Conference Report by Matthias Schütt, RC Ratzeburg- Alte Salzstraße

Updated: Nov 13

Democracy under Fire —The Rotary Keokuk Peace Pipe Letters, 1931-2031,

title of an International Rotary Work Conference, May 23-27, 2022 in Northfield, Minnesota.

Rotary International, with its 1.2 million members worldwide, has been advocating for peace and democracy since 1905. An extraordinary example of this involvement is associated with the name Jewett Fulton. Fulton, an American Rotarian, traveled to Europe in 1931 to participate in the International Rotary Convention held that year in Vienna. He was deeply disturbed by the political, economic, and societal tensions he sensed on the European continent. Once back in his hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, he and his Rotary Club initiated a global action in an effort to counter the approaching calamity. The Keokuk Club sent a letter to each of the then-existing 504 Rotary Clubs outside the United States, offering to smoke the peace pipe symbolically with them.

Today the notion of the Peace Pipe is more relevant than ever. Nationalism, authoritarian forms of government, and an emphasis on viewing the world in terms of spheres of influence have increased to a dangerous level. The sense of democratic renewal that prevailed at the end of the Cold War has vanished. This is why we Rotarians hope to activate Jewett Fulton’s peace pipe initiative anew.

The moving responses received by the Keokuk Rotary Club from all over the world at the beginning of the 1930s and the further development of this global action up to the present day are documented at: www.KeokukPeaceLetters.com


From left: York Penno, Paris; Holger & Susanne Knaack, Germany, Rotary’s World President attended a sacred Peace-Pipe Ceremony during the conference. York represented StarPeace — a young book and game publisher. www.go-StarPeace.com

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