On October 10, 1981, the capital city of Bonn hosted the largest peace demonstration in the Federal Republic to date. The crowd of 250,000–300,000 demonstrators demanded an end to both the arms race and the stationing of intermediate-range missiles in Western Europe. Speaking at the demonstration, Green Party politician Petra Kelly and SPD executive committee member Erhard Eppler criticized Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s support for NATO’s Dual-Track Decision, and author Heinrich Böll defended the peace movement against the charge of anti-Americanism. The presence of Coretta Scott King (middle), the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., underscored the relationship between the West German peace movement and the American civil rights movement. Her attendance that day assured demonstrators that American pacifists supported their cause. At the end of the demonstration, Harry Belafonte (to the left of Coretta Scott King) led demonstrators in singing “We shall overcome,” the hymn of the American civil rights movement.

Coretta Scott King and Harry Belafonte at the Peace Demonstration in Bonn (October 10, 1981)

  • Jochen Moll


Source: Harry Belafonte and Coretta Scott King, among others, sitting on stage, October 10, 1981. Image 12 of 14. Location: Bonn. Photo: Jochen Moll.
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© bpk / Jochen Moll