Two nuclear weapons opponents have filed a new complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasberg, France, alleging that German courts have unfairly refused to consider defense testimony from expert witnesses regarding the illegal status of the deployment of US nuclear weapons in Germany.
On November 11, 2021, Stefanie Augustin from Dortmund and Marion Küpker from Hamburg filed an appeal through their lawyer Anna Busl. The ECHR will now decide whether to re-examine the case and render a decision, or to refuse to have it examined further.
Background: On Sunday, July 15, 2018, Augustin and Küpker were among eighteen people from four different countries who entered the German airbase at Büchel, near Cochem, where around 20 US nuclear bombs are being kept ready by the 702 of the US Air Force.sd Ammunition Support Squadron. Seven of the activists were from the United States, six from Germany, four from the Netherlands and one from England. In five groups, they cut fences to enter the base and once inside, some climbed to a hangar where nuclear weapons may have been stored, and others read aloud to the soldiers a warning. concerning military and civil laws prohibiting the planning and preparation of attacks using nuclear weapons.
Augustine said: “I took part in this action because it is the only way for me as a citizen to be able to bring these violations of the law by the state to court. This includes the practice of Germany’s criminal nuclear participation in NATO. Since we exhausted all remedies in national courts with our 14th constitutional complaint – which in our case was again rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court – we have appealed for the first time to the European Court of Human Rights man.
Küpker (winner of the 2019 Aachen Peace Prize for the campaign “Büchel is everywhere: without nuclear weapons!”) Added: “International law is superior to German federal law. The courts should have considered whether we really had sufficient and urgent reasons to draw attention to this state of emergency with such action. Our requests for expert testimony were simply rejected by the courts. However, courts are generally required to consider questions of international and constitutional law. The appeal is therefore based on our “right to be heard” under Article 6, para. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and on our “right to life” under the convention in art. 2, s. 1 having been violated in local, regional and constitutional courts.
The deployed US nuclear weapons violate the public’s “right to life” and hence the European Convention, the appellants argue, because the perpetual threat of using Büchel’s 20 US H bombs in attacks launched by hunters. German reaction Tornado, is regularly put into practice during exercises, notably last month “Steadfast Noon”. American bombs hang “like the sword of Damocles,” says Küpker, “because the credible threat of nuclear war is continuous, increases the chances of global nuclear war and makes Germany a target.”
In the past two years, around 50 prosecutions for non-violent “entry” to the Büchel base have taken place before the Cochem District Court and the Koblenz Regional Court. (The trial reports can be found here: And over the past 25 years, 14 appeals filed by nuclear weapons critics to Germany’s highest court, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, have been dismissed.
The July 15, 2018 action, and others in 2017 and 2019, were jointly organized by Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Germany and the American organization Nukewatch (www.nukewatchinfo.org) where I work. The campaign tip of the German National Support Group “Abolish Nuclear Weapons – Start With Us!” – made up of more than 70 organizations – declared its support for this very first appeal of the anti-nuclear movement to the ECHR.
So, after decades of protests and resistance to US nuclear weapons in Germany (there were as many as 7,000 during the Cold War), the appeal to the ECHR offers its judges a rare opportunity. Without having to condemn the pride, hypocrisy or destabilizing propaganda of the US nuclear threat, judges can simply reaffirm an accused’s right to a fair trial – a tribunal impartial enough that the accused are allowed to present expert testimony – and then urge the German courts to listen.