• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base

From left, Bonnie Urfer, Steve Baggarly, Susan Crane, John LaForge all of the US, and Gerd Buentzly of Germany, entered Büchel Air Base in Germany to challenge U.S. nuclear weapons deployment. (Photo by Ralph Hutchison)

BÜCHEL, Germany 

The fairy tale that nuclear weapons provide state security is a fiction believed by millions. On July 17, five of us proved that state guarantees of “highly secure” nuclear weapon facilities are just as fictitious.

After nightfall, an international group of five peace activists, me included, got deep inside the Büchel Air Base here, and for the first time in a 21-year long series of protests against its deployment of US nuclear bombs, we occupied the top of one of the large bunkers potentially used for storing nuclear weapons. The US still deploys up to 20 B61 gravity bombs at the air base and German pilots train to use them in war from their Tornado jet fighter bombers.

After hiking along shadowy farm roads, shushing through a dark row of tall corn, clipping through the base’s outer fence, crossing a brightly lit air base road, and tramping noisily through a few wooded brambles, our small group cut through a second chain-link fence, bumbled past a giant hanger and under the wing of a jet fighter bomber, and reached a double-fence surrounding the broad, earth- bermed bunkers. After cutting through the two non-electrified fences without tripping a single alarm or even having the lights snap on, the five of us scurried up to the top of the wide-topped, grass covered concrete Quonset hut. No motion detector or alarm, no Klieg light or guard had noted our intrusion at all. We spent over an hour chatting, star gazing, checking our radiation monitor, and enjoying being flabbergasted that our implausible plan and Google-earth route had worked. This was supposedly a severely controlled H-bomb storage depot, but we’ll never know. We didn’t try breaking into it.

It started getting cold around 1 a.m. and we’d come prepared weeks or months in jail, but not for being outside all night. So Steve Baggarly, 52, of the Norfolk, Virginia Catholic Worker, and I climbed down to scratch “DISARM NOW” on the bunker’s giant metal doors, finally alerting some guards. The two of us hustled back up to the others on top and were soon surrounded by vehicles’ scanning spot lights and guards searching on foot with flashlights. Rather comically, we were still unnoticed as we watched the patrols scurry around. We ultimately decided to announce our presence by singing “The Vine & Fig Tree,” prompting them for the first time to look up. We were taken into custody over two hours after entering the base, and after being searched, photographed and briefly lectured, we were released without charges. Some may be pending.

The five, Baggarly, Susan Crane, 73, of California, Bonnie Urfer, 65, of Wisconsin, Gerd Buentzly, 67, of Germany, and I, said in a prepared statement, “We are nonviolent and have entered Büchel Air Base to denounce the nuclear weapons deployed here. We ask Germany to either disarm the weapons or send them back to the United States for disarming….”

Our bunker occupation, called a “go-in” action by German anti-nuclear campaigners here, was the fourth act of civil resistance during “international week” at the base. Organized by “Non-violent Action to Abolish Nukes” (GAAA), the week saw over 60 people — from Russia, China, Mexico, Germany, Britain, the US, The Netherlands, France and Belgium — participate. The 7-day effort was part of a 20-week-long set of actions — “20 Weeks for 20 Bombs” — launched on March 26, 2017 — in conjunction with the start of final negotiations at the UN for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — by a 50-group nation-wide coalition called “Büchel is Everywhere!”

Two earlier protest actions succeeded in a couple of ‘firsts’: an unprecedented meeting between blockaders and the base commander and the removal of the otherwise very prominent United States flag. During an early morning blockade, “Oberstleutnant” Gregor Schlemmer personally approached protesters — something unheard of in similar US protests — and accepted a copy of the newly-minted UN Treaty Ban from Sister Ardeth Platte, OP, of Baltimore, Maryland. A day earlier, when over 35 activists streamed through the main gate which was mistakenly left unlocked, spontaneously lowered the US flag, and placed loaves of bread around the memorialized jet bombers, Sr. Platte and Sr. Carol Gilbert, OP, also of Baltimore, demanded a meeting with Mr. Schlemmer so they could deliver the treaty. The next day’s shocking appearance prompted a joke: “Yesterday we took down the flag, and today the commander surrendered.”

Eleven activists from the United States came to Büchel to put a spotlight on US plans to replace the B61s instead of removing them. Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in Tennessee — where a new thermonuclear core for the “B61-Model12” might be manufactured — said, “It is important that we show this is a global movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one country.” The new “B61-12” program will cost over $12 billion, if and when production starts sometime after 2020, and “Bushel is scheduled to get new hydrogen bombs. Nothing could be stupider when 90% of Germans want them out and the when world wants to abolish nuclear weapons,” he said.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
Jonathan Cook
Israel Prepares to Turn Bedouin Citizens into Refugees in Their Own Country
Stan Cox
Healing the Rift Between Political Reality and Ecological Reality
Jeff Klein
Syria, the Kurds, Turkey and the U.S.: Why Progressives Should Not Support a New Imperial Partition in the Middle East
George Ochenski
The Governor, the Mining Company and the Future of a Montana Wilderness
Charles Pierson
Bret Stephens’ American Fantasy
Ted Rall
The First Thing We Do, Let’s Fire All the Cops
Jon Rynn
Saving the Green New Deal
Ajamu Baraka
Syria: Exposing Western Radical Collaboration with Imperialism
Binoy Kampmark
A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Down Side of Impeachment
Harvey Wasserman
What Really Happened to American Socialism?
Tom Engelhardt
American Brexit
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail