Next part Tuesday: NATO bombs Serbian TV channels during operation
It was the SPD and Greens who sent German soldiers into the first aggressive war since 1945 20 years ago. In a diary, JW reminds those responsible and opponents of war in that era. (jw)
In Berlin, on April 19, 1999, the all-renewed Reichstag is solemnly opened with a session of the German Bundestag. The already four weeks lasting international-illegal NATO war against Yugoslavia is bravely defended. President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Thierse (SPD), assesses the move of the government and parliament to the old imperial capital as proof that »the Germans would use the opportunity of unity responsibly for Germany and Europe«. With a view to the NATO bombardment in the Balkans, Thierse welcomed the end of the validity of the “non-interventionist doctrine” under which the people of eastern Germany once suffered. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (also SPD) asserted that the Federal Republic today stands “differently and more intensively in the responsibility for the fate of other peoples”.
In front of the newly opened Reichstag building, former concentration camp prisoners in convict clothes protest against the trivialization of fascism. Kurt Goldstein releases his forearm and shows the tattooed, otherwise invisible prisoner number. “That’s proof that I know what genocide is,” says the 85-year-old. The former political prisoner of the Auschwitz concentration camp recalls with other survivors the 54-year-old oath in Buchenwald: “Building a new world of peace and freedom is our goal.” Never again war and never again fascism on banners.
In an open letter to the deputies of the Bundestag, the former concentration camp inmates demand the end of all fighting in Yugoslavia. The letter states: “With the war in the Balkans, we came from the post-war period into a wartime, without the consequences of the last war were sufficiently eliminated.” Outraged Kurt Goldstein rejects the arguments of many deputies, after the war against Serbia to prevent a genocide. »Fischer, Scharping and Schröder want to dub only their argumentation. This is a trivialization of the crimes of the Hitler regime, “said the anti-fascist resistance fighter.
In contrast to Bundestag President Thierse, the population sees no reason for celebration in the rejection of the non-intervention doctrine. The members of the People’s Solidarity, one of the largest organizations in East Germany, join the Erfurt peace initiative “Mothers against the war” and call for an end to the attacks on Yugoslavia. In the jW interview on April 20, Anita Häusser from the Volkssolidarität in Berlin-Lichtenberg explains the motivation of her members: “Many of the senior citizens who are organized here have often had to experience the horrors and consequences of the Second World War. These people have a very different relationship to the terrible events of the war. (…) When the media often reports that almost all of Germany is behind the federal government and supports this war, for many of our members this is nothing more than the rape of their own opinion on war. (…) The seniors also know that they are not listened to because they are almost completely against this war. The organization of popular solidarity has about 500,000 members in the eastern German states. Half a million war opponents out of conviction and often also from experience, the opinion of the Federal Government, of course, not interested in the present. “
In Pancevo the second time plants of the chemical industry were bombed. Biting smoke makes breathing difficult. The Municipal Information Office advises citizens to leave their homes with only a gas mask or protect their eyes and airways with cloth soaked in bicarbonate. Huge columns of smoke waft into the sky and are easily recognizable from the capital of Belgrade, which is around 15 kilometers away. The on-site visit reveals the whole dimension of the destruction. The Asoterra factory is completely out of service. Toxic vapors pour from broken lines, you can still see the heavy smoke clouds of the also bombed oil refinery. For thirty-seven years, fertilizer for agriculture was produced at the plants, explains Asoterra’s director Miralem Dzindo to representatives of the international press . Since NATO had also bombed other fertilizer factories in the country during the four-week attacks, the supply of basic food to the population would be jeopardized in the medium term. The factory had nothing to do with the military. “No, at no time have chemical weapons components been produced,” Dzindo replies to a journalist’s question.
Yugoslavia’s President Slobodan Milosevic meanwhile asks Moscow for military aid. In an interview with the Russian weekly Sawtra , he describes Russia’s past help as “invaluable.” So far, it was mainly about diplomatic support. “We appreciate the intense diplomatic efforts Russia is undertaking, sometimes accepting the deterioration of its relations with the NATO countries and sacrificing its own positions. But we need not only diplomatic and moral support, but also other aid, primarily military-technical. We want to get them as soon as possible, even before the aggressor has done us an irreparable, no-good damage. We hope for such help because it would be underpinned by law. The UN Charter guarantees victims of aggression such assistance. «
Milosevic continues: “The idea of world domination, which first took root in ancient Rome, later in Paris and Berlin, is now revived in Washington. So I think that the Russians today should not repeat the mistake of Stalin, who until the last moment did not believe that Hitler would invade the Soviet Union. One must be aware at each moment that the US has only one goal: to dominate the world. We are free and will remain so. «
What many in the countries of the aggressors do not want to admit, Milosevic is not alone with this position. On the contrary. The Serbs stand with their target signs as “human shields” on the bridges and squares, defending their land and international law. No matter who you talk to, there is no good word for NATO, and I’m only shaking my head about German involvement in the war. In Belgrade, in Pancevo, in Novi Sad.
In Novi Sad people of more than 20 different nationalities live peacefully together, as an elderly man tells me. Trouble and problems come from above. The army has set up a ferry service across the Danube for the population since NATO bombed two bridges. They were the lifeblood of Vojvodina, they connected the fertile granary in the north of the country with the rest of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug lists nine destroyed industrial plants for Novi Sad by mid-April. They are all purely civil in nature and ensure the food supply of the population.