the main gate of the base. Even though the police knew about Susan’s „Hafteinladung“ they decided not to take her. Susan vdH will now stay with group and enter prison together with Suan Crane on June 4th.
On their way down to the river Mosel the group stopped at the Fliegerkaserne Brauheck (barracks) where the headquarters of the commander of the base is located. Both Susans delivered a letter to Commander Mbassa, which they read out loud to vigiling group.
Here you can find Susan vdH’s letter
Here you can find Susan Crane’s letter
After leafletting on the market square of the city Cochem (a place full of tourists) the group arrived at their destination Ernst after having hiked through the beautiful landscape along the river Mosel.

 

Day  2

After a nice breakfast of bread and homemade spreads we left with cars to an old water mill on the other side of the Mosel river. From there the walkers followed local guide Thomas along a little brook through the woods. After a beatiful but muddy walk the group arrived at the famous hanging bridge near Mörsdorf. There we were met by the initiator of the bridge who told us about the history. After some brave souls walked over the bridge we went on to Sosberg to meet the support car and have a much deserved break. After saying goodbye to the support car and two very tired walkers, the rest of the group went on perhaps an even more beautifull stretch of forest roads until we all met again in Kastellaun. In Kastellaun is an old castle on top of a steep hill and in the castle is now a permanent exhibition on the (christian) restistance in the area against the Pershing and cruise missiles in the 80’s.

The curator of the exhibition, Dieter Junker and two very active people from the local anti nuclear movement explained the history of the actions that took place back then. The NATO double-track decision in 1979 and the planned stationing of 96 cruise missiles near Hasselbach mobilized the resistance of many people in the Hunsrück in the 1980s. This protest was also strongly influenced by Christians from both churches, protestant and catholic. They did prayers for peace, put up 96 wooden crosses on a field next to the military base, a cross at the main gate of the stationing area, held convents and vigils of the “Religious for Peace”, organized the women’s world prayer days at the Pydna. August and Uli told us about their fight and hope and left us bewildered why today the peace movement seems to be so old and small.

Next stop was the small village of Bell, home to Jutta Daal who was the first recipient of the Aachner Peace Price. She prepared a nice vegan meal for us. We had a short meeting and then more or less collapsed on our sleeping mats in the local church community house. In the morning we walked to a famous building which depicts the so called Raketen-Kuh / rocket cow – if you see the picture you’ll understand.

 

Day 3 – the day of women’s resistance in the 80ies until now

In Bell we were met and accompanied during the day by Maria and Margit, who have been part of the resistance against the nuclear weapons in this area in the 80ies. They had started a women resistance camp in a tiny village during the time, when the military base was been build to deploy the Cruise Missiles. Women from all over Germany would each year come together during the summer (much like the Büchel peace camp) to camp, live, love and resist. No men were allowed, male children only to the age of 10 years, later 7 years. Women from many political and spiritual directions joined in the camp, trying consus decision making with a couple hundred people, using compost toilets and giving each others short haircuts. It was agreed on that there would be one big action during the camp, but that single groups could do any action they want (without letting everybody know) as long as it didn’t put the whole camp in danger of being evicted or such. Of course they had to guard the camp 24/7 but luckily in eight years nothing very violent happened. They were annoyed by the police showing up to harass them so the made a huge sign “consultation hours for police mo through fr 3:00 to 3:30 pm” – we couldn’t find out if that worked but it sure is a nice idea for a peace camp.

In the end the resistance against the nuclear weapons was success ful (well …) and the Cruise Missiles as well as Pershing II were disarmed. So we got to see the places full of “this used to be”. The former arms base is still used by the German Bundeswehr for exercise but the old concrete wall now is covered with greens. The 5 or more floors deep bunker which had been build as command center is now empty and locked up.

In these days we also get to meet or know about a lot of brave local people. The peace camp was started by an elderly woman from this tiny village who wanted to welcome resistance against all odds. The “Raketen Kuh” is painted on a barn owned by a local farmer, just alongside a busy road. And some of the women from the yearly resistance camp decided to get settled in this very rural but political area and they bought a house and started a living community. And in this very house our tired and cold and wet group were warmly welcomed and could spend the night on cosy beds and matresses.

 

Day 4 – Sunday, but no sun: with bikes from Schlierschied to Bingen

After a great breakfast with organic food we had to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Schlierschied. Today the group swapped their hiking boots with bikes – well most of the people still wore their boots. With some borrowed bikes and three folding bikes and two e-bikes we drove through a beautiful landscape first up the hills and then down to the river Rhein. To the discontent of our guide Hilde it was raining a bit and the view over the mountains was blocked with mist. But still the group enjoyed the ride with a lot of fun: the e-bikers helped the slower people uphill and one biker swapped with a car driver after a while. One biker got lost but luckily was found and rejoined the group before crossing the river with a little ferry.

The 50 km / 35 mi long tour ended in the neat little city Bingen am Rhein. Bingen is the home of famous Hildegard von Bingen, abbess, visionary mystic, composer of the 12th century,  but in Germany most well known for her studies on plants and trees for medical use. On top of the hill above the Rhine is a monastery of the Sisters of the Cross. They are dedicated to the tradition of St. Hildegard, and they also run a pilgrimage hostel and hotel, were we expected to be welcomed. Unfortunately our emails hadn’t been spread so we were told they could only host part of our group.  Four of us went back to the former place and were welcomed again by our host Hilde with food and beds. This all got sorted out the other day when we were treated to coffee and tea and sweets in the morning. We were still happy about a real bed and a warm shower in a warm place.

 

Day 5 – Monday May 3rd

The night before four more people had arrived to join the peace walk, coming from far in the North of Germany by train and bike or from the East with a wheelchair on the train. The group started their last long day of hiking, again through beautiful landscape, leaving the Rhine behind. 22 km / 13,5 mi were filled with laughter and talks, with thoughts of pain and sleep, and with a big longing for ice cream. At one point the group put all their powers together to move a fallen tree that blocked the path to make way for Siri in her electric wheelchair! When finally arriving in the little town Spredlingen, where we would spend the last night sleeping all together in a big room from the city youth work, the dreams of ice cream were so strong that they stopped at the local ice cream place  to eat the best, biggest, sweetest and creamiest ice cream ever  Thank you to to the Nukeresister for treating us to pizza and drinks the night before and now to ice cream after a day of hiking!!!

At the same time the driver of the bus and Susan vdH and me were working on press releases, diaries, photos, websites and last but no least cooking a nice dinner out of scratch, as we tried to use all the left over ingredients we could find in our bags. But Chris managed to sneak into the ice cream group and shared a drink with them.

We were welcomed at our sleeping place by Volker, a local friend of a friend in the peacemovement who not only organized the splace and even paid for it but also took many people to the train the next day. After a lovely dinner we took some time to plan the vigil and practice some songs before finding a place for matress and sleeping bag.

 

Day 6 – June 4th: Going into prison

Rising early, packing things, fast breakfast but with a lot of coffee. And then the last hike of about 1,5 hours to the prison “Justizvollzugsanstalt Rohrbach”. The group got lost though and was a bit late – was that fate? This prison also is one of those lost places, far away from a town or village, set back from a not so busy road, looking odd, plain and hostile. But then our happy and sad group held a vigil with coloufurl banners, songs of peace and justice and listened to each others words.

Susan vdH, Susan C and Gerd Buentzly who will also enter prison in Germany soon

An Easy Essay from Peter Maurin was quoted by Susan Crane:

Some people say:
“My country is always right.”

Some people say:
“My country is always wrong.”

Some people say:
“My country is sometimes right
and sometimes wrong,
but my country
right or wrong.”

To stick up for one’s country
when one’s country is wrong
does not make
the country right.

To stick up for the right
even when the world is wrong
is the only way we know.

 

And instead of receiving our blessing on their way Susan and Susan decided to bless us:

May you be loved and feel loved,
May your support and feel supported,
May you empower and feel empowered
May xou upset the order and feel upset at orders
May you, when we get out, have made the world a tiny bit better then when we go in today!

The whole group then picked up all banners and slowly walked towards the prison door, much to the dislike of the police because we had been told that we weren’t allowed to do so. But hey, did they really expect US to stop at a line, fence or wall that marks evil powers? They obviously didn’t because to our surprise the police just watched, but didn’t stop us and even told the prison guards that they needed to intervene themselves.

First Susan vdH knocked on the prison door. It took the staff of the prison some time to figure out why she was there, but eventually she was asked to enter. Then Susan Crane handed over her papers and also walked through the doors with the cheers of of group in her ears.

We were also greeted by (another) Volker from the local peace group who took pictures and who is going to join the regular vigils in front of the prison the coming months held by our peace activist friends from around this area.

 

 

 

Background information

In the German book Brot und Gessetze brechen – Christlicher Antimilitarismus auf der Anklagebank, by Jakob Frühmann and Cristina Yurena Zerr, you find more about theses and connected actions.

Ordensschwestern, Großmütter, Priester oder Postangestellte, die in Militärbasen einbrechen, um gegen dort stationierte Atombomben zu protestieren und so Veränderungen globaler Gewaltverhältnisse zu fordern. Die Pflugscharbewegung wurde zum Symbol radikal christlicher und gewaltfreier Praxis. So etwa im deut­schen Büchel, wo US­-Atomwaffen gelagert werden, oder in Kings Bay (USA), einer Basis für U­Boote mit nuklearen Sprengköpfen. An beiden Orten fanden 2018 Einbrüche statt, um mittels zivilem Ungehorsam gegen die Gewalt und Autorität des Staates Widerstand zu leisten – die Konsequenz waren Prozesse und mehrjäh­rige Haftstrafen.
Das Buch gibt die bemerkenswerten Abschlussplädoyers der angeklagten Aktivist*innen wieder und versam­melt Beiträge zur Frage von Abrüstung von unten, zur Geschichte christlich-­antimilitaristischen Widerstands und zu blinden Flecken in der Linken. Es liefert in Zeiten zunehmender Aufrüstung Impulse für eine neue Friedensbewegung fernab bürgerlicher Religiosität.

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us" - Dorothy Day

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