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Journalists who wish to participate in the IPPNW Congress on Small Arms
or the protest in front of the gates of Heckler & Koch may complete their
accreditation here.

In Cooperation with

The congress is supported by:
amnesty international and amnesty-Aktionsnetz Heilberufe, Brot für die Welt and Misereor

You are here: www.human-target.org | Press

Interview with Dr. Helmut Lohrer, IPPNW Germany

IPPNW-Arzt Dr. Helmut Lohrer

Dr. Helmut Lohrer, a family doctor living in the Black Forest of Germany, has been a passionate leader in IPPNW at the national and international levels since joining our cause as a medical student in 1986. He is the inspiration and energy behind “Human Target: International Congress on Social and Health Effects of the Global Arms Trade,” which will convene this May in his home town of Villingen-Schwenningen.

Vital Signs: IPPNW’s affiliates in the developing world have been the primary locus of our Aiming for Prevention campaign. Why did you think it was important to organize an international congress on armed violence in Europe, particularly in Germany?

Helmut Lohrer: In medicine we are trained to not only treat symptoms, but also to look at the cause of disease. Armed violence is much less prevalent in Europe than, for instance, in some parts of Africa. Yet many of those guns are produced and exported from here. Preventing gun violence requires us to examine where those guns are coming from, where they are going, and why. IPPNWGermany decided to make our contribution to this core international program of IPPNW by hosting a congress on the impact of the smallarms industry.

Vital Signs: Why hold it in the Black Forest instead of a major city like Berlin?

Helmut Lohrer: The largest producer of small arms in Europe is a medium-sized company based in the pretty little town of Oberndorf. Heckler & Koch guns are being used in almost every conflict around the world. The political decisions about exporting Heckler & Koch guns all over the world are taken in Berlin. But convening this gathering of international experts and advocates at the doorstep of the factory will have a much greater effect than doing it in
Berlin, where you share media attention with several other events. By hosting such an event here in the Black Forest, the whole area will be involved in the discussion about small arms. It’s also important to understand that Heckler & Koch is only one part of a large arms industry in this beautiful area. So you can imagine what an impact this congress could have.

Vital Signs: During the congress, IPPNW Germany is organizing a visit to the headquarters of Heckler & Koch. What do you hope to achieve?

Helmut Lohrer: We are planning a very peaceful and creative form of protest that is not meant to intimidate anybody working in the factory. Why not sing a song of peace at a fountain of war?

Vital Signs: We heard that the mayor of Villingen-Schwenningen is very supportive. That’s surprising since gun manufacturing is so important to the local economy.

Helmut Lohrer: The Mayor of Villingen-Schwenningen, a medieval town not far from Oberndorf, has been a member of Mayors for Peace for years. After a long and intense discussion in the City Council, the Mayor persuaded the city to co-host our congress and to give us the town hall for free. This is indeed remarkable, considering the fact that Heckler & Koch are not paying taxes to Villingen-Schwenningen.

Vital Signs:You’ve been volunteering with IPPNW for more than a quarter century. What’s motivated you all these

Helmut Lohrer: It is the continuing hope that mankind will be able to eventually overcome war and violence – be it nuclear war with the prospect of our total annihilation or ever increasing carnage by the scourge of small arms. I wish my children could live in a world where it is not money and military superiority that governs the world, but where mutual respect for the diversity of

Vital Signs, Newsletter of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Vol 24, Issue 2, 2013


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In the 21st Century, small arms such as those produced in Oberndorf have fallen into disrepute as weapons of mass destruction. The number of people killed by them is colossal in comparison with other weapons. Within the population, however, stubborn arguments for their production persist. The most important of these arguments are presented here with an attempt to rebut them. Read more