USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany

Hamburg, Germany

With this week’s commemorations of the US atomic massacres at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there will be countless hours spent on speeches, sermons, hymns, and warnings; tons of ink spilled in op/eds, editorials and articles. All will solemnly promote the need to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. However, many of the same voices will negate their own words by advocating a wait-and-see, what-about-the-other-guy, business-as-usual support of “deterrence.” (Never mind that Navy Secretary, Cold War hawk and Reagan presidential advisor Paul Nitze publicly demolished the rationale for deterrence 21 years ago, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross has since then declared that the direct medical effects of nuclear war are so vast and overwhelming that they cannot be ameliorated.)

One man who’s free of this hypocrisy is Dennis DuVall — a US citizen and resident of Radeberg, Germany, near Nuremberg — who will continue his genuine and consistent opposition to nuclear weapons on August 4, 2020, as a defendant in the dock at Justice Court in Koblenz, Germany.

DuVall, 78, is a US Air Force Veteran of the US War in Vietnam and a longtime member of Veterans for Peace. Last May 11 he was convicted by a lower court of trespassing and property damage at the German airbase Büchel — where about 20 US Air Force hydrogen bombs are maintained and readied for use — and has appealed to the court in Koblenz. Because he has promised the German court authorities he will not pay a fine, DuVall if he is again convicted could be jailed.

DuVall’s court case stems from the much-publicized “go-in” action of July 15, 2018, when 18 people in five groups clipped through the base’s old chain-link fence in five separate places, in broad daylight, and clamored over razor wire to get inside. The nonviolent action was part of the long-running campaign in Germany that demands removal of the remaining US nuclear weapons, cancellation of the US bombs’ planned replacement, and German government ratification of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“Büchel protesters are doing what the nuclear weapons states should have been doing for the last 50 years. We are honoring the words and spirit of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in stimulating ‘good faith’ debate of nuclear weapons leading to nuclear disarmament,” DuVall says in a statement he prepared for court. DuVall is one of at least 93 protesters who currently face charges for “go-in” protests over the last four years at the German/NATO nuclear weapons base.

Büchel protesters contend the 20 US B61 hydrogen bombs (along with the US H-bombs in Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Turkey), violate the two principle articles of the NPT, as well as other binding international humanitarian laws, and that their minor disruptions are justified acts of crime prevention. “Trespassing and damage to a fence are minor offenses that are trivial compared to the threat of nuclear annihilation readied inside the bunkers at Büchel AFB,” DuVall’s court statement says.

DuVall has said he “will refuse to pay a fine for his nonviolent civil resistance,” and that he “expects to be incarcerated ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs.’”

Photo: Denis Duvall is at left in photo wearing mask, during the July 16, 2020 blockade of Büchel air base’s main gate. Photo by John LaForge.

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