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The Grandess of the Greens

Throughout her political life she has always tried to reconcile.

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The Grandess of the Greens

Throughout her political life she has always tried to reconcile. But at least to convey. In the last years of the Cold War, for example, between West and East. Or between the RAF inmates and the state. Or in the early years of the Greens between the Fundi and Realo wings. But she has now died at the age of 79 unreconciled, in one respect. For years she has publicly quarreled with her party, the Greens. Without being fundamentalist herself, she accused the party of hyperpragmatic realism. The party had betrayed its founding principles.

From the beginning of her political career, it was clear that the Greens would be an existential project for her. No party among others, but almost something like an earthly eschatological project: it was about preventing the atomic apocalypse, saving the planet. And an earthly regiment of peace. There was something missionary about it. Albeit in a different way than Petra Kelly, the founding icon of the Greens. Unlike them, Antje Vollmer definitely had a keen sense of power and power politics, and intrigues were also part of her repertoire.

It was precisely this mixture of redemption pathos and tactical skill in political hand-to-hand combat that made them so unpopular at times. While the Realos secretly made fun of Petra Kelly and her movement pathos early on, they openly hated Antje Vollmer. When she wanted to run for the party executive of the Greens in the late 1980s, the Realos did – successfully – everything to prevent her victory. The slogan issued by a small but important Realo circle was: "Antje bowling!"

Although not yet a member of the Greens, Antje Vollmer was a member of the party's first parliamentary group. She was more serious than others about the idea of ​​the "anti-party party." The Greens should no longer be a party, but a completely different party. A party that would at best use power to tame, contain, or even abolish power.

The peace movement, which was so strong in the 1980s, was of central importance to the trained Protestant theologian, who worked for a few years as a vicar in Wedding in Berlin. Vollmer did not belong to their traditional left wing, which still saw the Soviet Union as a force for peace. She kept equidistance to both blocks. And she believed with all seriousness that it would be possible to animate both sides to disarm by mutual agreement through negotiations.

That is why, before the Wall came down, one question that she would never let go of later played no role at all for her: the German question. This was declared non-existent for them before 1989. Anyone who experienced Antje Vollmer during the months of the collapse of the GDR could feel how existentially this event shook, irritated, but also inspired her. While the leading Realos nonchalantly swept their previous German-political ignorance under the carpet and became unification realists overnight, Antje Vollmer accepted that their previous coordinates were ruined.

Germany became the big topic for her, who was already prone to profundity. This is how she came to deal intensively with the German resistance in the Third Reich and to get involved with the German-Polish meeting place in Kreisau - the place where the "Kreisau Circle" around Helmut James Graf von Moltke and Freya von Moltke met had to advise on a post-Hitler Germany.

Antje Vollmer saw the year 1989 as a great moment: a revolution without bloodshed. And communist regimes that – from Berlin to Moscow – retreated almost voluntarily and gave up. Now anything would be possible. A European peace order worthy of the name. The ban on all nuclear weapons and a perpetual regime of peace. She wrongly saw Gorbachev as a peace hero and failed to acknowledge that he wanted a better socialist Soviet Union.

Just as she, with her political thinking very much concentrated on old Europe, seriously harbored the hope that the centuries of violence in Europe could now finally be over. There must have been a piece of earthly theology involved. After all, it was not really conceivable that after the two great breaks in European civilization of the 20th century - the National Socialist and the Communist - their formative power could be exhausted within a few decades. Violence would remain, and resistance against it would also remain necessary, including military resistance.

The Green Party internalized this insight at the beginning of the Ukraine war in the realpolitik rush-around procedure. However, out of conviction, Antje Vollmer resisted it until the very end. This is also where the alienation from her party came from. This necessarily adapted quickly to the existing political system while retaining rebellious remnants of rhetoric.

Not so Antje Vollmer, she remained stubborn for a long time. For them, the monopoly on the use of force = power = dangerous and alien to peace. Vollmer's dream lacked traction. Just as her almost missionary (and sometimes successful) fight for pardons for RAF prisoners was fueled by mistrust of the state. Basically, it denied the state the right to punish opponents of the political system. She adhered to a humanism that was also quite twisted.

But it was precisely Antje Vollmer's absoluteness that made her a green person of respect, also within the party. In the meantime, they were also respected in their own party. In 1994 she became the first vice-president of the Greens in the German Bundestag and remained so for eleven years, until the end of the red-green coalition in 2005. And in this function she gained a profile that was almost state-supporting. Became something of a grandin with her unmistakable intonation.

Later, Antje Vollmer increasingly quarreled with the course of her party and basically with the entire political constellation. The West missed the Gorbachev moment. Have not resolutely helped to create a new peace order. Russia's anti-Western twist, she insinuated, was only a reaction to Western arrogance - and therefore understandable.

She stiffened in that pose. And rejected - if not in the style of Sahra Wagenknecht's slipper pacifism - Western arms deliveries to Ukraine. This pacifist rigor came at the expense of empathy for the invaded Ukraine. A few weeks before her death, she published a bitter balance sheet that has almost become a life balance sheet: "Legacy of a pacifist. Anything else I have to say.” Should have – not have.

In this resigned article, she stands helpless, albeit with strong faith, before her great dream is shattered. The Greens, she writes, "once held the key to a truly new order of a fairer world." She viciously attacks her party's commitment to arms, and in particular attacks the foreign minister, whom she calls "the shrillest trumpet of the new NATO strategy".

Antje Vollmer took the magic of 1989 extremely seriously. Her reckoning not only with her party is therefore due to a probably excessive disappointment. It should not be forgotten that she did a lot to prevent the breakup of the party, which had been at odds for many years. And that with her thoughtfulness she earned the Greens respect even in middle-class and conservative circles. You can twist it however you want: Antje Vollmer was an energetic, soft-spoken politician. And unique in that.

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