December 31, 2022
Fürstenfeldbruck – In January it will be 30 years since Dagmar Berkenberg dedicated her professional life to the service of world peace. The now 61-year-old became aware of the position of the foundation, which translates as “May Peace Prevail On Earth International”, through a newspaper advertisement. The Japanese Masami Saionji, who is still chairwoman of the organization, had come to Munich with her family to establish a European office.
Dagmar Berkenberg was working in the tourism industry at the time and was actually happy there. But she immediately felt addressed by the organization, whose foundation stone was laid in the 1970s by a contemporary witness of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The goal was to send a positive message to the world so that a second Hiroshima would never be possible again,” explains Berkenberg.
This is done symbolically, for example with the help of signs or Peace Poles – tall, narrow 4-sided wooden obelisks bearing the message of peace on all sides in different languages. The woman from Bruck ensured that around 1000 of these Peace Poles were set up in public spaces throughout Germany. According to the organization – which operates in the USA as a non-governmental organization and in Germany as an association – there are around 250,000 worldwide. As silent admonishers, they should call on everyone who looks at them to peaceful coexistence. It’s about creating awareness, explains Berkenberg. “Everyone should ask themselves: What can I personally do for peace today?” Because this begins with each individual.
So far, there is not a single Peace Pole in the Bruck district – the nearest ones are in Gilching (Starnberg district) and Geltendorf (Landsberg district). Years ago, a mobile obelisk designed by an artist from Bad Tölz toured the region with the message of peace. Berkenberg would have liked to set it up permanently on the monastery grounds Fürstenfeld, but due to unclear responsibilities and apparent lack of interest, nothing came of it.
The Bruckerin has print templates of the peace message in the computer in all languages of the world. This year, in addition to German and English, Russian and Ukrainian were in demand. When we look at the news and in view of the war of aggression in Europe, don’t we occasionally find ourselves in a crisis of meaning? “Yes,” says Dagmar Berkenberg. “I’d be lying if I said no. But I always get back to the top quickly.”
Many positive encounters with people who are also committed to a better world help her. She often goes to school classes, with cards with all 196 country flags in her luggage. Each child receives a map and is called upon to visualize the corresponding country. Then the cards are placed mandala-shaped on the floor in a small ceremony, so that you have the world in all its colorfulness in front of you. To this end, a wish for peace is expressed. “It has great power,” says the 61-year-old, who also works in refugee aid.
Dagmar Berkenberg will not give up hope that patiently spreading the message of peace will make a difference, no matter how terrible the world situation may be. Because she also feels the effect of her work in herself. “I’m not who I was 30 years ago. I have become more peaceful inside.