Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | August 2, 2010

Ban the bomb for evermore: 1960s

Poster for Danish anti nuclear march, Easter 1961

Poster for Danish anti nuclear march, Easter 1961, organised by the group Kampagnen mod Atomvaben

One of the striking features of the archives uncovered by the project is the international network of peace activism which they reveal.  This was not just a British campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament, it was a world-wide struggle against the bomb.  Across the archives of Peace News, the Direct Action Committee, the American-European Peace March and the Committee of 100, and the papers of Hugh Brock, Michael Randle and Sarah Meyer, there are some wonderful sources for the history of the European nuclear disarmament movement.

For the 1960s, the best routes into this history are the Peace News photograph collection and subject files, and the papers of April Carter as European Organiser of the American-European Peace March.  Peace News has gathered photographs of peace, anti-nuclear and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and marches in West Germany, Italy, Denmark and Greece.  These include a march in Frankfurt against Soviet nuclear tests, August 1962; the anti-nuclear march from Perugia to Assissi organised by Aldo Capitini in September 1961; and the marches from Marathon to Athens organised by the Bertrand Russell Youth Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, 1963-66.  Subject files on the peace movement in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Norway contain leaflets, circulars, reports of demonstrations and marches, correspondence, press cuttings and press releases.  The groups who feature in these files include the Union Federale, Mouvement du 8 mai, Centre Liegeois d’Action pour la Non-Violence, Aldrig mere Krig, Kampagnen mod Atomvaben, Action Civique Non Violente, Lanzo del Vasto’s Communaute de l’Arche, Mouvement Contre l’Armement Atomique and Folkereisning mot Krig.

American-European March leaflet

American-European March leaflet, produced as the march passed through Belgium

The American-European March had its origins in the San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace, organised by the Committee for Non Violent Action.  However once it reached Europe in June 1961, the Walk for Peace was re-named to incorporate the European March for Disarmament which Swedish peace activists Inge Oskarsson and Jill Brealt had planned.  April Carter’s papers include correspondence about relations between the two marches, as well as files about a conference held in Groningen in March 1961 to build co-operation between European peace groups in advance of the march.  Helga Stolle and Hans-Konrad Tempel, organisers of the Ostermarsch der Atomwaffengegner in West Germany, were closely involved in this with April Carter.  Progress reports from members of the core march team as they walked through Europe have also survived.

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