Two weeks ago they began their mission. Ten European activists embarked on a 52-city American tour to plead for disarmament and a nuclear-free world. Yesterday, mission concluded, five of the tour members praised their host country's receptivity but noted they had found some resistance along the way.
At meetings and church gatherings across the country, "people could scarcely stop talking. The local grassroots effort on behalf of disarmament is a great encouragement to us," said the Rev. Laurens Hogebrink, executive board member of the Dutch Interchurch Peace Council.
Hogebrink and nine companions arrived in New York March 20, then divided into pairs, each team scouring different parts of the country. The American Friends Service Committee and Clergy and Laity Concerned invited the Europeans and sponsored their tour.
The most commonly asked questions concerned whether the touring Europeans harbored anti-American or pro-communist feelings, said Toni Liversage, Danish author and feminist. Americans, she noted, have a more intense fear of communism than Europeans.
Andreas Zumach, staff member of Action/Reconciliation of West Germany, said none of the tour members is communist or anti-American, but simply concerned about nuclear war.
"Nobody believes in the possibility of a winnable, survivable nuclear war," said Zumach. "We also think the next war will be a nuclear one and, therefore, the survival of all mankind will be at stake. So European peace movements are everything but anti-American because we think Americans will be included in the destruction.
"Germany," Zumach said, "has deep-rooted anti-communist feeling, given our historical experiences, but there is a growing understanding that you can't just go on with this confrontation. We've got to develop some kind of security no longer defined only in military means."
Giancarla Codrignani, an attorney and independent member of the Italian Parliament from Bologna, said the European antinuclear movement was more spontaneous than the one here. "The European movement was brought on by itself without much preparation," she said.
"Also, we Europeans have a time limit," said Liversage, referring to the cruise missiles slated for Great Britain and the Pershing IIs slated to be operational in Germany in 1983.
"We are in a hurry, and also we have a geographical point of view--we know where these new missiles are going to be deployed," she said.
While Europeans have demonstrated against nuclear weapons in larger numbers than Americans, Liversage predicted that the United States will soon be shaken by the nuclear freeze and disarmament movements. "I think the antiwar protests against the Vietnam war showed Americans that they can bring about change," she said. Anti-nuclear demonstrations have attracted as many as 250,000 persons in recent months in London, Amsterdam and Bonn.
Liversage, who toured the Northeast, said, "I met people who had never before been involved in politics" and who expressed support. "I could feel something growing here."