Bundeswehr sends off Schneiderhan amid Afghanistan scandal
The Bundeswehr on Thursday night gave a traditional send off Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan after he resigned as chief of staff following revelations that the Defence Ministry withheld information about civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
The ceremony, known as a Zapfenstreich, also honoured a high-ranking Defence Ministry official, Peter Wichert, who resigned along with Schneiderhan.
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg announced the 63-year-old general's resignation last week and promised there would be further investigation of the controversial September bombardment which took place in early September. NATO reports have placed the combined death toll of civilians and insurgents at more than 140.
Two days after Schneiderhan and Wichert stepped down, former Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung resigned from his new post as labour minister. Jung reportedly was also aware of the withheld information about the air strike ordered by Bundeswehr Col. Georg Klein.
Schneiderhan joined the Bundeswehr in 1966 and had served as chief of staff since 2002. Wichert had worked in the Defence Ministry since 1989.
On Thursday, Defence Minister Guttenberg told parliament that the air strike to destroy two fuel trucks hijacked by the Taliban was ‘not militarily appropriate’ and acknowledged it had been a mistake. But he also said that Klein had faced “warlike circumstances” when deciding to call the air strike, therefore he would not let him take the fall for the incident.
German lawmakers voted on Wednesday to open a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.