By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, December 14, 2022
Berlin antiwar activist Heinrich Buecker is facing a fine or up to three years in prison for making a public speech against Germany’s support for the war in Ukraine.
Here is a video on Youtube of the speech in German. A transcript translated to English and provided by Buecker is below.
Buecker has posted about this on his blog here. He has written: “According to a letter from the Berlin State Criminal Police Office dated October 19, 2022, a Berlin lawyer has accused me of having committed a crime. One [It?] refers to the § 140 StGB „Reward and approval of criminal offenses“. This can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years or with a fine.”
Here’s a robot translation of the law:
Rewarding and endorsing crimes
Any person who: one of the unlawful acts referred to in § 138 (1) numbers 2 to 4 and 5 last alternative or in § 126 (1) or an unlawful act under § 176 (1) or under §§ 176c and 176d
1.rewarded after it has been committed or attempted in a criminal manner, or
2.in a manner that is likely to disturb the public peace, publicly, in a meeting or by disseminating content (§ 11 paragraph 3),
shall be punishable by imprisonment not exceeding three years or by a fine.
Whether a “Berlin lawyer” accusing you of a crime results in a criminal prosecution is unclear, but apparently it does result in a long-delayed letter from the police and a formal investigation into a crime. And it very clearly should not.
Heinrich has been a friend and ally and active off-and-on with World BEYOND War and other peace groups for years. I’ve disagreed with him quite a bit. As I recall, he wanted President Donald Trump heralded as a peacemaker, and I wanted a mixed review noting Trump’s good, bad, and hideously awful points. I’ve tended to find Heinrich’s positions overly simplistic. He has a great deal to say about the wrongs of the U.S., Germany, and NATO, pretty much all of it accurate and important in my opinion, and never a harsh word for Russia, which seems an inexcusable omission in my opinion. But what does my opinion have to do with prosecuting someone for talking? What does Heinrich Buecker’s opinion have to do with prosecuting him for talking? It should have nothing whatsover to do with it. There’s no screaming fire in a crowded theater here. There’s no instigating or even advocating violence. There’s no revealing of precious government secrets. There’s no slander. There’s nothing but an opinion that someone dislikes.
Heinrich accuses Germany of a Nazi past. That’s a touchy subject everywhere, including in the United States, as the New York Times mentioned yesterday, but in Germany it’s denial of the Nazi past that can get you prosecuted for a crime (or fired if you’re the ambassador from Ukraine), not recognition of it.
Heinrich, however, discusses the Nazis currently active within the Ukrainian military. Are there fewer of them than he thinks? Are their demands less decisive than he imagines? Who cares! What if they didn’t exist at all? Or what if they have determined this entire disaster by blocking Zelensky’s early efforts toward peace and putting him effectively under their command? Who cares! It’s not relevant to prosecuting someone for speaking.
Since 1976, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has required of its parties that “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.” But not a single nation on Earth has complied with that. The prisons have never been emptied out to make room for the media executives. In fact, whistleblowers are imprisoned for revealing war lies. And Buecker is in trouble, not for propaganda for war but for speaking against propaganda for war.
The problem is, no doubt, that in war thinking, any opposition to one side of a war equals support for the other side, and it’s only the other side that has any propaganda. This is how Russia views opposition to Russian warmaking, and it’s how many in the United States view opposition to U.S. or Ukrainian warmaking. But I can write this in the United States and not risk prison, at least as long as I stay out of Ukraine or Germany.
One of many points on which I disagree with Heinrich is on how much he blames Germany for the world’s ills; I blame the United States more. But I credit the United States with not being so awful as to charge me with a crime for saying that.
Will Germany be investigating Angela Merkel too? Or its former Navy Chief who had to resign?
What is Germany afraid of?
Translated Speech Transcript:
June 22, 1941 – We will not forget! Soviet Memorial Berlin – Heiner Bücker, Coop Anti-War Café
The German-Soviet War began 81 years ago on June 22, 1941 with the so-called Operation Barbarossa. A war of plunder and annihilation against the USSR of unimaginable cruelty. In the Russian Federation, the war against Germany is called the Great Patriotic War.
By the time Germany surrendered in May 1945, around 27 million citizens of the Soviet Union had died, the majority of them civilians. Just for comparison: Germany lost less than 6,350,000 million people, 5,180,000 of them soldiers. It was a war which, as fascist Germany declared, was directed against Jewish Bolshevism and the Slavic subhumans.
Today, 81 years after this historic date of the fascist attack on the Soviet Union, Germany’s leading circles again supported the same radical right-wing and Russophobic groups in Ukraine with which we cooperated during World War II. This time against Russia.
I would like to show the extent of hypocrisy and lies being practiced by the German media and politicians when propagating an even stronger armament of Ukraine and the completely unrealistic demand that Ukraine must win the war against Russia, or at least that Ukraine should be allowed to do so not lose this war – while more and more sanctions packages are passed against Russia.
The right-wing regime installed in Ukraine in a coup in spring 2014 worked intensively to spread a fascist ideology in Ukraine. The hatred against everything Russian was constantly nurtured and has increased more and more.
Worship of far-right movements and their leaders who collaborated with the German fascists in WWII has increased immensely. For example, for the paramilitary organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which helped the German fascists murder thousands upon thousands of Jews, and for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which murdered tens of thousands of Jews and other minorities. Incidentally, the pogroms were also directed against ethnic Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and pro-Soviet civilians.
A total of 1.5 million, a quarter of all Jews murdered in the Holocaust, came from Ukraine. They were pursued, hunted down and brutally murdered by German fascists and their Ukrainian helpers and accomplices.
Since 2014, since the coup, monuments to Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators have been erected at an amazing rate. There are now hundreds of monuments, squares and streets honoring Nazi collaborators. More than in any other country in Europe.
One of the most important people worshiped in Ukraine is Stepan Bandera. Bandera, murdered in Munich in 1959, was a far-right politician and Nazi collaborator who led a faction of the OUN.
In 2016, a Kiev boulevard was named after Bandera. Especially obscene because this road leads to Babi Yar, the gorge on the outskirts of Kyiv where German Nazis, with the support of Ukrainian collaborators, murdered well over 30,000 Jews in two days in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust.
Numerous cities also have memorials to Roman Shukhevych, another important Nazi collaborator who commanded the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews and Poles. Dozens of streets have been named after him.
Another important person revered by the fascists is Jaroslav Stezko, who in 1941 wrote the so-called Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and welcomed the German Wehrmacht. Stezko assured in letters to Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco that his new state was part of Hitler’s New Order in Europe. He also declared: “Moscow and the Jews are the biggest enemies of Ukraine.” Shortly before the Nazi invasion, Stetsko (the OUN-B leader) assured Stepan Bandera: “We will organize a Ukrainian militia that will help us, the Remove Jews.”
He kept his word – the German occupation of Ukraine was accompanied by terrible pogroms and war crimes, in which the OUN nationalists played a leading role in some cases.
After the war, Stezko lived in Munich until his death, from where he maintained contacts with many remnants of nationalist or fascist organizations such as Chiang Kai-shek’s Taiwan, Franco-Spain, and Croatia. He became a member of the Presidency of the World Anti-Communist League.
There is also a plaque commemorating Taras Bulba-Borovets, the Nazi-appointed leader of a militia that carried out numerous pogroms and murdered many Jews. And there are a number of other monuments to him. After the war, like many Nazi collaborators, he settled in Canada, where he ran a Ukrainian-language newspaper. There are many supporters of Bandera’s Nazi ideology in Canadian politics.
There is also a memorial complex and museum for Andryi Melnyk, co-founder of the OUN, who also worked closely with the Wehrmacht. The German invasion of Ukraine in 1941 was marked with banners and proclamations such as “Honour Hitler! Glory to Melnyk!”. After the war he lived in Luxembourg and was a fixture in Ukrainian diaspora organizations.
Now in 2022, his namesake Andryi Melnyk, Ambassador of Ukraine in Germany, is constantly demanding more heavy weapons. Melnyk is a fervent admirer of Bandera, laying flowers at his grave in Munich and even proudly documenting it on Twitter. Many Ukrainians also live in Munich and regularly gather at Bandera’s grave.
All of these are just a few samples of Ukraine’s fascist legacy. People in Israel are aware of this and, perhaps for that reason, do not support the massive anti-Russian sanctions.
The President of Ukraine Selinsky is courted in Germany and welcomed in the Bundestag. His ambassador Melnyk is a frequent guest on German talk shows and news programs. How close the ties are between the Jewish President Zelensky and the fascist Azov regiment was shown, for example, when Zelensky allowed right-wing Azov fighters to have their say in a video appearance in front of the Greek parliament. In Greece, most parties opposed this affront.
Certainly not all Ukrainians revere these inhuman fascist role models, but their followers are in large numbers in the Ukrainian army, police authorities, the secret service and in politics. Well over 10,000 Russian-speaking people have lost their lives in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region since 2014 because of this hatred of Russians incited by the government in Kyiv. And now, in the last few weeks, the attacks against Donetsk in the Donbass have once again massively increased. There are hundreds dead and seriously injured.
It is incomprehensible to me that German politics is again supporting the same Russophobic ideologies on the basis of which the German Reich found willing helpers in 1941, with whom they cooperated closely and murdered together.
All decent Germans should reject any cooperation with these forces in Ukraine against the background of German history, the history of millions of murdered Jews and millions upon millions of murdered Soviet citizens in WWII. We must also vehemently reject the war rhetoric emanating from these forces in Ukraine. We Germans must never again be involved in a war against Russia in any way.
We must unite and stand together against this madness.
We must openly and honestly try to understand the Russian reasons for the special military operation in Ukraine and why the vast majority of people in Russia support their government and president in it.
Personally, I want to and can understand the viewpoint in Russia and that of Russian President Vladimir Putin very well.
I have no distrust of Russia, because the renunciation of revenge against Germans and Germany has determined Soviet and later Russian policy since 1945.
The people of Russia, at least not too long ago, didn’t harbor any grudges against us, even though almost every family has a war death to mourn. Until recently, people in Russia could differentiate between fascists and the German population. But what is happening now?
All friendly relationships that have been built up with great effort are now in danger of being broken off, even potentially destroyed.
Russians want to live undisturbed in their country and with other peoples – without being constantly threatened by Western states, neither through the incessant military build-up of NATO in front of Russia’s borders, nor indirectly through the underhand construction of an anti-Russian state in Ukraine using exploitation historical nationalist fallacies.
On the one hand, it is about the painful and shameful memory of the outrageous and cruel war of annihilation that fascist Germany inflicted on the entire Soviet Union – especially the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian republics.
On the other hand, the honorable commemoration of the liberation of Europe and Germany from fascism, which we owe to the people of the USSR, including the resulting obligation to stand up for a prosperous, reasonable and peaceful neighborhood with Russia in Europe. I associate this with understanding Russia and making this understanding of Russia (again) politically effective.
Vladimir Putin’s family survived the siege of Leningrad, which lasted 900 days from September 1941 and cost almost 1 million lives, most of whom starved to death. Putin’s mother, believed dead, had already been taken away when the injured father, who returned home, is said to have noticed that his wife was still breathing. He then saved her from being taken away to a mass grave.
We must understand and commemorate all this today, and also bow with great respect to the Soviet people.