Thousands flood Berlin to oppose Ukraine war arms shipments
People attend a demonstration supporting a ‘Manifesto for Peace’ in Berlin, Saturday, Germany, Feb. 25, 2023. | AP

Thousands of people protested in Berlin this weekend to condemn Germany’s supply of arms to Ukraine and call for peace talks to end the year-long war. Organizers claimed that around 50,000 people took part in the protest at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, though police estimated the crowd at 13,000.

The organizers were criticized by some before the protest for supposedly downplaying Ukraine’s right to defend its territory from Russian aggression and failing to distance themselves from political extremists on the far right and far left, where pro-Russia views are common.

One of the organizers, opposition lawmaker Sahra Wagenknecht of The Left party (Die Linke), told protesters there was no place for right-wingers and neo-Nazis at the rally, but anyone else who wanted peace “with an honest heart” was welcome.

The rally also promoted a “peace manifesto” published by organizers a week earlier demanding an end to military exports to Ukraine and calling for negotiations between Kiev and Moscow. About 670,000 Germans had signed the manifesto by Sunday.

Some at the demonstration carried banners with slogans such as “Americans go home”—reflecting a growing anti-U.S. sentiment in Germany. One group of protesters carried the logo of a far-right magazine while others waved Russian flags.

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Protesters jeered whenever speakers mentioned the name of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who has strongly backed the delivery of arms to Ukraine and at one point even suggested that Germany was at war with Russia.

After reports that some right-wing organizations showed up at the rally to explicitly support Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, the primary rally organizer, Sahra Wagenknecht of The Left party, told protesters there was no place for neo-Nazis at the rally, but anyone who wanted peace ‘with an honest heart’ was welcome. | Screenshot via DW TV

Other German leaders were forced to roll back on Baerbock’s comments, insisting that although Germany provided military hardware to Ukraine, the country was not in a direct confrontation with Russia.

One of the protesters, Konstantin Schneider, an academic from Berlin, said he understood that countries in eastern Europe were afraid of Russia.

“Of course [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is an idiot for attacking Ukraine,” he said. “But we still need to find new solutions [to the war] instead of sweepingly saying there’s nothing to negotiate.”

There were several small counter-demonstrations. On Friday, around 10,000 people staged a protest at the same site in support of Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a recent television interview that he does not see a prospect for peace talks at present.

“We need to understand that the Russian president currently accepts only one form of negotiations, which is that [Ukraine] capitulates unconditionally and he achieves all of his aims,” Scholz told public broadcaster ZDF.

Morning Star


Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.