• Germany's news in English
 
German military to get US-style Veterans' Day
Photo: DPA

German military to get US-style Veterans' Day

Published: 04 Apr 2012 10:34 GMT+02:00

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière has proposed May 22 as an annual Veterans’ Day to honour former soldiers, both living and dead.

“Against the background of our operations and the questions they pose our society, it is time to speak objectively and openly about our veterans’ policy,” de Maizière wrote in his proposal.

He originally suggested using the Volkstrauertag in November, a public day of mourning which takes place in Germany two Sundays before the first Advent Sunday, intended to mourn war victims and the victims of dictatorship around the world. But this idea received widespread opposition across the country.

But the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) has criticized the idea. “I’m sceptical whether there can be a day that really reaches society,” SPD defence spokesman Rainer Arnold told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The socialist Left party was even less impressed with the plan. “If the defence minister wants to do something for former soldiers, he should get some money and improve their social security, instead of invoking some cheap ‘ideal honour,’ “ commented Left defence spokesman Paul Schäfer.

The Green Party was equally scathing. Their defense expert Omid Nouripour called the Veterans Day nothing but a “fig-leaf” for a minister who is “avoiding his core duties.”

He condemned the Veterans’ Day as “superfluous,” unless it was used to open a national debate on the purpose of military operations abroad, and also honoured the work of development workers and diplomats in foreign countries.

Germany’s first foreign military mission since World War II took place in 1991 when they made a minor contribution in the second Gulf War. Since then 300,000 German soldiers have been in action abroad and over 100 have lost their lives.

The Local/DPA/DAPD/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:42 April 4, 2012 by wood artist
While I would be amongst the first to agree that Germany's military history is unlike most other nations, those who have served their country very often have little to say about such things. For the most part, soldiers of all nations are honorable people, asked to take on impossible tasks and risking their lives. Every country has participated in wars that were questionable at best. Every military has experienced times when soldiers did things far outside the "rules" such as they are.

In the US there is traditionally a question about whether you can support the troops while disagreeing with the war itself. That was true in Vietnam and in Iraq, and remains true today in Afghanistan. I'm sure that attitude was present in earlier wars also, and WWI was seen by many as "Europe's Problem" and not an issue for US participation.

Personally, I have no problem with Germany recognizing the sacrifices that the country's military have made over the years. It takes nothing away from the men who carried the day at Waterloo to, at the same time, acknowledge that other times and other battles were "different." The bulk of the men who died defending Germany were no less men.

Maybe this is a chance to remember their sacrifices, and the events that led the country to embark on the adventures that necessitated them. Those who have participated in war seldom have a desire to do it again. Remembering that is worth it.

wa
11:53 April 4, 2012 by starsh3ro
nobody needs a day like this.
12:14 April 4, 2012 by The-ex-pat
This will be a black and white for or against subject. All I can say, is if you have never served you will never have a true understanding either way.
12:23 April 4, 2012 by Zobirdie
Well said, Wood Artist!

Soldiers go to fight and die where they are told. They don't have the option of saying 'Nope. Not today... I am not in the mood.' They don't always agree in the ideology of the government they serve but they do their job.

They deserve to be properly honoured for their sacrifice. The dead are apolitical. They are dead and deserve to be remembered.
13:12 April 4, 2012 by ChrisRea
Well, I guess we should have then special national days for all jobs that can be deadly. They took the job knowing that there people that died while earning a buck. And they all brought their contribution, smaller or bigger, to the country. So "Professional Athletes' Day" (Sport ist Mord), "Police Workers' Day", "Construction Workers' Day" and so on ...
14:27 April 4, 2012 by Major B
Is for the German people to decide.

Why not honor the soldiers who put their lives on the line for their country, especially the last 10 years, and complete the circle of healing from the past?
15:22 April 4, 2012 by auslanderus
As a vet from the USA, I agree that Germany needs to honor the men that served in there military in the past and future. The key word is honor. Men have died and wounded and need to know there country is/are proud of there service and this is one form of saying thank you and the cry babies can stay home with there beer.
16:04 April 4, 2012 by Herr Ed
Well said, wood artist. Those who choose the profession of arms take an oath to follow the orders of those elected or appointed over them. Wars may be political, but the average grunt on the ground has two goals - to complete the mission he's given to the best of his ability, and to try and ensure that he and his fellow soldiers get to go home to their families when it's all over.

ChrisRea - I'll support a Professional Athletes' Day when people start shooting at them from the stands to stop them from scoring. As for a day recognizing those who serve and protect as police or firefighters, they deserve that recognition as well.
16:44 April 4, 2012 by Bluecrane
As a USA vet I find one of the proudest moments I've had as a citizen is when Reagan visited that cemetary in Bitburg and placed a wreath for both American and German soldiers buried there.

We don't have a choice what country we're born into. If I were 20 years old in 1940 and lived in Germany, I would have served in the German Army. Had I been a citizen of North Viet Nam in the late 1960s I would have served in that military.
16:52 April 4, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Herr Ed

"when people start shooting at them from the stands to stop them from scoring." - you mean when the athletes are fully armed and use tanks? :)

German athletes achieve things that serve as a source of inspiration. If a Bundeswehr veteran is asked by his children if he defended the country, all he can say is that he was actually always on the aggressive side, in pointless wars like the Second Gulf War and Afghanistan, against countries that did nothing against Germany or the military alliance Germany belonged to. Quite a good reason for a big yearly celebration, isn't it?

For your information, it is more probable to die as a German driver than as a German soldier. But you would not support a Drivers' Day, do you?
18:51 April 4, 2012 by jmclewis
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:38 April 5, 2012 by raandy
WA ,Nice comment .

the argument that germany should put more money in to improve Social Security instead of a ay of recognition for the military.

Why not do both?
10:45 April 5, 2012 by prussian grenadier
Throughout history, Germany's sons have fought valiantly, suffered and died like the soldier's of any other nation. They did not ask if the politics of the time was right or wrong, they just answered their nation's call. Whether it was 1813, 1870, 1914, 1945 or 2012, they did their job, and their sacrifice was no less honorable than any other solider from any other nation. They most certainly deserve to be remembered, and to be honored as any solider does.
16:40 April 5, 2012 by kangaruh
After suspending conscription in a witless, planless rush (thank you Guttenberg, wherever you may be), the Bundeswehr is having trouble attracting volunteers. I'd suggest that now some marketing consultant has recommended inaugurating a "Veterans' Day" to increase the Bundeswehr's attraction for impressionable 20 year olds. Everybody loves a good Fackel... And you all think it's about honouring soldiers? It's just an advertising ploy for a branch of the civil service. If it is introduced, it will be comprehensively ignored.
21:37 April 5, 2012 by AJS
Long overdue!

Soldiers of any army who fight honorably deserve such recognition.
22:49 April 5, 2012 by Karlischnarli
Any soldier willing or forced to die for his or her country, even if the country loses the war should be appreciated, respected, and celebrated
06:37 April 6, 2012 by volvoman9
@ Chango Mutney. Well I must say everything about your rant simply screams Pommy. I was at school with your ilk. Sad little blokes still insisting that in fact it was the was the Brits that single-handedly brought Hitler to his knees. The rest of the world especially those Yanks, were simply in the way. I suppose you slept through most of your history lesson about the golden years of the Empire and the means by which it created the vaunted Commonwealth. Not a pretty tale as I recall. A nation bent on world domination and the demise of so many more primitive defenseless cultures. Hmmm. Come to think of it this theme sounds familiar. All it lacked was a villain of stature. Of course Palmerston does come to mind.

Even more prevalent with your mindset is the curious habit of habitually allying with the very country that you choose to vilify in so many of their ill fated excursions of late. What's up with that then Laddie Buck?
16:11 April 11, 2012 by Harry Grouse
The German soldier served his country and gave his life for future generations. So yes they deserve a day to be honoured
Today's headlines
Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany
Joachim Löw holding the World Cup trophy. File photo: DPA

Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany

World Cup winners Germany have suffered something of a hangover since their triumph in Brazil, but coach Joachim Löw is hoping a new-look side can go on to claim more glory at Euro 2016. READ  

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges
Photo: DPA

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges

German mobile phone company T-Mobile has agreed to pay at least $90 million to settle US government claims that it bilked customers with bogus charges, US regulators said Friday. READ  

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,228
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd