USSR AND WEST GERMANY. Germans say anti-war activism thrives -- but not `peace studies'
Bonn — Despite the active peace movement and the rise of the antinuclear and pro-ecology Green Party in this decade, neither the academic nor the political climate has been hospitable for peace studies in West Germany. No university here has a department or even a program for studying conflict resolution, points out Andreas Zumach, a leading Christian activist in the antinuclear movement of the early 1980s and head of international relations for Action Reconciliation, a Protestant organization that sends volunteers to work in Israel, the United States, and the Auschwitz memorial. The only approximations, he indicates, are ad hoc courses given by individual professors or projects sponsored by two peace research institutes that have some affiliations with the universities of Hamburg and Frankfurt. Alien to academia
The explanation for this dearth may be found in the traditional German approach to both academics and politics. Professors in the established disciplines -- who exercise rather more authority than their American counterparts -- have generally frowned on cross-disciplinary experiments. Even the by now well-established Anglo-Saxon concept of ``strategic studies'' as a mix of politics, economics, and military strategy has never really caught on here -- and the notion of ``peace studies'' is even more alien to academia.
``In the hierarchy,'' explains peace researcher Gert Krell of the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research in Frankfurt, ``peace research comes close to the bottom. At the very bottom is peace education.''
Germany's fairly rigid system of politics has also put barriers in the way of peace studies. The established parliamentary parties -- which are much more coherent ideologically than America's eclectic parties -- regard themselves as the sole proper channels for policy debate and tend to shut out autonomous citizens' movements. Politics here does not have the flexibility (or the volatility) of the American parties' absorption in every new grass-roots cause or Washington's circulation of officials with new agendas in and out of public posts. Novel ideas like the antinuclear groundswell of the early '80s are less readily institutionalized. As a result, peace issues are still widely viewed largely as partisan left-wing causes rather than topics of nonpartisan concern.
Individual peace courses at universities, high schools, or in the extensive system of adult education -- these enjoyed more of a vogue in the 1970s than today -- have been largely the province of alumni of the 1968 student activism. Internationally, these classes were often directed against US involvement in Vietnam; domestically they were often aimed at the anti-communism and cold-war confrontation that were used to justify reintegration of former Nazi supporters into positions of leadership in the 1950s.
At the Hessian Foundation one section on political psychology and peace education, after looking at disturbed children and violence in the family, is now trying to devise noncompetitive games. It is not yet at the point of carrying this into broader peace education, however.
The Social Democrats did make an effort to stimulate peace research (if not peace education as such) when they took over the government for the first time in the late 1960s. At that point they established three peace research institutes that were intended to be nonpartisan. Two survivors
West German conservatives always viewed the institutes as too radical, however. As soon as they returned to power they killed off the one sponsored by the federal and state governments -- the German Society for Peace and Conflict Research -- by withdrawing its funds.
Two institutes -- the Hessian Foundation and the Hamburg Institute for Peace Research and Security -- still exist. They cooperate with the universities in their cities, and they sponsor specific studies of such topics as confidence building measures, or nonoffensive defense.
The remaining forum for peace studies that should be mentioned is the network of Protestant Academies, with their series of two- to three-day seminars on East-West d'etente and a host of other political and social issues. These academies were set up after World War II, partly in contrition for the mainstream churches' failure to oppose Hitler in the 1930s and '40s.