From a Dec. 20 letter to President Bush and Congress from 450 German university professors, initiated by Horst-Eberhard Richter and Andreas Flitner:

This appeal is directed to you by citizens of Germany -- a country from which, half a century ago, a criminal dictator precipitated the world into the carnage of the Second World War. At that time, there was no viable institution such as today's United Nations and hence no measure such as a united trade embargo to bring this inhumane regime to its knees by nonmilitary means.

Now that the East-West conflict has been overcome, the world community of nations has for the first time the power to counter aggressors by concerted sanctions. It seems quite out of the question that Saddam Hussein can in the long term withstand the pressure of the effective economic blockade decided on and enforced by U.N. resolution.

And yet the world is at present witnessing the preparations for an international war -- a war in which thousands of soldiers, many of them American, and also large numbers of women and children would be killed, a war that would unavoidably affect millions upon millions of people and nations outside the immediate area, and that would inflict incalculable damage upon the ecology. The fact that the likely deployment by Iraq of chemical weapons has been made possible by exports from, of all sources, our own country is something that fills us as Germans with shame.

We condemn in the most decisive terms possible the aggression and breaches of human rights perpetrated by the Iraq regime. The correct response to its crimes, however, is not a war whose sheer extent would make it a crime of a far greater order. In this situation we appeal to you with all urgency to seek, hand in hand with the United Nations, not a military but a political solution in the Gulf.