By Ruben D. Arvizu
In a world where the violence and cruelty of war is increasing in many parts of our suffering planet, Dr. David Krieger, Co-Founder and President Emeritus of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), passed away last Thursday, December 7, at his home in Santa Barbara, California, with his loving family by his side.
It is not easy to summarize in a few paragraphs his long and positive life of peace-oriented action for the elimination of nuclear weapons. I remember him with great affection in a sincere friendship of more than 35 years. I spoke with him only a few weeks ago and his voice was weary, tired from the disease that afflicted him. But his message was firm, that we must redouble our efforts to avoid the nuclear catastrophe that would be the end of humanity. I share with you these two messages I received from him in the middle of last month, the second of which is his comment on my article “The Children of War.”
Thanks to him, in June 1989, I had the very special opportunity to meet and converse with Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, while he was receiving the Peace Leader Award from NAPF. Out of that meeting came Cousteau’s invitation for me to “join his family,” which I did almost immediately, and my life took a new direction. David asked me to join NAPF as well, and that was another great honor when he appointed me Director for Latin America, and during his tenure I represented the organization in countless actions, conferences, lectures, all focused on conveying the message of peace and the urgency for all citizens of the world to demand an end to nuclear weapons. Krieger was a man of thought, conviction, and honor. He wanted to make the world safer, more peaceful, and ultimately, kinder and fairer for all. He never stopped believing that it was possible. It was easy and natural to be drawn to his charisma, his honesty, and his deep knowledge of peace and nuclear disarmament. David Krieger was nominated 10 times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. NAPF is proud to be a part of this campaign.
David maintained a close relationship with Latin America. On one occasion, he told me of his collaboration in the 1960s with Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations, Alfonso García Robles, in the drafting of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This treaty prohibited the production, stockpiling or transport of any type of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. This document has served as an example for other similar agreements. García Robles received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. “He was an extraordinary man who was very helpful to me because of his enthusiasm for peace and the disarmament of the menacing weapons of mass destruction.” he once told me.
David loved and wrote poetry and did it very well in the Japanese haiku style. One day he explained to me that with this style of poetry he found it easier to let his spirit fly and express his feelings about world events and everyday things. I had the great pleasure of translating several of those poems into Spanish, which were reproduced with great success in the Latin media in the United States and Latin America. He also admired greatly the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
David was one of the main advocates for Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be remembered every year for the enormous tragedy of the cities destroyed by the atomic bombs in World War II, and that it should never be allowed to happen again anywhere. He encouraged the attendance at meetings and conferences of hibakushas, the survivors of that atomic holocaust, who recount and share their terrible experiences.
This Christmas I will miss the beautiful card we received every year at home, from David and his dear family.
Rest in peace, David Krieger, a great man of peace.