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Christa Voigt

What happened during the last two years in Germany?

The NETZWERK FRIEDENSSTEUER is still existing but the number of active members has not grown. Unfortunately some important friends stepped down from their active roles for personal reasons, e.g. Klaus Hecker, Martin Arnold and Reinhard Egel.

We have to cope with the fact that we are still an extremely small minority. The reasons for that are numerous. Since "the enemy" in the eastern part of the world disappeared, for most of the people arms and military are no longer an immediate concern. On the other hand many people who favoured nonviolent solutions have changed their minds since the endless war in former Yugoslavia.

The largest meetings of the NETZWERK are in the southwest (where the FRIEDENSSTEUER-INITIATIVE has been born). "Steuern zu Pflugscharen", the branch of the movement within the churches has concentrated mainly in the Rhineland and Bavaria, but is growing in the eastern parts of Germany.

Klaus Hecker has - before he dedicated himself to other issues - together with Gunther Lott and Robert Antoch written a pamphlet named "Lobby Advices". In addition we have set up a new concept for campaign information material , that we can put together for individual requirements.

In 1995 there were major projects brought forward by the NETZWERK FRIEDENSSTEUER:

A postcard-action from "Steuern zu Pflugscharen", which on the 1st September, the International Anti-War Day of the Trade Unions, were to be publicly handed over to the President of the Bundestag Rita Su(muth. Unfortunately the President refused an appointment although some Members of Parliament supported the concern. So finally the 1600 postcards had to be sent by mail.

In a second "action" which has been initiated from the southwest wing of the NETZWERK FRIEDENSSTEUER on the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights (10th December) we addressed ourselves with postcards, letters and transfer orders of refused taxes and donated money to our Bundesprasident Roman Herzog. We asked him to take care this to be spent to promote peace by non-military means and in addition to give us the opportunity to discuss the Peace Tax concern in a personal meeting. there were 200 postcards and personal letters and bout 15.000,-- DM which had been sent, but the money as well as an appointment were refused with the comment, that the Bundesprasident is obliged to political neutrality. Nevertheless we learnt that money puts more emphasis on the concern. The office of the Bundesprasident had to deal with the postcards and the money and thus with our concern. each participant received a letter and the money back. Some of us then sent this money to the International project of the WRI.

Although we feel that constitutional rights are on our side, two of the highest courts in Germany (Bundesfinanzhof and Bundesverfassungsgericht) have blocked our concern so far in individual law suits. As a result we have to concentrate on lobbying in parliament, striving for legal action. This seems to be awful hard when looking at the limits of our personal possibilities.

Latest news are, that Paul Tiedemann, who in 1995 has published a DOS documentation of trails and court decisions in Germany, has now transformed this into a data bank "Gewissensfreiheit" (freedom of conscience) which is accessible via internet. It contains German and international precedents as well as historical and philosophical references and abstracts plus various addresses in the field. Internet access on-line in World Wide Web is : . Available also as floppy disk. for information contact: Dr. Paul Tiedemann, Rangenbergstr. 46, D 60388 Frankfurt/Main, Germany.