Maria Feckl Easter March 2024Dear Munich residents and newcomers,
Dear friends,

Thank you, Laura Meschede, for the introduction. Many thanks to Brigitte Obermayer on behalf of the entire organizing team who prepared this year’s Easter march. The sun is kind to us, even if there is a lot of headwind from other sides that would like to sweep us off the pitch.

Why are we here today at the Easter March in Munich on Marienplatz?
In the tradition of a consistent peace policy, we demand “Ceasefire now!”

Enough is enough! We cannot stand idly by and watch innocent people suffer and die while political interests and power games gain the upper hand. We are calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine, Sudan, northern Iraq, northern Syria, Gaza – worldwide.

We condemn the horrific attack by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on October 7 against Israeli and international civilians. We condemn the murders, the rapes and the hostage-takings. We stand in solidarity with the victims on both sides. We demand an end to the terror and suffering of the civilian population in Gaza, the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel and the release of all hostages and political prisoners.

This week, the United States finally cleared the way for Resolution 2728, which calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, at least for the month of Ramadan. This UN Security Council resolution further calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages as well as humanitarian access for food and medical supplies. This resolution must not remain without consequences. Unfortunately, this resolution was passed without any measures to enforce the demands. Although the Security Council would be the body that could order measures such as sanctions or the deployment of blue helmets. The words and appeals of Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Baerbock are empty and ineffective without decisive action.

We call on the Federal Government to

  • End German complicity in war crimes!
  • Stop arms deliveries to Israel immediately!
  • Ceasefire now!

As the organizer of the Munich International Peace Conference, I will now say a few words about the scandalous cancellation of the Peace Conference’s funding by the City of Munich’s Department of Culture. The city talks about saving money, but in reality they want to use a ridiculous financial policy to quietly and insidiously restrict freedom of expression. Savings are not made by selectively canceling funding for a single event.

Olga Karach, feminist and peace activist from Belarus and speaker at this year’s peace conference, said on Bayerischer Rundfunk:
“I find that very sad because I can see how the corridor of opinion is narrowing. People live in the paradigm of war, as if the war were in their country. And then they no longer want to hear dissenting opinions.” (end of quote)
Or are we already at war in Germany?

The DIE LINKE/DIE PARTEI parliamentary group is calling for the funding to be continued. In their counter-proposal, they got to the heart of the real reasons for cutting the funding: “Thereshould no longer be any talk of peace, disarmament or alternative ideas of security.”

It all started with a Green-Red city council motion. The Green-Red city council faction had previously submitted a motion calling for the funding to be stopped immediately. The mere submission of the application was intended to show Mr. Biebl, the cultural affairs officer, how he should decide! – namely to stop financial support for the peace conference immediately and in future after 19 years of funding practice – and this one week before the event.

Some of the Greens and Reds in the city council (it was the initiative of the Greens, first and foremost city councillor Mona Fuchs), i.e. this section of 14 city councillors, were probably of the opinion that they could not award city funding according to general principles, but according to their party-political preferences. The Green-Red motion has thus improperly interfered with an ongoing administrative process. The awarding of a grant of only € 6,500 is an ongoing administrative process. It is therefore the sole responsibility and sovereignty of the culture department – just like a building application in the building department, for example. The funding guidelines, not the administrative processes, are discussed and decided by the city council. The green-red proposal was intended to circumvent a discussion and create facts.

We are therefore calling on Munich’s city councillors:
The departments of the Munich city administration must remain independent of party political influence.

There is now a positive and a negative side:
The negative side: this week we received the official decision to reject funding for the peace conference. We will probably take legal action against it.
The positive side and our first success are:
Cultural advisor Anton Biebl has come to the conclusion that he is independent. The green-red city council motion has no binding effect on the cultural department.
We will continue to fight for uncensored spaces for discussion.

I would like to invite you, dear listeners, here and now to the 23rd International Munich Peace Conference in February 2025.

The decision by the City of Munich to cut off funding for the peace conference is not only a blow to the peace movement, but also an attack on freedom of expression. Freedom of expression and uncensored political debate are part of our culture in a free and democratic state. Surely it must be possible to have open and controversial discussions about prospects for peace? Also about pacifist and anti-government peace perspectives. If we engage in premature and excessive moral censorship, we leave the debate space to right-wing extremism.

Freedom of expression is a precious commodity. But with it also comes immense responsibility. It is not only our right to express our opinions, but also our duty to do so responsibly. It is unacceptable for freedom of opinion to be misused as a cover for hatred, agitation and discrimination.

We are seeing a worrying rise in far-right ideologies and movements in our country. The AfD sometimes presents itself as a peace party. In the Munich peace movement, we took a very critical look at this problem. Organizers of events who refuse to distance themselves from the AfD are not cooperation partners for us. (footnote 1,2)

The AfD is trying to divide our society with rhetoric that is nationalistic and xenophobic. We must never allow fear, prejudice and enemy stereotypes to gain the upper hand.

The growing militarization is also an expression of the shift to the right in society. Resolving conflicts through violence only leads to endless suffering and destruction.

The peace movement is international and anti-fascist. It is resolutely opposed to nationalist, militarist, ethnic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic or right-wing populist Islamophobic politics. (footnote 3)

All people are equal in dignity and rights – everywhere.

We will not remain silent!
The Munich Peace Conference is part of Munich’s urban society and culture. She talks about the issues that move people, regardless of party political preferences.

According to the ZDF Politbarometer of March 8, 2024, a majority of 59% of Germans are against the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine . (footnote 4)
And again according to the ZDF political barometer of March 22, a majority of 69% of Germans do not consider Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip to be justified (footnote 5) in view of the many civilian casualties.

We will not be intimidated!
We will not remain silent!
It is high time for a peace policy worthy of the name – in Ukraine, in the Middle East and worldwide!
“Ceasefire now!”

Thank you very much.

2 A look at the peace movements in Munich in February 2023 – Munich Peace Conference

HERE you can find the speech to read or print out

HERE you will find the parts of the speech to listen to (introduction missing)

Martin Pilgram


Another compilation of the Munich Easter March with Streetopsmusic can be found HERE