- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

BERLIN, Feb. 15 (UPI) — In the German capital the demonstration's main gathering place was a site familiar to all European youth — the Tiergarten, where the youthful Love Parade is held each mid-summer in a din of amplified rock music. The anti-war protest that converged there Saturday, however, conveyed a far different mood. The crowd of all ages, estimated by Berlin police at nearly 500,000, was stern, defiant and decidedly bristly toward Washington.

"Stop Bush," said one popular placard. "Stop the Bushit," said another. Many of the banners were pointedly in English. "You can bomb the world into pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace," one of them admonished. In an echo of past anti-war movements, T-shirts were emblazoned with "Give Peace a Chance."

In front of the main stage — where aging musicians sang old peace songs dusted off from the anti-U.S. missile protests of the 1980s — an oversize papier-m ch Statue of Liberty bobbed above the crowd. The figure held a missile in her upraised hand and an oil barrel in the other.

On stage a series of speakers praised Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's anti-war stand. Some demanded even more from the German government.

"Concrete steps must follow," demanded one protest organizer addressing the crowd. "We want a 'no' vote in the Security Council. We must refuse to provide any material aid to the war effort. We must recall our troops from Kuwait and the Gulf region (where they are presently stationed for Operation Enduring Freedom). And we must deny all warplanes overflight rights over our own country."

Top political leaders like Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer were careful to stay away from the protest. But other member of Fischer's pacifist Greens party were out in force, led by Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin and Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Minister Renate Kunnast. Only one Cabinet member from Schroeder's Social Democratic Party, Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, showed up among the marchers in defiance of Schroeder's own request that SPD officials stay away.

Few remembered that back in 1991, Gerhard Schroeder, then premier of Lower Saxony, had himself been prominent at demonstrations protesting against the Gulf War.

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