Enlarge image

Chancellor Scholz at Rheimmetall in Unterlüß

Photo: Fabian Bimmer / AFP

Around 400 people protested on Monday around the planned new ammunition factory of the arms company Rheinmetall in Lower Saxony. Farmers with around 300 tractors were involved, a police spokesman said. The demonstrators blocked access to the arms company in Unterlüß.

Some sections of the road are closed, there are obstructions, but: "You can get through the town," said the spokesman. According to the rural population of Lower Saxony, the farmers demonstrated primarily against cuts in agricultural diesel and against the policies of the traffic light government in Berlin.

The Südheide peace campaign also held a peaceful protest with around ten people against "armament and war policy," as its spokesman said: "We expect the government to have a de-escalating effect."

Production for Ukraine

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (both SPD) are expected in the Lüneburg Heath on Monday for the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new ammunition factory in Unterlüß. The new “Lower Saxony Plant” will, among other things, produce artillery ammunition. Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was also scheduled to arrive.

Rheinmetall particularly wants to expand the production of 155-millimeter artillery shells in Unterlüß. The federal government assessed the expansion of ammunition production in advance as a signal of Germany's continued military support for Ukraine. In the future, the company wants to produce 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition as well as explosives and rocket engines there every year. Rheinmetall wants to invest around 300 million euros in the Lower Saxony location.

Ukraine has been suffering from massive ammunition shortages for some time. Since the Russian attack on the country in February 2022, Ukrainian defenders have needed large quantities of projectiles to keep the Russian army at bay.

Peace activists and politicians from the Left Party, the new Wagenknecht party BSW and the AfD, on the other hand, repeatedly call for fewer weapons to be delivered to Ukraine and for negotiations to begin with the Kremlin instead. However, Russia experts repeatedly point out that Moscow is not signaling any willingness to compromise and is still sticking to its goal of completely subjugating Ukraine. A recently published analysis by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) provides a good overview of the topic (click here for the paper).

Unterlüß is the arms company's largest production site; in addition to ammunition, military vehicles such as the Puma infantry fighting vehicle are also manufactured there.