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Majority of Germans want to end conscription

DDP/The Local · 8 Aug 2010, 16:05

Published: 08 Aug 2010 16:05 GMT+02:00

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A new Emnid opinion poll, commissioned by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper says that 63 percent of Germans support an end to compulsory national service.

Even 58 percent of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voters – the party most keen to hang on to conscription – agree that military service is out of date. Only 33 percent of Germans would like to see it continue.

An end to military service would also mean an end to civilian national service, where young men spend six months as carers or working in hospitals. Despite concerns about a shortfall in the workforce, the German association for conscientious objectors (KDV) says ending conscription would have little or no effect on the supply of workers in these institutions.

The association, which is headed by Margot Käßmann, the former head of the Protestant church in Germany, pointed out in a press statement that conscientious objectors make up barely one percent of the workforce in extended care. Only 40,000 conscientious objectors are currently working, 105,000 less than in 1999.

Defence Minister Guttenberg, of the Christian Social Union (CSU), wants to reform Germany's military, getting rid of conscription mainly because of its expense and its lack of military use. The opposition Social Democratic Party has already said it would support the measure.

But there is still much resistance to the idea within the CSU and its sister party the CDU. The state premier of Lower Saxony David McAllister said conscription was a core principle of his centre-right party, and it promoted the exchange of civilian society and the military.

Story continues below…

Germany is one of the last European countries to still have conscription.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:48 August 8, 2010 by snorge
Mitlitary service is what shows you your abilities and for many, who they really are. In many countries, it is a rites of passage into manhood.

It's a shame Germany is thinking of getting rid of it.
18:30 August 8, 2010 by wenddiver
Gee Kid, what do you need an Army for? I mean the Russians behaving badly in Georgia and the Ukraine is probably just a fluke!

The world is a peaceful, quiet place with a lot of respect for the disarmed and stupid, besides war has never come to Europe before and even if it did, what are the chances that Germany would be involved, being right in the center of Europe.

Seems kind of silly to be defending the greatest Freedom and wealth Germany has ever experienced, when you could lose it all by dis-arming. Everybody remembers the great job the professional military did in the 1930s stopping anti-democracy extremists from coming to power.
19:39 August 8, 2010 by ngwanem

i guess i now know why Europe had fought bloody wars in the past centuries. rite of passage into manhood? when did becoming a soldier a way of proving manhood?


we don't need a lot of soldiers in the world, we need more peace-loving politicians... if you want to stop armed conflicts, tell politicians to pick up arms or send their sons and daughters.... until then sending the children of other people to conflicts always sound easy because at the end of the day, who gains from the spoils of war?

the idea of having soldiers is to protect national integrity and some politicians managed to twist this logic to imply protecting national interests ABROAD. i don't know how NATIONAL is that abroad but i know for sure those so-called interests are more exclusive for a certain set of individuals at the expense of other fellows to die, protecting these!
20:17 August 8, 2010 by 9900lawre
Something to be said about a Defence Force rather than an Army.

When Germany or other nations become Defence Forces not Armies then i don't believe that anyone would object to a National service.

Yet again never mind the hippy comments of many the real reason for scrapping it is money.
22:25 August 8, 2010 by snorge

If you have to ask, then you have no clue. Did you go into the Army? Sounds like you didn't...
23:58 August 8, 2010 by mikecowler
End of compulsive armed forces conscription will push unemployment up obviously....social issues are what are the unemployed going to do, that have no trade skill, that can,t find work? No one for sure seems to have thought about this side of the argument?

Compulsive armed forces conscription i think is a good thing to have if your going to teach a trade worthy of use outside the military and discipline to the conscript...

Personally i would rather pay taxes for compulsive armed forces conscripts instead of unemployed louts causing crime and taking drugs, obviously the majority see it differently...
01:58 August 9, 2010 by wenddiver
@neoconhysteria- Actually it was the Grandfathers who were complete noodles, these guys are OK. Germany can be proud of these guys. The point is to create a Army to defend Freedom in the Nation and if necessary abroad, not re-create the murder zombies of 1942.

Trust me the German Army of the Early 1940s is not missed.
02:30 August 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I believe that what the majority of Germans really wants is an end to Germany's involvement in Afghanistan. This discussion would be more tempered if Germany followed the Dutch example and pulled its troops out. Then the bigger picture of conscription could be debated in a broader and more rational context. So long as German soldiers are dying for a hopeless cause the overall policy and defense issues of ending conscription will not be adequately addressed.
06:59 August 9, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
I'm starting to think that this might actually be von und zu Guttenberg's real effort at reforming the core of the german military. I understand the reasoning. The man is married to the great-great-granddaughter of Generalmajor von Bismarck, and he runs in the same circles. He's also a Reichsfreiherr, so he's basically a Bavarian Junker. He wants a strong, central, professional core for the german military - and I do, too. But getting rid of conscription is just a terrible idea considering our geography and the political climate in the Balkans and Caucasus; and I mean this in terms of decades and centuries, not years.
09:18 August 9, 2010 by moistvelvet

"End of compulsive armed forces conscription will push unemployment up obviously....social issues are what are the unemployed going to do, that have no trade skill, that can,t find work? No one for sure seems to have thought about this side of the argument?"

What is the difference between giving conscripts a decent wage for a useless job, of which they don't pay tax in return, and giving the unemployed benefits to sit on their butts? These conscripts are an outdated solution, they are barely skilled as soldiers let alone anything worthwhile in civilian employment. If it really does have any benefit to society then they should either stop wasting money on a system that descriminates women, or they should accept the nostalgic pointless waste that it really is.
09:27 August 9, 2010 by freechoice
what? end to conscription? who is going to defend Germany when some right wing extremists take power in our neighbouring country?
11:27 August 9, 2010 by moistvelvet
@freechoice, you are having a laugh aren't you? Well I sincerely hope it won't be down to the undertrained conscripts, give me a pitch fork and I'll take my chances myself rather than rely on them. Actually why not deploy the Schuetzen, the sight of this formidable light ale brigade will give any opposing force a pause for thought :-D

Besides a "neighbouring country" regardless of government will always be an ally to Germany, haven't you heard we are all European now and the nationalism, borders and differences that led to the conlflicts last century have been removed.
14:23 August 9, 2010 by NYsteve
Let me first say that I am one of the most peace-loving people around....the waste and expense of war is one of the stupidest things known to mankind....that being said, I still believe there is and always be a need for s "standing army"....history has proved that time and time again and unfortunately...it will prove it self again...it's just the way of humans. I thought there was talk/plans of a European Military?.....to me that makes the most sense....Maybe have a min. 3 year term of service...all countries wear one uniform and the needs of defense...whatever that may be...will be met.....if the soldiers are gainfully employed, unlike the Youtube vidoes I saw....they do learn a valuable trade.....I for one would LOVE to believe that the military is no longer needed, but I would be delusional to believe that......someone out there is always going to be unhappy with someone else, some country is always unhappy with another country....and I'll be the first to say that the US is guilty of this.....we are very far from perfect.
19:39 August 9, 2010 by wenddiver
NYSTEVE is only speaking for regular Americans, most of us whose ancestors immigrated from Saxony and Prussia are still perfect. Just wanted to clarify that.
21:02 August 9, 2010 by NYsteve
LMAO @ wendiver!!!

and a few of us with Polish ancestors from Galicia.....everyone else are just "Regular Americans"!!!!
23:00 August 9, 2010 by mikecowler

Where have you been for the last 10 years locked in solitary...your statement about Afghanistan is similar to a "one legged man in an arse kicking contest"...of course Germany should jointly fight against terrorism jointly with it,s allies in Afghanistan and help to try and rebuild the country so it can police against terrorism...obviously you may think its all the yanks fault but its not....

@ moistvelvet

Im not against women in the Bundeswehr and a minimum conscription of 3 years seems good to me....like i said longer the idle and dont want to work layabouts are kept of the steets the better...but regular long serving proffesional regiments staying on longer than 3 years should be given more privledges with higher pay...its a case of making compusory conscription fair and worth it...not scrapping it!
02:25 August 10, 2010 by Prufrock2010
MikeCowler --

I've been living in the real world for the past 65 years. Where have you been? Nation building? How has that worked out for you and the rest of the world? I guess we're seeing all the fruitages of it now, aren't we? Iraq, Aghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatamala, Chile, Peru, Colombia.... Jesus, the list is endless. How about iran next? And Syria and Lebanon? They could use some nation building. Let's not forget North Korea and Burma. I guess we have our nation building work to do.
09:26 August 10, 2010 by mhgoats
The conscription should continue but with men AND women. I would love to see it in the USA. It takes young people out of whatever social settings they are in, good or bad, and hopefully makes most of them grow up to become worthy and good contributers in society.
09:33 August 10, 2010 by moistvelvet

If women were conscripted it would be fair, if conscription were extended to 2-3 years so they could be trained properly and come out with some trade then it would be worthwhile. I mean Germans are quite happy to have kids serve 2-3 year apprentiships in an office to learn how to use a stapler, but somehow think 6 months is enought to become a reserve "soldier"!

However higher pay I do not agree with, as they don't pay tax I think they are on a nice little earner for what they do as it is.
15:30 August 10, 2010 by hOU
The sooner conscription ends the sooner Germany's armed forces can be filled w/ people who want to be there. F*ck fighting wars that don't exist against my will.

Take a peek across the water. Has Britain crumbled without conscription? Have they spurned international duties through lack of willing men & women? It has greater issues finding people fit enough to pass a basic military medical ...

Get real.
18:53 August 10, 2010 by sorochin
@mhgoats: how does training young people to kill and destroy make them better contibutors to society?

I would love not to see it in the USA.
21:47 August 10, 2010 by colombowayne
People want to believe that all people are good. That simply is not true. Soldiers are trained to defend against those who will do you harm. The world is a dangerous place. Peace through strength. Be prepared or pay the price. You will have to explain to your children and or grand children why they have no freedom. Freedom isn't free. If the US was to drop out of NATO you would all be singing a different tune. Read world history, and if that doesn't convince you the need for a military than you are one of those people who will be protected by the sacrafice of better men and woman than yourself.
22:23 August 10, 2010 by wenddiver
@colombowayne- Well said, there will always be jerks in the world and as long as the West has good Armies to keep them face down with a combat boot on the back of their neck and a rifle muzzle on the back of their skull, until we can get them in a cage, all our famiies will sleep better.
00:29 August 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"Soldiers are trained to defend against those who will do you harm."

Yep. Ask the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Sudanese, the Congolese, ad infinitum. They will all tell you that they are only defending against those who would do them harm. The Japanese, Germans and Italians said that in World War II. The Americans said it in Vietnam and Iraq and Panama and Grenada and Iraq again and Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Israelis live by that credo. That begs the question: who is doing the harm and who is doing the good? You must answer that question before you skate out onto the thin ice of "peace through strength." You have implied a moral equivalence among military cultures that simply doesn't exist, and you have at the same time exalted the Americans to the fallacious role of protectors of all that is good and just in the world. You can't have it both ways.

wenddiver -- I agree that some people need to be in a cage, particularly those who advocate a world in which armies dominate with a combat boot on the back of somebody's neck and a rifle muzzle on the back of somebody's skull. We've seen that movie before. It didn't turn out too well.
00:50 August 11, 2010 by wenddiver
@Prufoc- Sure let the world be run by some crazy third worlder in a General's costume, advocating the destruction of America and Europe once he finishes killing the minorities in his country,because of the mindless rambling of Marx or the voice of Allah they here in their head, that should work. Let me guess you were using your medical marijuana Card today????

At least you have a plan!!!
06:06 August 11, 2010 by sorochin
Gosh, some of you are real jingoistic cementheads. I hope you keep these medieval opinions to yourselves when you're around the indigenous population. The last thing we need is even more people thinking Americans are bullying morons.
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