( dpa )- Several thousand dedicated peace activists braved cold and wet conditions Saturday to demonstrate against war in traditional Easter peace marches across Germany.
Organizers in Frankfurt, from where the peace marches are organized each year, said the turnout was better than last year, with the focus on conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"There are protests right across the republic," a spokesman said.
"This is a signal from a truly anti-war movement," said Willi van Ooyen, the chief organizer in recent years.
"Halt the foreign deployment of German troops," was the slogan on banners in Munich, in reference primarily to the 3,500 German troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Organizers put the turnout in the Bavarian capital at 1,500.
They said some 1,000 people had turned out in the south-western city of Stuttgart.
There were protests in Hanover, Wiesbaden, Munich, Augsburg and Erlangen, where at most a couple of hundred demonstrators gathered in each centre.
Some 70 events were taking place across the country between Good Friday and Easter Monday, with the main marches on Saturday and Monday.
Peace activist Matthias Dembinski of the Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research in Frankfurt, acknowledged that numbers were down from the highpoint of previous decades.
"War and peace are still an urgent issue," Dembinski told national public radio Deutschlandfunk, saying the main aim was to maintain consciousness among peace activists.
But he admitted there was no key issue to motivate the wider populace.
Greens politician Heinrich Fuecks said Germany's involvement in the Balkan wars, particularly in halting aggression in Kosovo, had proved a watershed.
There had been widespread recognition that military force could assist peace, he told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.
Although peace marches began in Germany in 1960, the movement is marking its 50th anniversary, dating the birth of the peace movement to the 1958 march in Britain from central London to the nuclear armaments facility at Aldermaston.
The German marches drew 300,000 in 1968, when opposition to the Vietnam War was at its height, and 700,000 in 1983 when medium-ranged nuclear missiles were about to be stationed in Western Europe.