Frankreich: Solange Fernex

A falling tree makes a lot of noise. But one cannot hear a forest germinate."

— Solange Fernex

Solange Fernex has been campaigning for the preservation of the environment, against nuclear power, and for equal rights for women for 40 years. Her activities as a member of the Green Party and of the European Parliament (1989–1994), of her town council (24 years), her involvement in several NGOs, her public presentations, numerous translations and books, her civic disobedience and her concrete actions promoting solidarity, have informed and inspired young people, helped others and encouraged them to shoulder their responsibilities, and served as a brilliant example to all.

February 1975: It is the beginning of the occupation of the Wyhl site, where a nuclear power plant is to be built on the German bank of the Rhine. After five months out in the rain, wind, and snow, Solange Fernex has just returned from Marckolsheim, where she had set up her tent in protest against the construction of a lead factory. But no time to rest: the German authorities begin the deforestation of the site. Solange recalls: “Our three boys unpacked the small tent and set it up in front of the bulldozer. The driver stopped, and the women of Wyhl climbed up on his vehicle. That was one of the magic moments, when you feel that everyone wants to take action and that all it needs is for one person to take the first step. Almost immediately, there was a multitude of tents on the site – they seemed to multiply in miraculous fashion like the proverbial loaves and fishes. In fact, it turned out that everyone had brought a tent in their car trunks. The people from the Wyhl region talked to the workers, the Alsatians were there out of solidarity and to show that the nuclear threat knows no boundaries.” The victorious occupation of the site lasted until November 1975 (the forest in Wyhl was declared a nature reserve in 1995). It was followed by the occupation of Kaiseraugst in Switzerland, of Gerstheim, of Heiteren, of Fessenheim in the Rhine Plain. In February 1977, Solange, her son, and his friends went on an “unlimited hunger strike” in Fessenheim which lasted 23 days. During these days, thousands of white daisies were painted on the tarmac roads, as a symbol of non-violent resistance. And all the towns and villages in Alsace were renamed “Fessenheim.” A victory of sorts was achieved after 17 days – a control commission was approved of which Solange became a member. In 1983, after the hunger strike for a nuclear freeze, Solange was hospitalized after 40 days.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) The Children of Chernobyl European Green Party