As missile debate simmers, a German group plans a bunker
Ungstein, West Germany
Robert Jung is building a second home for his family. He just hopes they never will have to use it. Mr. Jung is a member of Weiterfuhrender Selbstschutz Verein (Club for Further Measures of Self-Protection). While tens of thousands march in the streets of West Germany to protest the presence of nuclear weapons, much smaller numbers - like the 40 in Jung's club - react to the nuclear threat in a much different way: They make plans to survive.Skip to next paragraph
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''The people think it is chic to be a member of Greenpeace and Amnesty International,'' Jung says. ''They go and tell their friends, to make an impression, but they do no work. We make it clear in our speeches that this is work.'' The club's work is the construction of a shelter deep inside a mountain. Tentative plans are for a shelter that would accommodate 3,000 people, providing for all of their basic needs and protection from all types of hostility for several years.
Jung, a railroad engineer, is a believer in bunkers. ''My parents built a shelter in the last war,'' he recalls. ''My mother, brother, two neighboring families, and a few Russian prisoners used it - about 20 people. It saved our lives.'' Jung has been concerned about the possibility of another war. ''I knew the government program for protection was not adequate for a big catastrophe,'' he says.
Then one evening he and his wife attended a lecture in their hometown of Hassloch. The speaker was Karl Rohner, architect for the city of Freinsheim. By day, he supervises reconstruction of historic structures and gives advice to village residents who are putting up new buildings. But on evenings and weekends , Mr. Rohner works devotedly on the shelter project. The biggest part of that these days is spreading the Weiterfuhrender Selbstschutz message, and that is not an easy job.
''People don't like to hear this,'' Rohner says. ''Many people want to be jolly and refuse to face their responsibilities; they flee into festivals.''
Rohner has given his series of three lectures several times over the last three years, speaking in about 20 cities and villages in southwestern West Germany.
''This was the first time,'' Jung recalls, ''that someone came and showed a way to withstand this type of war.''
Not surprisingly, the idea of bunkering in for nuclear (or biological or chemical) war is an emotional one. Many who hear Rohner's speeches reject the idea out of hand, because it is such an unpleasant topic. Others object on grounds of cost. The shelter builders are in a distinct minority in West Germany today. The peace movement has aimed some of its indignation at the concept, with banners like ''Who is building shelters is thinking of war,'' and ''Who is building shelters also throws bombs.''
Even Rohner's family is divided over the issue. His wife, Eva, isn't involved in club business. ''She does not like to think of defending the shelter,'' he says, noting that it might be necessary to shoot any nonmembers attempting to storm the shelter as members are entering. ''She also does not like to think of what will be necessary afterwards.'' The couple's only child, Ellen, 25, is even more ideologically at odds with Mr. Rohner. Ellen is not a member of the radical Green party, but she considers her views similar to the Greens.
''I think he is crazy,'' says Ellen, a student in West Berlin. ''I think we must try to do something to prevent war, not dig bunkers and try to survive it.''
Jung's family is more in agreement. Jung's wife attended the Rohner speech with him and also favored joining the club. Then they showed their children, ages 15, 10, and 9, the club's plans.
''We explained everything when asked,'' Jung says. ''Their reaction was that they were very astonished that other parents do nothing for their children.''
Rohner's message is stark and jolting. He speaks of another war - not as a possibility, but as nearly inevitable. While many of his countrymen are protesting the United States deployment of Pershing II missiles in West Germany, Rohner does not look on the Pershings as a particular threat to peace. What he sees as a threat are various changes in the world that he believes will make conflict more likely. Among these:
* The emergence of new superpowers. Rohner feels Communist China is on the verge of arriving at superpower status with the US and Soviet Union. Rohner also considers Brazil capable of reaching that status by virtue of its population and resources, and he regards a union of Europe under one government as possible. Such a European union would have superpower status.