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The publication of an open letter to German Chancellor Scholz signed by leading cultural figures has triggered a fierce debate about the planned delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine — especially on social media.
Journalist and feminist Alice Schwarzer was one of the first signatories of the letter to Scholz
An open letter addressed to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, initially signed by 28 German cultural figures and published on April 29 on the website of feminist magazine Emma, is fueling discussion in the country.
In it, prominent German signatories — including feminist and journalist Alice Schwarzer, writer Juli Zeh, singer Reinhard Mey, author Alexander Kluge and actor Lars Eidinger — made an urgent appeal to the chancellor not to supply more heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Unlike previous critics who have accused Scholz of being too indecisive on the issue, the signatories of the letter praise him for having “so far considered the risks so carefully” and for having done everything possible to prevent the war in Ukraine from escalating into a third world war.
The letter was published a day after the German Parliament’s decision on April 28 to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, a vote which was approved with a large majority.
In the run-up, pressure on the government, both from the public and the Bundestag, had increased massively.
Canisters full of ballots over vote to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine on April 28, 2022
Since the publication of the open letter, the debate about the planned arms deliveries has been gaining momentum — particularly in social media.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk directly attacked Emma editor Alice Schwarzer on Twitter, calling her “celebrated feminism” a “facade” in the face of mass rapes of Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers and accusing her of cynicism.
Alice Schwarzer reacted no less sharply to Melnyk’s criticism in an interview with the daily Die Welt : “This is naked demagogy and this ambassador is harming his country,” Schwarzer said. “This is not the first time that the Ukrainian ambassador has said outrageous things.”
The open letter has also been criticized by politicians across the party spectrum. For example, Green Party politician Peter Heilrath asked on Twitter whether the letter’s supporters would also have advised the fighters in the Warsaw ghetto to give up “in order to prevent unnecessary victims.”
Konstantin Kuhle, deputy chairman of the Free Democrats parliamentary group in the Bundestag, called the position of the signatories “madness” on Twitter. His party colleague Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann wrote that the only possible compromise was the “full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Bundestag member Sahra Wagenknecht, on the other hand, remains true to her Left party’s pacifist line and shares the opinion of the initial signatories. On Twitter, Wagenknecht describes the letter as an “important call from artists and intellectuals,” adding that even though the praise for Scholz is now outdated following the parliamentary decision to supply weapons, the letter’s demands to prevent a third world war are “all the more urgent.”
The German population is divided on the question of whether Germany should supply heavy weapons to Ukraine: 45% are in favor and just as many are against. That was the latest finding of a representative survey conducted by infratest dimap for ARD-DeutschlandTrend.
As of mid-day on May 2, more than 155,000 people had signed the open letter, posted as a petition on change.org, the worldwide platform for online activism.
This text was originally written in German.
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