U.S. citizens take action against U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe – remove U.S. flag; blockade main gate; meet with Base Commander

Photo by Bonnie Urfer

from Ralph Hutchison

A delegation of eleven U.S. citizens joined with activists from China, Russia, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium and Britain at a peace encampment at the German airbase in Büchel, Germany, where U.S. B61 bombs are deployed.

On Sunday, July 16, following the celebration of a Christian liturgy, Dutch and U.S. citizens removed the fence blocking the main entrance to the airbase and proceeded on site, the Dutch delegation carrying bread for a “Bread Not Bombs” action and the U.S. delegation carrying the text of the Nuclear Ban Treaty passed on July 7 at the United Nations in New York City.

More than thirty activists entered the site without incident, passing through the security gate that was accidentally left unlocked and unstaffed. The Dutch delegation placed loaves of bread on the wings of jet fighters; the U.S. delegation lowered the U.S. flag from the flagpole, requested a meeting with the base commander, and read the text of the U.N. Treaty to soldiers at the base.

After forty-five minutes, guards ran to seal the gates and police were summoned. Eventually, all activists were expelled from the facility without being charged.

On Monday, July 17, activists woke to find themselves prisoners in the peace camp as those attempting to approach the base with banners were rebuffed by police. More than a dozen police vans ringed the roundabout at the gate.

Undeterred, activists traveled through the woods and sat down to block the road leading into the airbase. They were joined by two other teams who traveled to blockade other entrance gates. The U.S. delegation asked again to meet with the Base commander and were told that he would arrive shortly to meet with them.

Photo by Ralph Hutchison

When the commander arrived, they delivered the Treaty to him and then left the blockade to greet workers arriving at the main gate with banners requesting the removal of U.S. B61 bombs from German soil. The Dutch activists remained in the road for another forty-five minutes before being removed by police. There were no arrests.

The U.S. delegation arrived at the invitation of German activists to participate in a twenty week encampment at Büchel.

In the U.S. delegation: Steve Baggarly, Virginia; Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Maryland; Susan Crane, California; Carmella Cole and Ralph Hutchison, Tennessee; Leona Morgan, New Mexico; Zara Brown, Minnesota; John LaForge and Bonnie Urfer, Wisconsin, and Kathy Boylan, Washington, D.C.


16 July 2017: About 30 peace activists, among them Catholic Workers from six communities and three nations, enter Büchel AFB in Germany

from Frits ter Kuile

Catholic Workers Susan Crane (Redwood City Catholic Worker), Kathy Boylan (Dorothy Day House, D.C.), Steve Baggarly (Norfolk Catholic Worker), Christiane Danowski and Elli Langer (Kana Soupkitchen Dortmund, Germany), Susan van der Hijden, Herman van Veelen, Daan Savert, Margriet Bos, Jia Jia ter Kuile, Frits ter Kuile and Sofie Jansen (Jeannette Noëlhuis, Amsterdam Catholic Worker), and a lot of other good folks entered Büchel air base 72 years after the first atomic bomb exploded on July 16, 1945 at Alamagordo, New Mexico. 

At Büchel AFB, American nuclear bombs are waiting in vaults to be dropped by German Tornados on their designated targets. After a liturgy with a homily by Phil Berrigan (Steve read his words out loud), we opened several closed gates to our own and the soldiers’ astonishment and got within the base carrying loaves of bread blessed during the liturgy. Phil’s first miracle?! We offered bread to the soldiers and put bread into three fighter jets stationed near the front gate: bread not bombs! Susan Crane and John LaForge lowered the U.S. flag and proclaimed it time the U.S. soldiers go home. Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert read out loud the treaty text just supported by an overwhelming majority of the Earth’s nations at the U.N., declaring nuclear weapons illegal to the amassing soldiers. After some time the German police arrived and took our names for trespassing and escorted us off base.

Photo by Ralph Hutchison

July 17 at dawn we blocked the traffic at the three gates entering the base. The American delegation told the police they would leave if they could speak with the commander and present him with the treaty text. The police thereupon pressed the commander to come out, which he grudgingly did. After receiving the treaty text declaring nuclear weapons soon to be illegal, he returned to the base and the Amercans left the blocade. Police moved in and removed the others and took their names.

This action is part of an ongoing action to get the old nuclear weapons out of Europe and prevent new U.S. bombs from coming.

More info at buechel-atombombenfrei.jimdo.com or write to noelhuis@antenna.nl