Germany after the antiwar movement - Conflict between unions and government inevitable

The shipspotters in Belgium, a local anti war campaign in the city of Antwerp launched by Vonk-supporters during the war on Iraq, had informed us that during the month of April massive loads of military equipment including heavy tanks, trucks and ammunition were going to be shipped from US Army bases in Germany to Iraq. Local anti war campaigners and supporters of Der Funke in Wiesbaden, Germany, investigated the affair. The shipspotters in Belgium, a local anti war campaign in the city of Antwerp launched by Vonk-supporters during the war on Iraq, had informed us that during the month of April massive loads of military equipment including heavy tanks, trucks and ammunition were going to be shipped from US Army bases in Germany to Iraq. Local anti war campaigners and supporters of Der Funke in Wiesbaden, Germany, investigated the affair and discovered that freight trains run by the cargo section of DB (the German Railways), DB Cargo, were scheduled to carry the military equipment towards the North Sea ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam until late April. Young anti war activists ("trainspotters") took up the Belgian example and carefully watched was moving on the railways until finally they found what they were looking for.

Whereas bourgeois politicians and media cheered the "quick and smooth end of the war on Iraq", the trainspotters wondered why the US Army in Iraq still needed all this equipment and reached the conclusion that at a time when Saddam had been ousted that either they know that there will not be a happy ending in Iraq, or they are planning further military attacks on Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, or both.

Anyway – the campaign got some echo at the regional Easter anti war demos and in the local and national newspapers. The demands put forward include the call for the Schröder government to end any infrastructural assistance for US movement of weaponry and the call for the unions on the railways to effectively boycott military transportation.

Logically the antiwar movement has now gone down, and unlike in March, peace demos have not been attracting large numbers, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of youth and workers were involved in demos and other activities between February and March has definitely left its mark.

War at home: attacks on the welfare state

Working class activists are involved in another sort of warfare now. Apart from some industrial disputes in sectors such as retail trade, printing and packaging industries, the "peace loving" Schröder government has announced a Blairite and Thatcherite type attack on the welfare state, including major attacks on unemployment benefits, health insurance and job protection. This has led to a sharp conflict between the union and SPD leaders which was clear to everyone during the May Day rallies. Schröder got a cold reception from the majority of those taking part when he spoke at the central DGB (German Trade Union Federation) May Day rally in Neu-Anspach near Frankfurt. Protest demos are planned for the coming weeks, and under pressure from the rank and file the SPD party apparatus has been forced to call a special conference on June 1, to get Schröder's programme endorsed. Schröder will probably get his majority simply on the basis of blackmailing party activists and MPs with the threat of resignation, but the polarisation between the union apparatus and the SPD government will have enormous consequences for the future. (a further report on these developments will follow)