Deutschland: Barbara Gladysch

My utopia is that we, mothers, we, women, would be able to keep our sons away from military service, no matter in which part of the world they are supposed to fight.

— Barbara Gladysch

Barbara Gladysch (born 1940) worked for 36 years as a special needs teacher for children. She has devoted herself to securing a peaceful life for children worldwide. In 1981, she founded Mothers for Peace, as part of the German peace movement. Since then, she has assisted refugees from the Balkan war region, organized holiday programs for children from Chernobyl, and has been active against nuclear weapons and energy. In 1997, she founded Little Star Points, a therapy center for children traumatized by war in Grosny. In 1998, she was awarded the highest German service medal.

In 1996, when Barbara Gladysch traveled to Grosny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya, for the first time, she was moved by the plight of the children. Some had been so badly damaged psychologically that they had stopped speaking, playing, or looking directly at anyone. The special needs teacher who had worked with children with behavioral problems until her retirement, was motivated to set up a therapy center for traumatized children: the Little Star Points. Here, children are encouraged by therapists and educators to talk about their war experiences; it is here that they learn to sing and dance again. “Children have a right to peace, and we adults have to provide it,” says Barbara Gladysch, who founded the Mothers for Peace in Düsseldorf in 1981. She has participated in countless demonstrations and other activities for peace and has traveled frequently to war-torn parts of the world, such as former Yugoslavia. Her sheer joy in life motivates others to support her projects: for example, primary school children from Düsseldorf who raised over 5000 euros for the Little Star Points. There were a lot of other projects Barbara Gladysch initiated. After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 she founded the organization Children of Chernobyl, which is involved in environmental issues and fights against nuclear power, and has brought children with radiation sickness to Germany to recuperate. She also worked with war refugees from Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, and Kosovo, trying to improve the situation of children by providing help with homework and leisure activities. When founding the organization Mothers for Peace, Barbara Gladysch wrote, “We have no enemies. We are ‘declaring peace’ on all countries. Children all over the world are our children.” The pacifist and peacemaker has always been faithful to this motto.

Mothers for Peace