Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2021
Dear colleague Judge Neuerburg, [Zimmermann],
My name is Ulf Panzer, I was a criminal judge at the Hamburg Harburg District Court for 35 years. I am a founding member of the German section of IALANA and the initiative Judges and Prosecutors for Peace.
In 1985, at the invitation of the American National Lawyers’ Guild and the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, I was on a speaking tour of the United States to report to my American colleagues on the activities of judges and prosecutors against nuclear weapons in Germany.
In Minneapolis, while lecturing at the law school, I met Mr. John LaForge, who has now asked me for support because of his court case with you. I am happy to comply with this request.
I myself had to experience a petrified judge who fined me and my fellow judges for coercion because we had blocked access to the Pershing base in Mutlangen. I do not even want to go into the fact that a sit-in blockade, the classic means of non-violence, cannot constitute coercion by force, but I would like to appeal to you – unlike my judge at the Schwäbisch-Gmünd District Court – not to disregard the defence based on international law.
Mr. LaForge has already requested that an expert in international law be heard on the question of the unlawfulness of the stationing of American nuclear bombs in Büchel and has made convincing statements on the binding principles of international law that are violated by the fact that German pilots practice dropping nuclear bombs.
I would like to add that this is also a serious violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: As a party to the NPT, the Federal Republic, a non-nuclear-weapon state, is obligated under Article 2 of the NPT “not to accept, directly or indirectly, nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or the power to dispose of them from anyone.” Similarly, under Article 1 of the NPT, the USA is obliged “not to transfer, directly or indirectly, nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or the power to dispose of them, to anyone.”
It cannot be denied that, in the event of nuclear war, German bomber pilots would gain direct power of disposal over nuclear bombs, the use of which, moreover, has been ruled by the International Court of Justice to be illegal under international law
Dear Judge Neuerburg, I sincerely ask you to have the courage to decide against the unfortunately prevailing opinion and to trust your sense of justice. It would be just not to protect the atomic bombs from civil protest, but the people must be protected from the atomic weapons.
Ulf Panzer (retired judge)
Hamburg, January 27, 2021
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)