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Information about the Start of Greenpeace in Germany

The contents of this page handle the initiation processes of Greenpeace in Germany until 1981, in which I was significantly involved. I also became the first German Greenpeace member and sailed as the only German crew member on the first "Rainbow Warrior".

im April 2011
    Gerhard Dunkel

Because of obviously existing interest, and in order to avoid possible inaccuracies in the narration of events, I decided to publish online the initial exchange of letters and some other still available documents.

After more than 30 years - when publishing these pages on 30 September 2010 - I assume that no "secrets" will be unveiled.

Depending on retrieval of more documents or information this page will be actualized from time to time.

"Neue Westfälische", Bielefeld (02 Oct 2010): Greenpeace - In Bielefeld fing alles an (pdf; 58 kB),
"Die Glocke", Gütersloh (21 Oct 2011): Interview to the Film 'Rainbow Warriors'.

Please refrain from asking for further interviews to the "Greenpeace" topic!
And: I do not speak for current activities of Greenpeace.


A. Approach: A.K.U. Vlotho | Association for sea mammals Bielefeld | Greenpeace Canada + Europe

  1. 1979-09-19_AKU-Vlotho (pdf;1378kB) - "contacting": Letter to Canada
  2. 1979-09-28_Pat-Moore (pdf;1122kB) - first answer from Canada
  3. 1979-10-03_AKU-Vlotho-Canada (pdf;1184kB) - letter to Canada
  4. 1979-10-03_AKU-Vlotho-Paris (pdf;1312kB) - letter to France
  5. 1979-10-10_Antwort-Paris (pdf;338kB) - answer from France
  6. 1979-10-22_Membership (pdf;1051kB) - Member #21805 Greenpeace Foundation
  7. 1979-10-26_Pat-Moore (pdf;995kB) - exchange of ideas
  8. 1979-11-05_David-McTaggart (pdf;1421kB) - organisation structure
  9. 1979-11-12_AKU-Vlotho (pdf;989kB) - estimation
  10. 1979-11-19_GP-Europe (pdf;2002kB) - articles of association for Greenpeace Europe, Amsterdam
  11. 1979-11-29_David-McTaggart (pdf;1275kB) - coordination Bielefeld office
  12. 1979-11-30_Dunkel-an-Verein-in-BI (pdf;1383kB) - contacting Bielefeld's association for sea mammals

The first Greenpeace office in Germany was opened in February 1980 in Bielefeld.

It was used for the coordination of the Greenpeace activity in Germany until the end of March 1981.

Claudia und William
    Claudia and William in the Bielefeld Greenpeace office
    Gerhard at planning

» First circular letter - to all German environment protection initiatives (pdf; 445kB)
» Answer for interested - to those persons who wanted to support us (pdf; 314kB)

B. Participation in actions in 1980

As a member of Greenpeace Foundation or as representantive of the German group I already took part in actions in 1980 before the association "Greenpeace Germany" was founded - the first two on board of the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior":

Rainbow Warrior 1980
The 'Rainbow Warrior' 1980

- May 1980: Blockade of dilute acid dumping ships in Rotterdam harbor,
» Rotterdam_1980 - Article about the action in Rotterdam (pdf; 376kB)

- June 1980: Campaign against Spain's commercial whaling with the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior",
» Rainbow Warrior - crewlist - single German among other nationalities (pdf; 307kB)
» Press release - 14 Jun 1980: Telex to the campaign (pdf; 646kB)
» Journey with the Rainbow Warrior - 05-26 Jun 1980: report in the first info letter (pdf; 839kB)

Whaler + Zodiac 1980  Whaler + Zodiac 1980
Zodiac and 'Whaler' off Vigo, Spain 1980 (right in the background a Spanish battleship)

see some » Photos of the Spain campaign (provided by Greenpeace Germany)

- October 1980: first "German action" in Nordenham against dilute acid dumping in the North Sea.
» course of the Nordenham action - detailed original version of the info letter 1980 (pdf; 1.827kB)

Gerhard and Heiner at the 'Kronos' bow
togehter with Heiner from Hamburg at the 'Kronos' bow
Claudia and Renate in the life raft at the 'Kronos' bow
Claudia and Renate in the life raft at the 'Kronos' bow


from Vlotho: Renate and Bernd, in the foreground Claudia and Gerhard
from Vlotho: Renate und Bernd, in the foreground Claudia and Gerhard
at the boat of the river police
  at the boat of the river police after ending the action


C. Founding of the German GREENPEACE association in Bielefeld on 18th November 1980

The media coverage of the actions was followed by a huge positive resonance from many people. It became necessary to found an association to be able, for example, to fill out donation receipts. The guidelines from the articles of association for Greenpeace Europe (as umbrella organisation, see above) should be integrated.

During the founding assembly on 18th November 1980 in the Bielefeld office the first articles of association and the application for official registration were approved.
All founders and first members of 'Greenpeace Germany' came from Bielefeld area or from abroad.

The founding members elected a 'Steering Committee' for the coordination (especially of finances) during the following six months.

At 05 December 1980, the association Greenpeace was registered in the 'list of tax-exempt entities'. Order No. 305/12/544, tax office Bielefeld.

D. Removal of the GREENPEACE office from Bielefeld to Hamburg

In December 1980 William Parkinson unfortunately became very sick and therefore handed over the group and office management as well as the position in the 'Steering Committee' to me.

By the end of January 1981 it turned out that David McTaggart and some others (without informing William or me!) had decided to remove the office and domicile of Greenpeace Germany to Hamburg. This decision was made without any consultation with the Bielefeld activists, who had to view shocked and helpless while documents and all of the material suddenly was transported away to Hamburg. This severe mortification continued to have an effect among the involved persons in Bielefeld and surroundings for a long time and led to a rapid reduction of activity.

Equally helpless appeared numerous (about 80) supporters from several cities, who - highly committed and guided from Bielefeld - wanted to work as contact persons, and who abruptly were forwarded to an unknown new leadership in Hamburg. The Bielefeld office was closed by the end of March 1981.

Amendment 1:
Not until 1990 I learnt by query at the Local Court of Hamburg that William Parkinson and I had been officially registered as members of the board of directors until 7th December 1981 - we therefore would have been legally responsible for actions (from others); and we two were the only members with residence in Germany.

» 1982-05-18_Vereinsregister_Hamburg (pdf; 851kB) - excerpt from register of associations Hamburg

Amendment 2:
There are also after many years, a number of people from the Hamburg area who present themselves wrongly as founding members or co-founder of Greenpeace Germany. I hope to contribute with these documents to terminate such insolence.

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Copyright © - Gerhard Dunkel, Bielefeld