West German scorecard: establishment 3, counterculture 0

West Germany's counterculture of environmentalists and antinuclear activists has been handed its third defeat within a half year. The first was the stationing of NATO Pershing II missiles in West Germany that began last December - despite the mobilization of some 1 million peace protesters last October.

The second was the rather furtive but successful inauguration of Frankfurt Airport's new runway April 12 - after 21/2 years of battles between police and thousands of demonstrators.

The third was the Dusseldorf Appeals Court rejection in late March and mid-April of injunctions against further construction of the Kalkar fast breeder nuclear power plant - after seven years of litigation.

The peace movement will resume its actions with Easter marches at the end of April. But politically it has no more hope of blocking Euromissile deployments.

For their part, Startbahn West opponents who tried to prevent the bulldozing of 247 acres of Frankfurt suburban woods for a new runway had a last fling with various demonstrations over the weekend. But the heart appears to have gone out of the fight, and the different groups of opponents couldn't even agree on a common protest. (Thousands of protesters attempted to storm the runway Saturday but were turned back by water cannons.) As the counterculture newspaper Tageszeitung lamented, ''The antirunway movement is demonstrating one thing above all else at the inauguration: its own dismemberment.''

Antinuclear power protesters are not that bad off. They will continue to file suits and mount demonstrations at various nuclear power construction sites.

But the long-drawn-out court appeals for injunctions on grounds of safety - which blocked new starts on nuclear plants from the mid-'70s until last year - have now lost their effectiveness. With the recent court approvals of building resumption and with the ''convey licensing system'' approved by Parliament in 1982 - under which any type of nuclear plant licensed in one West German state will automatically be approved in any other state - the moratorium on nuclear building is ending.

Paradoxically, these defeats come at a time when the counterculture has achieved a political voice that was undreamed of five years ago - in the representation of the new Green Party in the federal Bundestag and in 6 of the 11 state legislatures.

It's cold comfort to the environmentalists and peace activists that they have sensitized the established parties to ecological and nuclear issues and have compelled downward revision of nuclear power plans - and that they made the Frankfurt Airport authorities forgo any ceremonies to avoid confrontation.

The protesters might stage their own caustic cabaret dedication of the Frankfurt runway. But their irony couldn't block the 225 million deutsche mark ( completion of the present backlog of half-built nuclear power plants.

In Bonn, the Green Party called April 12 - the date of both the court's green light for the fast breeder and the opening of Frankfurt's third runway - a ''black day for nature and democracy.'' The Green Party saw the runway's opening as a challenge to all citizens ''not to allow any such insane projects in the future.''

At time of writing, Reuters reported 13 protesters, including two Danish and one Austrian citizen, were arrested, and 39 taken into custody Saturday after riot police tried to stop masked demonstrators ramming a concrete wall around runway with tree trunks.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to West German scorecard: establishment 3, counterculture 0
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today