German army recruits child soldiers

This video, about the early 20th century, is called German Militarism.

By Francisca Vier in Germany:

German army commences recruitment in schools

9 August 2011

In line with the plans to create a full time professional army in Germany, military conscription came to an end on July 1, 2011. This has immediately created a huge problem for the Bundeswehr (federal armed forces).

Only 433 men and women had enrolled by April 1 this year, although 2,000 recruits are needed every quarter year. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, only 4,000 of 160,000 potential recruits responded to letters enquiring whether they were interested in joining the army—even though such replies would in no way have amounted of a commitment.

The Bundeswehr and defence ministry are responding to this lack of military personnel with a steady militarisation of society. They have initiated an extensive advertising campaign to boost the recruitment of young people, working hand-in-hand with radio, television, the press and other online media, as well as increasing their presence at trade fairs and public festivals.

The Militarisation Information Agency draws attention on its homepage to the “significantly increased expenditure” in this area. The federal defence ministry has developed a comprehensive “package of measures to make service in the armed forces appear more attractive.”

The long-standing practice of organising promotional events with official representatives from the sphere of the school education has also been expanded. The education and culture ministries of eight federal states have recently concluded the appropriate cooperation agreements with the Bundeswehr. The “youth relations officer” in the classroom, “discussing” security and human rights issues with juvenile pupils, is increasingly becoming part of the curriculum.

As acknowledged a few weeks ago, the army has been organising and conducting secret seminars for young people, providing the funding and determining the content, but without officially revealing itself as the actual sponsor.

According to Frankfurter Rundschau, the target audiences consist of the so-called “opinion leaders”: “student representatives, student newspaper editors, web editors of school home pages, as well as youth representatives in companies, scouting organisations, sports clubs, political parties, charity groups and churches”—all of whom are seen by the army as “multipliers.” It is supposed that they will pass on the acquired knowledge to others, and thus spread the message throughout the population.

The official organiser of these seminars is the Berlin firm, Young Leaders Ltd., whose website is full of appeals in a trendy business English, without featuring or mentioning the Bundeswehr even in a rudimentary way. The site thus informs: “We offer a forum to the decision makers of tomorrow and the opportunity to make contact with firms, institutions, scientists, journalists and politicians. The opportunity to exchange views and to build a substantiated opinion”.

The press and information department of the defence ministry has since confirmed not only that it finances the seminars of Young Leaders Ltd., but it also determines their subject matter. Apparently, however, the seminar participants are not informed about this. The Frankfurter Rundschau claims that about twelve seminars and four “large youth press conferences” are held annually.

The seminars cover broad-ranging topics and last up to three days. They begin with fairly general social issues about “economics, ethics and the media.” In this context, matters concerning security, foreign policy and the Bundeswehr are then brought into the discussion. In addition to themes such as human dignity, abortion and euthanasia, the issue of Islam is discussed. According to the first-hand experience of one participant, the Bundeswehr itself then takes the stage and “informs us about how safely we live in Germany, and what dangers we can expect to encounter nowadays in the 21st century.”

Remembering the contents of the defence ministry’s 20-page “Defence Policy Guidelines,” in which the invocation of global threat is accompanied by ideas about the “need for national self-assertion,” one realises the seminar discussions are obviously aimed at legitimising the new German defence policy, and especially the current and potential military deployments of the Bundeswehr. The seminars are therefore designed to be very creative in their appeal to young people. Participants produce their own news broadcasts in the form of radio and television spots.

That the army’s responsibility for these seminars was not accidental—as claimed by Stefan Paris, head of the defence ministry’s press and information office—but a deliberately and elaborately kept secret, can be inferred from the Bundeswehr’s own records. Quoting from these, the Berliner Zeitung reported that this practice was aimed at winning over the “participants who were sceptical of the military”. To avoid deterring this kind of youngster, the army was quite willing to employ such highly dubious practices.

It is true that the Bundeswehr operates more openly in the schools. However, similar methods are practised by the full-time officers involved in youth relations and specially trained to conduct “information sessions.” …

Like the US army, the Bundeswehr is deliberately exploiting the precarious social situation of young people. According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, many young people come to the army, discouraged by their experience on the labour market and bleak prospects of ever finding a job. This is also evident in eastern Germany, where many regions have been devastated by high unemployment and poverty. The Bundeswehr becomes a “sought-after employer” for young people deprived of any prospect for pursuing a livelihood.

The decision by the German Constitutional Court to allow the Army to carry out domestic military operations marks a turning point in the history of the Federal Republic: here.

USA: Child Labor Rules Stalled At White House As Farm Accidents Continue: here.

Obama: Still Letting Child Soldiers Be Soldiers: here.

Obama Backs Military Aid to Countries That Use Child Soldiers. Jim Lobe, AlterNet: “For the second year in a row, U.S. President Barack Obama has waived a Congressionally-mandated ban on military aid for four countries that use child soldiers”: here.

British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has called on the German government to play a more active role in Western military adventures abroad: here.

12 thoughts on “German army recruits child soldiers

  1. Administrator on September 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm said:

    Draft law doubles war compensation

    Germany: Ministers approved a draft law on Wednesday which could nearly double the financial compensation that injured or traumatised soldiers are entitled to.

    Bundeswehr personnel who suffer serious injuries while deployed abroad will get €150,000 (£132,000) in compensation if the legislation is approved by parliament, instead of the current maximum of €80,000 (£70,500).

    With Germany’s armed forces increasingly involved in foreign interventions the number of injured and traumatised soldiers has been growing for years.


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