Visits to International Peace Camps
“En route to Comiso in March 1983, I stopped for a few hours in Greenham Common in England. ... A group of women were camped outside the base protesting the planned deployment of the missiles. ... Many of their practices, rituals, and dances puzzled me then, but I was to learn that not only was their presence a protest, but many of their actions were life affirming and celebratory of life. As one woman said to me, they had to leave home to have a home. As another said to me, ‘Men have always left home for war. We have left home for peace.’”
-Sissy Farenthold, in her speech "Women's Search for Peace"
In the early 1980s, the United States, with NATO backing, set up missile bases throughout Western Europe. In response to a missile base in Greenham Common, England, a group of British women formed a peace camp.
Protesters camped for several years in harsh conditions and experienced altercations with local authorities. Their actions influenced other women’s groups to create peace camps near other missile bases and nuclear sites throughout Europe and in the United States (Wittner, 2003).
Farenthold visited several peace camps in the early 1980s. The following pages provide a selection of documents from her 1983 visit to Greenham Common and Comiso, Sicily, as well as her trip to Seneca Falls, New York, the site of a nuclear distribution center.
Farenthold discusses her trip to the Greenham Common peace camp in a July 2011 interview with the Rapoport Center:
View the transcript.
If you would like to know more about the international peace movement and the women's peace camps of the 1980s, please see our selected reading list.