Personal Declaration of Judge Eckart Rottka about the demonstration of “Judges and Public Prosecutors for Peace” in Mutlangen on 12 January 1987

I should like to explain briefly why I have demonstrated at Mutlangen together with like-minded colleagues – men and women.

I do not claim any moral justification for my action: I am no more moral than thousands of demonstrators before us. I think any further comment on that subject would be wasted on this court which had the arrogance to teach morals to Helmut Gollwitzer.

Neither do I wish to justify my action by claiming that I am doing my duty as a citizen to point out the madness of deterrence, a strategy that is founded on the ideology of genocide. Moreover, references to civil rights and duties are clearly inappropriate in front of a judge who not only found Walter Jens reprehensible but publicly reproached him in a statement after the judgement with those things that he could not put into his verdict.

I also do not want to make any legal assessment of my conduct: my lawyers have done that although I have doubts as to whether that was futile in this court: a court which has consciously upheld that Klaus Vack is guilty against the decision of the revisional court.

I did not go to Mutlangen to offer resistance to anything in our state. The word “resistance” belongs for me to the courageous fight of antifascist citizens during the Nazi era. Ana finally I did not go to Mutlangen with my colleagues to try to repair the injustice done by judges during the Hitler era which brought suffering and death to count less people.

My father in his posit ion as Reich Judge Advocate was one of the highest military judges but that had nothing to do with my wish for peace and my fear for the future of my daughters.

I came originally from an old Saxonian officer’s family: my father had to change his job after he broke his spine when he was shot down in the First World War. He became a judge. My mother had also be en a judge until the removal of women from this job by the, Nazis.

In 1937 my father was called to Berlin to become Reich Judge Advocate by Rudiger Schleicher who was later murdered as a resistance fighter by the SS. Six years later my father was removed from that position by Hitler’s personal order.

In the same year – 1943 – I saw the first war-dead, in Berlin-Steglitz as a nine-year-old, I saw people stuck and burnt in liquid asphalt.

Two years later, in February 1945; I saw my birth town Dresden destroyed in a firestorm. 135,000 people dead, twice as many as were killed at Hiroshima six months later: “conventionally killed” the military jargon would call it today, that is if the word “kill” still exists in their language.

I had the good fortune – maybe also misfortune – to see 8 May 1945 in that part of Germany that became the German Democratic Republic: good fortune because from that day on I was educated into the ideals of humanism in the humanist grammar school in Zittau, and I became antifascist and anti war. Misfortune because my father was arrested by the Soviet occupying forces and disappeared in jail before the expropriation of our family estates (Despite his persecution by the Nazis).

Until my father’s sentence to lifelong penitentiary in 1950 my mother had been practising as a judge. She was then personally removed from her post by the Minister of Justice of the DDR.

Despite these experiences with my parents, or perhaps because of them, I started to study law in West Berlin in 1953.

During 1954 and 1955 I lived in the USA. A Fulbright grant made it possible for me to study political science at Stanford University. There I did not only learn to think and act “politically-scientifically”, I got to know and understand war horror stories that I had heard in the DDR but had thought were Communist propaganda until then.

In 1962, after my second state exams, I decide to become a judge: apart for one short exception, I have never regretted it.

In 1963/64 I was given an “Air-Lift-Memorial-Grant” by the three Allied Commendants of Berlin to go and study in Great Britain. I attended a number of English and Scottish courts during that time.

Politics in the USA, justice in Great Britain – with the help of these experiences I wanted to become a judge who is not only committed to the written law but also to social justice: the conditions for it seemed ideal in my country – with some reservations.

Then came the Vietnam War; at the beginning of which I was still on the side of the Kennedy government. Many of my US friends and fellow students went to Vietnam to kill and be killed. Napalm on women and children, agent orange on the life source of the population. My Lai.

A ring of memories was completed – Dresden: Hiroshima: Korea: My Lai.

And then came with the nuclear rearmament, creeping at first and then growing more and more insane: fear for my growing daughters and their generation, fear also for my own survival.

That fear led me to the peace movement, and that fear gave us the impetus to start the organisation “Judges and Public Prosecutors for Peace” to show to the public that the peace movement is neither criminal nor an enemy of the state.

Since 1983 we have tried to explain that the genocide planned (or at least accepted), by the military violates our basic laws. For three and a half years we have tried, by those intellectual means, asked for by this particular court, to stop the civilian population from repressing their terror of a nuclear inferno. Public discussions, resolutions, newspaper advertisments protests as in a morass it all went under in the striving for prosperity.

We, the “Judges and Public Prosecutors for Peace” did not go to Mutlangen spontaneously and easily to carry out this form of demonstration as thousands of others have done before. The discussion about whether to demonstrate took one and a half years, during which some of us had to cancel our original consent for good respectable reasons. It was a long but fruitful time that we spent making our decision. On the 12 January, 20 of us did exactly what we believed to be right and necessary: an audible “No” to the insanity of planned nuclear genocide.