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HomeE.U.Small town, big worry – Germans disapprove of building a weapons factory

Small town, big worry – Germans disapprove of building a weapons factory

Rheinmetall has abandoned the idea of building a munitions factory in the German town of Großenhain because of a protest by local residents, according to the NYT.

Their resistance reflects the anxiety the Germans have about country’s desire to arm Ukraine.

When officials in the government of Saxony, formerly part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), found out that Rheinmetall, Germany’s leading arms manufacturer, was considering building a new weapons factory in the region, they saw an opportunity for economic growth.

Officials hoped that the opening of a new plant would create hundreds of jobs and get a generous piece of federal funding allocated to restore Germany’s Armed Forces.

However, some residents of Großenhain, the town of 20,000 people chosen to build the plant, decided otherwise.

16 of the 22 city council members wrote to Chancellor Olaf Scholz urging him to block the project. The local wing of the far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) held a rally in June at which speakers strongly protested the arms sale to Ukraine.

We reject further military-economic exploitation after years of military exploitation. We do not want to participate indirectly in wars around the world.

Sebastian Fischer, a member of the Saxony state legislature, held a meeting with constituents to discuss concerns about the plant’s construction.

“A lot of people born in the ’80s, ’70s or ’60s say, ‘We don’t want any more guns. We don’t want an army anymore. We don’t need that anymore. We want to live in peace with Russia.’ It’s very difficult to explain to people why we have to defend Ukraine.”

The resistance in Großenhain began almost immediately after CEO Armin Papperger stated in an interview in January that he was holding talks with the federal government to build an ammunition plant in Saxony to help meet the surge in demand caused by the military efforts of Ukraine.

As a result, executives at Rheinmetall decided to invest in expanding an existing facility in southern Germany instead of building a new one. According to Papperger, the decision was dictated by economic considerations, since the new facility would only be commercially viable if a major new contract or substantial financial support from the government was secured.

Jens Lehmann, Saxony’s representative in the German parliament, regretted the decision.

Given the Zeitenwende, the government is now determined to develop the security and defence industries. It would be a pity if this ambition did not affect the eastern part of Germany.

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