An open letter addressed to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, originally signed by 28 German cultural personalities and published on April 29 on the website of the feminist magazine Emma, feeds the discussion in the country.
In it, prominent German signatories – including feminist and journalist Alice Schwarzer, writer Juli Zeh, singer Reinhard Mey, author Alexander Kluge and actor Lars Eidinger – made an urgent appeal to the Chancellor to no longer supplies heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Unlike previous critics who have accused Scholz of being too indecisive on the matter, the letter’s signers praise him for having “so far considered the risks so carefully” and for having done everything to prevent the war in Ukraine to degenerate into a third world war.
The letter was published the day after the German parliament decided on April 28 to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, a vote approved by a large majority.
In the run-up to this, the pressure on the government, both from the public and from the Bundestag, had increased massively.
Canisters full of ballot papers on the vote to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine on April 28, 2022
A battle of opinion on Twitter
Since the publication of the open letter, the debate over the planned arms deliveries has gained momentum, especially in social media.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk Directly Attacked Emma Editor-in-chief Alice Schwarzer on Twitter, calling it “celebrated feminism” a “front” in the face of mass rapes of Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers and accusing it of cynicism.
Alice Schwarzer reacted no less strongly to Melnyk’s criticism in a daily interview Die Welt “It’s pure demagoguery and this ambassador is harming his country,” Schwarzer said. “This is not the first time that the Ukrainian ambassador has made outrageous remarks.
Divided on the decision
The open letter was also criticized by politicians from all parties. For example, Green Party politician Peter Heilrath asked on Twitter whether supporters of the letter would have also advised fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto to give up “in order to avoid unnecessary casualties”.
Konstantin Kuhle, deputy chairman of the Free Democrats parliamentary group in the Bundestag, called the position of the signatories “madness” on Twitter. His party colleague, Marie-Agnès Strack-Zimmermann, wrote that the only possible compromise was the “complete restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Sahra Wagenknecht, member of the Bundestag, remains faithful to the pacifist line of her left-wing party and shares the opinion of the first signatories. On Twitter, Wagenknecht describes the letter as an “important call from artists and intellectuals”, adding that although Scholz’s praise is now outdated following the parliamentary decision to provide arms, the letter’s demands to prevent a third world war are “all the more urgent.”
The German population is divided on the question of whether Germany should supply heavy weapons to Ukraine: 45% are for and as many are against. This is the latest result of a representative survey conducted by infratest dimap for ARD-DeutschlandTrend.
By midday on May 2, more than 155,000 people had signed the open letter, which was posted as a petition on change.org, the global online activism platform.
This text was originally written in German.