The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), sharply criticized the left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht and the women's rights activist Alice Schwarzer after the rally in Berlin. “The problem is not the demonstration as such, after all we live in a free country. The worrying thing is that the organizers are teaming up with the radical right and left and stylizing the victim as the perpetrator," Strack-Zimmermann told the Rheinische Post.
Black people, who have fought for women's rights all their lives, mocked thousands of raped Ukrainian women with their words, said Strack-Zimmermann. "Mrs. Wagenknecht seriously believes that she is an icon of a new peace movement. She uses Putin's language. How cynical.”
Criticism of Wagenknecht came again from his own party. "Our fears have been confirmed: Anyone who starts a call that is suitable for a cross-front reaps a cross-front," said the vice-chairman of the left, Katina Schubert, of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (Monday edition). She also criticized Wagenknecht for the lack of solidarity with Ukraine and for playing down Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The perpetrator-victim reversal ran through the speeches as far as I followed them," said Schubert.
According to the police, 13,000 people followed a call by Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer to a rally under the motto "Uprising for Peace" in Berlin on Saturday, the organizers spoke of 50,000 visitors. The left-wing politician and the women's rights activist wanted to underpin their demands from their controversial "Manifesto for Peace". Criticism of Wagenknecht and Schwarzer had previously been expressed by the left boss Janine Wissler and Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens).
At the rally, Wagenknecht again called for a stop to arms deliveries to Ukraine, which had been attacked by Russia, and called for negotiations. It's about "ending the terrible suffering and dying in Ukraine," said Wagenknecht. At the same time, it is about making an offer to negotiate with Russia, “instead of munitions an endless war of attrition with ever new weapons”. It is important to avert the risk of the war spreading to all of Europe and possibly the world. This risk is "damn big".
Wagenknecht also sharply criticized the course of the federal government. One does not feel represented by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), “who initially always hesitates and promotes thoughtfulness and caution, but then regularly buckles in front of the war drummers in his coalition and crosses one red line after the next”.
"Today, politicians in our country, which owes its reunification to (Mikhail) Gorbachev, want to ruin Russia," said Wagenknecht, referring to the former Soviet president. "We don't want German tanks to shoot at the great-grandchildren of those Russian men and women whose great-grandparents were actually brutally murdered millions of times by the Wehrmacht." That was forgotten about history, she said, referring to the Second World War.
Wagenknecht called it a cynical policy when, for example, the US signed contracts to ammunition “the war machine” for many years. "Solidarity means working for peace and not for war." You don't need tanks for that, but diplomacy, negotiations and a willingness to compromise on both sides. Of course, Russia's President Vladimir Putin must also be willing to make compromises. "Ukraine must not become a Russian protectorate." According to reports, earlier negotiations "obviously did not fail on the Russian side."
At the rally at the Brandenburg Gate, the left-wing politician called for a "start signal for a new, strong peace movement". In the face of criticism of possible participants from the right-wing spectrum, she said that neo-Nazis and Reich citizens naturally had no place at the peace rally.
On stage, women's rights activist Schwarzer called it "quite right to stand by the side of the Ukrainians who were brutally attacked by Russia with weapons - initially to defend themselves". Therefore it is now right "after a year of death and devastation to ask about the goal of this war and its proportionality."
Former General Erich Vad called for "an end to the war rhetoric in Germany", an end to the military escalation and the early start of negotiations. "It is naïve to believe that Russia can be defeated militarily without a nuclear war." The war of aggression triggered by Russia, which violates international law, has become a "war of attrition" after a year - this means that there is no longer a reasonable military solution.
The website for the Uprising for Peace rally called on participants to refrain from party and national flags. "Far-right flags, emblems and symbols have no place at our rally," it said. The restrictions imposed by the assembly authority also include wearing military uniforms and insignia, showing the letters Z and V and "other war-glorifying symbolism" and "using Russian and Soviet military flags," said the Berlin police on Saturday on Twitter with.
According to party information, numerous members of the AfD were present at the Berlin rally. The AfD state chairman from Saxony, Jörg Urban, also came to the event at the Brandenburg Gate, the federal party wrote on Twitter on Saturday. She also posted a photo of Urban holding a sign with a dove of peace. "One year after the beginning of the war, we finally need serious efforts for peace negotiations instead of even more escalation!" wrote the AfD with a view to the Ukraine war. It is alarming that people who work for peace are now being discredited and called traitors.
Photos on social media also showed that people from the extreme right spectrum took part in the rally, such as the convicted Holocaust denier Nikolai Nerling.
According to a spokesman, the police had no knowledge of right-wing extremists on site. On Saturday after the end of the rally, a spokesman could only confirm at the request of the dpa news agency that people from the right-wing spectrum had mixed among the participants.
Eyewitnesses saw several supporters of right-wing groups during the rally. The police reported that a group of left-wing counter-demonstrators had a loud argument with the publisher of the "Compact Magazine", Jürgen Elsässer. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies the magazine as a proven right-wing extremist effort.
Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) were compared to Adolf Hitler on a dummy tank at the demo.
Saturday's event was larger than the day before, when more than 10,000 people demonstrated in Berlin against the war and demanded support for Ukraine.
For negotiations, Russia is demanding, among other things, an end to Western arms deliveries and the cessation of hostilities. Probably the most important thing, however, is the recognition as Russian of the Ukrainian territories annexed by Russia in violation of international law. In effect, that would mean that Ukraine would have to give up at least a fifth of its own territory - that much is currently occupied by Russia's army.
Ukrainians keep pointing out that a supposed peace under these conditions would mean the end of their country's sovereignty. Kiev therefore requires the complete withdrawal of Russia's troops for peace talks, as well as reparations payments and the legal prosecution of those responsible for the war of aggression in Moscow. However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has ruled out negotiations under a Russian President Putin per se.
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