Arbeitsstelle Friedensarbeit im Haus kirchlicher Dienste

Ökumenische Dekade zur Überwindung von Gewalt 2001 - 2010

Steps against Violence - a summery

Designed for young adults, a Schritte gegen Tritte (Steps against Violence) awareness-raising seminar programme in Germany focuses on structural, ethical and personal violence and offers methods of non-violent conflict resolution, taking into account the age and gender of participants.

As a church programme, it draws its inspiration from a biblical spirituality of non-violence but also from the history of anti-racism and anti-apartheid work in South Africa, as well as from a wide spectrum of other religions and experiences around the world. 

The programme was designed in 1993 by Rev. Klaus J. Burckhardt and implemented in the Brunswick area from 1996-2007. In 2007 it was officially adopted by the Department of Peace and Justice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hannover.

In 1997, Schritte gegen Tritte began cooperating closely with a union-related agency – the Arbeitsstelle Rechtsextremismus und Gewalt in Brunswick (ARUG) focusing on “Right-wing Extremism and Violence,” and in 2009 the two bodies together produced a very successful manual for schools and churches on right-wing extremism entitled "Gib dem Hass keine Chance - Neo-Nazis enttarnen!" (Don’t give Hate a Chance – Unmasking Neo-Nazis).

The teaching material is presented in seminar settings that help shed light on structural, ethnic and personal violence in connection with racism and marginalization, and encourages young adults to reflect on their own situation.  Such seminars are now organized in 40 German schools and 60 congregations each year.  In addition, 140 teachers have studied the project’s methods and material and are currently working in schools and congregations around the country.

A typical all-day Schritte gegen Tritte seminar on prevention of violence would present the experiences of the South African anti-apartheid movement, tailoring this material to the local scene in an inter-active and participatory way.  Participants would be encouraged to talk about their own experiences of confronting violence and to analyze its root causes.  Such seminars provide Christian ethical guidelines for active non-violence, and introduce concrete approaches of overcoming violence that participants enact through role-play; the aim is to promote analysis and understanding, and instill civil courage.

Among the teaching materials developed by Schritte gegen Tritte, a booklet about neo-Nazis called "Wir erobern die Städte vom Lande aus" ("We conquer the cities from the countryside") offers “10 reasons why Christians raise their voices against Right-wing extremism”,  and suggestions on “Debate with neo-Nazis”, “What congregations can do”,  or “Successful networking against the extreme right”.

In 2010 international anti-racism experts visited Germany on invitation of members of the "Steps against violence" network and German Churches on a fact finding tour, concluding in a report "Transform the whole, not just a niche."

See  Video and report of the exposure tour in Germany.