East Germany's smiles for peace activists fade quickly
Bonn — Last Monday a laughing Erich Honecker, East German state and party chief, cordially received eight peace-movement ''Greens'' from West Germany. On Wednesday Lutheran Bishop Gottfried Forck of (East) Berlin-Brandenburg met with the East German state secretary for religious affairs to discuss a discreet presentation of peace petitions to the American and Soviet embassies in East Berlin.
On Thursday police suddenly jailed 30 East German peace activists and put several others under house arrest.
On Friday East German officials expelled as ''undesirable persons'' two West German Greens who had come to meet with some 50 East German counterparts to deliver the peace petitions. Hundreds more East German peace activists were ''preventively'' jailed or put under house arrest, according to activists who had themselves spent a night or two in jail.
On Sunday police patrolled the East Berlin embassy district, checking the ID cards of passers-by. And Bishop Forck told his congregation the government had made a ''mistake'' in not letting the peace petitions be delivered.
This was the week that was for East German peace activists trying to wend their way through the alternating smiles and threats of their government.
It was not an auspicious opening for the Nov. 6-16 annual ''peace week'' in Lutheran churches in both East and West Germany. But it reflected the East German government's dilemma as it tries to encourage the West German peace movement while discouraging its East German equivalent.
East Berlin finds the West German peace movement attractive because its main fire is directed at NATO missiles - but finds it prickly because it also opposes the intermediate-range SS-20s the Soviet Union has already deployed.
Conversely, East Berlin finds the East German peace movement unattractive because its main aim is securing a right of conscientious objection to conscription - and its opposition to nuclear weapons is generalized rather than directed exclusively at Western missiles.
The same dilemma was reflected in the East German invitation to West German rock star Udo Lindenberg to sing in East Berlin at the end of October. Lindenberg, who had tried for eight years to get an East German tour, vented his exasperation some months back by writing a song (to the tune of ''Chattanooga Choo-Choo'') casting Honecker as a closet rocker. The song became an immediate not-so-secret hit in East Germany.
Lindenberg suddenly received an invitation to participate in a grand official peace evening in East Berlin last month. He accepted - and was the one performer of the evening to mention that he was against SS-20s as well as against American Pershings and cruises.
The antinuclear Green Party members of West Germany's parliament who were Honecker's guests early in November found themselves in solitary splendor. Petra Kelly, sporting the emblem ''swords into plowshares,'' presented Honecker with an outsize ''peace treaty.'' The treaty pledged - and Honecker endorsed - mutual nonuse of force and nonportrayal of others as enemies.
It recommended - and here Honecker demurred - unilateral disarmament. But Honecker did say, according to the Greens, he would welcome more draft-age men in the one form of conscientious objection allowed by East Germany - unarmed Army construction units.
All told, Honecker's reception was warm enough for the Greens to contrast their friendly hearing by Soviet and East German officials with their brusque dismissal by American officials.
But the cordial treatment stopped when they tried to share some of the official tolerance with fellow East German peace activists. Detentions of East German peace activists increased three days after the Greens' visit.