The protesters repeatedly sang the Ukrainian national anthem, because among the participants in the big demonstration against Russia’s attack on Ukraine on Sunday there were several who had fled the war in Ukraine. Among others, a young woman who, like many other Ukrainians, arrived a few days ago at the main station in Berlin and, together with three Ukrainian friends, called for solidarity with her homeland.
“Slava Ukraini”, Ukraine’s honor, shouted loudly, raised the Ukrainian flag to the sky and said in Russian: “I want to see Putin dead.” She fears, the woman explained, for her family, friends and acquaintances who live in Kiev and now endure increasingly precarious conditions as Russian troops “tighten the noose around the Ukrainian capital.”
Many people again demonstrated against Russia’s war in Ukraine. However, there were significantly fewer than at the last major demo two weeks ago. The police counted between 20,000 and 30,000 participants. The alliance of organizers from unions, churches, environmental protection initiatives and peace groups spoke of 60,000 protesters. 100,000 had been counted.
Under the slogan “Stop the war. Peace and solidarity for the people of Ukraine”, several thousand people began to move around 12 noon on Alexanderplatz. At the head of the procession was a carnival float with a paper Putin mache stuffing Ukraine down his throat: “Choke on this!” he said.
Many more thousands of people joined the Straße des 17. Juni. In front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column rallies of different movements were held.
Head of the DGB against rearmament – and for help with high energy prices
While a thousand Ukrainian refugees had to be housed in Berlin on Saturday alone, and there was general agreement that everything should be done to help people – organizations are registering a great willingness to help among Berliners – the protesters they were visibly divided on the question of how Germany, Europe and NATO should react to the conflict. Participants and speakers represented wildly different views on issues such as rearmament and weapons deliveries.
In his speech at the big rally at the Victory Column, the president of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), Reiner Hoffmann, called for an immediate end to the war and the opening of borders for people fleeing the war.” regardless of the color of their skin and nationality”. But he also emphasized that the DGB rejects any form of rearmament, and quickly earned some whistles and jeers from the crowd.
Applause rang out again when he called for greater involvement of the rich in defending “social peace” in Germany. The DGB supports sanctions against Russia, Hoffmann said. You should and must meet Putin. In addition, however, we must be attentive to the “protection of the weakest in our society”, who are particularly affected by the increase in heating costs and the price of gasoline.
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Members of the Federation of Democratic Workers Associations (DIDF), who also ran with numerous affiliates, expressed concern that the 100 billion for armaments would soon be lost in the areas of education, health and social affairs, according to a cartel of the association. made visible. A 25-year-old member explained that there was also the question of whether increased spending on arms would really contribute to our security when dealing with the third strongest military power in the world.
“My head hurts a lot when I see these radical left-wing weirdos”
A man with a Ukrainian flag, Stefan Lauter, was harassed by protesters who wanted to dissolve NATO. “NATO is the defense alliance that protects us from Putin,” he said. “My head hurts a lot when I see these radical left nutters.” Lauter, who lives in Prenzlauer Berg, said that he has many Ukrainian friends. He was on vacation in Kiev in 2016 and was overwhelmed by the city and the people. “And now this beautiful city is being shot down.”
Other participants, such as Bernd, 72, from Tiergarten, or the administrator Helga Reimund, from Kreuzberg, said that the conflict had to be resolved through negotiations. Bernd criticized the announced increase in the military budget. “Weapons always kill, they prolong war,” he said. “Then there will be more victims, more children will die,” he believes that diplomacy and talks with Putin should continue to be used. “One must not let all the strings break.”
Sebastian de Wedding stood at the edge of the demo. He held up a sign: “9 millimeters for Putin’s scolding.” That was his silent protest against the large-scale demonstration of the peace movement. “I don’t understand how one can speak out for disarmament at a time when we need rearmament,” he said. “Weapons are needed to end this war of aggression.”
“Putin only understands force”
This is how the participants of the separately registered Ukrainian demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate saw it: there were between 500 and 1000 people there. There, not only one of the speakers spoke in favor of the no-fly zone, which NATO has rejected so far. “This does not mean more war, it means peace for the local population,” he said. Ukraine is a reliable partner of the West. “It deserves to become a new member of a democratic EU.”
[Ukraine-Hilfe in Berliner Kiezen: Informationen über die Flüchtlingsaufnahme und Initiativen finden Sie in unseren zwölf Bezirksnewslettern.]
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Daniel, also from Wedding, had brought a NATO flag to Pariser Platz. “NATO is the only guarantee that can prevent Putin from attacking the rest of Europe,” the 33-year-old said. He did not think much of the large-scale demonstration on June 17th Street. Two weeks ago he watched the show, but he couldn’t get used to many of the demands. “There was talk of demilitarization, negotiations, speeches,” he says. “That’s naive. You can’t stop Putin with peace doves.”
He supported Ukrainian demands for a no-fly zone. “Of course I am worried that the war will continue to escalate, but there is no alternative,” he says. “Putin only understands force.”
“Protect the Ukrainian sky”, Christian from Reinickendorf also demanded on his poster. “The West falls in love with Putin’s bluff,” the 31-year-old said. He sees the risk of the war spreading. “But I don’t think Putin will go ahead with nuclear war, because then it will be over for him too.” He participated in the large-scale demonstration two weeks ago, but not this Sunday. “They’re there for the big word peace, but what does that mean?” he says. “The message was too watered down for me.”