My buddy Walter Wolfgang’s life changed into a portrait in ethical braveness
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My buddy Walter Wolfgang’s life changed into a portrait in ethical braveness

Donald Trump flies into the UK next week, and we are able to be treated to the surreal spectacle of a broadly reviled president meeting a defeated top minister amid scenes of pomp, ceremony and protest.

For all the high-degree meetings he’ll attend, the president could benefit some distance greater by way of staying domestic and learning about the lifestyles of my pal Walter Wolfgang, A lifelong peace activist, he become preoccupied in his very last days through Trump and his developing belligerence toward Iran.

Walter’s existence story reads like a records of the remaining century. He changed into born to Jewish mother and father in Frankfurt in 1923, a 12 months before the metropolis elected its first Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann. But by 1937 he had to flee from the Nazis to Britain, a teenage refugee. Walter’s parents remained in Germany, handiest to lose the whole thing whilst their commercial enterprise was confiscated. His father changed into taken to Buchenwald awareness camp. Although he became able to break out Germany for Britain with Walter’s mom in 1939, Buchenwald destroyed his health and caused his untimely dying in 1945 – the equal yr that Mayor Landmann died of malnutrition even as in hiding from the Nazis.

“As a refugee from Nazi Germany,” Walter later said, “I noticed at the beginning hand the terrible results of a political doctrine based totally on hatred and racism.” It became this experience, and a in addition political awakening when his family was interned like other Germans in England in 1940, that gave Walter a willpower to combat prejudice in opposition to all peoples and training. He did no longer want all of us else, anywhere within the world, to suffer exploitation or oppression, as he and his own family had.

This battle went hand in hand along with his dedication to peace. His political views have been underpinned by way of his Jewish faith – “the Jewish aim of human brotherhood”, as he positioned it, and a desire to make real the Hebrew prophets’ imaginative and prescient of a global without conflict.

In 1948, having been naturalised as a British citizen, he joined the Labour celebration. Walter gravitated toward the left, in part because of his competition to the Korean struggle. In 1956 he helped organise a momentous demonstration in Trafalgar square against the invasion of Suez – one of the events on which he determined the Labour management was on his facet.

Walter was horrified by means of the bloodless warfare and the prospect of nuclear annihilation. In 1958 he became a founder member of the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and helped organise the first Aldermaston march to Britain’s Atomic weapons research status quo – an occasion he remembered for the presence of bands and tune and an abruptly true turnout.

He stood as a Labour candidate for Croydon North East in the 1959 preferred election. He did no longer win, and changed into prevented from standing again due to his anti-nuclear perspectives. Unperturbed, he devoted the relaxation of his lifestyles to that cause – a level of dedication that become acknowledged while CND made him its vice-president for lifestyles.

In later lifestyles, Walter campaigned vigorously in opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and became celebrated for an incident at the 2005 Labour celebration convention, while he changed into forcefully ejected from the corridor after heckling “Nonsense” at foreign secretary Jack Straw as he extolled the virtues of the British career of Iraq.

The footage of an 82-year-antique guy being manhandled and then detained under anti-terrorism laws caused vast outrage and became symbolic of the developing intolerance of open debate inside the birthday party. Next morning Walter was readmitted to the conference corridor to a standing ovation from the ground and, later, an apology from Tony Blair. A year after the debacle, in a becoming riposte from the grassroots to the party hierarchy, he became elected to Labour’s countrywide govt.

To me, Walter was usually a pricey pal and a courageous ethical chief. I visited him in medical institution quickly earlier than he died. He turned into very ill however his mind become nevertheless sharp. I requested him to document a message on my cellphone.

I very plenty doubt that President Trump will listen similar sentiments from Theresa may additionally subsequent week, however there will be hundreds at the streets to amplify Walter’s message. I know that if he was still with us, he would be there too, back in Trafalgar square, status up for peace.

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