• Germany's news in English

Investigations of soldiers deployed abroad surge

The Local · 30 Jan 2012, 12:00

Published: 30 Jan 2012 12:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In 15 cases last year, the allegations were so serious that criminal charges were actually filed, according to statistics from the defence and justice ministries seen by the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

The new numbers come as concern rises that Bundeswehr soldiers have been seriously traumatised while serving on military missions abroad, which experts believe can be a contributing factor in criminal conduct.

Last year 922 soldiers, 759 of whom served in Afghanistan, were classified as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by the military – a 26 percent increase over 2010.

Although prosecution of Bundeswehr soldiers still fall under civilian courts, the government has also proposed centralising investigation and prosecution in Bavaria, in order to increase efficiency.

Germany’s roughly 5,000 soldiers have faced fewer accusations of criminal conduct than troops from other countries, such as the United States, but a spate of incidents have put them in the spotlight in recent months.

In May, officials said they were investigating whether soldiers were justified in shooting demonstrators during an allegedly violent protest.

Story continues below…

And in September, a soldier was convicted of shooting a colleague dead in an apparent prank gone wrong.

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:51 January 30, 2012 by Joseph Thomas
Not to detract from the seriousness of the criminal conduct regardless of the nationality of a soldier, but I'm wondering if the 15 cases out of 5,000 is a higher or lower rate of this issue than the cases out of the hundreds of thousands of troops from the US. It's a problem regardless, and an embarrassment to the efforts of all the good soldiers worldwide, especially the ones working to assist. There is criminal behavior in every profession, sadly. I guess the total number for the US will drop as the US troops available will continue plummeting in the next 15 years. The world will expect more from Europe and Asia, which is a whole new topic.
16:01 January 30, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Lets face it, if a German soldier deployed to another country publicly farts then politicians looking for some face time in the media will be foaming at the mouth, the Greens will by jumping up and down in ecstasy at the prospect of trying to make a scandal out of it and the poor soldier will be splashed across the from of the Bild as they try and get a pint of blood out of the story.
18:02 January 30, 2012 by heyheyhey

How dare you minimize the seriousness of this issue?

It would appear that perhaps these German troops have taken lessons from the bad US troops? I am certain that you do understand that this could be happening. This type of mentality could be easily contagious in this setting.

The US has set a very bad example to the rest of the world with regard to how the enemy is treated. I am certain that some German troops read about that and we're impacted.
18:41 January 30, 2012 by Wise Up!
To heyheyhey and larrysela

You don¦#39;t know what the charges are so how can you give any validity to them?

For all you know, this could be politically motivated to effect Germany¦#39;s involvement in Afghanistan. But perhaps you already know that.....
19:21 January 30, 2012 by Landmine
So, of the 922 soldiers, 759 served in Afgahnistan and have PTSD, why did the other 163 which one would assume did not serve in Afgahnistan have PTSD? Something is missing in that statement...


I think the "bad soldier" example was set by none other than your German troops 60 or so years ago... I would not go calling the kettle black when your own history has very clearly proven your Army did worse in WWII...
19:23 January 30, 2012 by Illogicbuster
The U.S. went through this in the 60's & early 70's. If Germany moved to an all volunteer military, this problem would pretty much go away.
20:11 January 30, 2012 by The-ex-pat

I have done my time in hot sandy places......twice. I understand a whole lot more than you could every comprehend. As pointed out there is no information about the charges or acts and yet you have it down that each soldier has committed mass murder. As I said, German troops in a foreign country are under the microscope from their own landsmen who take great delight in turning every point into a national debate regardless of what the "crime" is. That was my point. Whether it is a discharged weapon or one soldier has stolen from the other, they are all put into the same barrel marked war crimes!
20:20 January 30, 2012 by raandy
Having some experience in hostile places , with no real "what are we here for reason, you begin to ask who cares and it all goes down hill from there.
21:51 January 30, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Illogicbuster

"If Germany moved to an all volunteer military, this problem would pretty much go away." - they already did, but apparently the problem is still here.

@ Landmine

Bundeswehr is operating not only in Afganistan, but also in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Horn of Africa, Sudan and Lebanon. So plenty of opportunities to get a PTSD.

You might also want to differentiate between Wehrmacht und Gestapo/Waffen-SS.
02:25 January 31, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Its not fair to those who serve in the military to send them to awful places like Afghanastan , witness horrors with their lives on the line, and tell them to be good little boys and girls. Not realistic.
03:53 January 31, 2012 by volvoman9
Are we perhaps missing the point here. To imagine that there are rules in a theater of combat is nonsense. It is a construct that those at home comfort themselves with. "Oh our boys are the good ones." Get real. Atrocities always occur in combat. Always have and always will.

Not until the human animal realizes that wars are an exhibition of the basest of the human instinct with all that accompanies it will we begin to understand. To put young men and women in a situation such as this and expect a different outcome is delusional. Want to end atrocity? End Wars.
07:08 January 31, 2012 by heyheyhey

Perhaps you should again read my post, as reading comprehension seems to be a weakness of yours. Perhaps, since you have only been in hot sandy places twice you are not yet experienced enough to understand my point. If mass murder is what you read in my post then that is where you live in your mind. Is that what you were? Tell me about your two opportunities in hot sandy places and perhaps it will be more visible to all why you think and react as you do.

Yes, American soldiers have set an extremely bad sample in these two most recent wars. Somehow you believed that you were entitled to treat your enemy poorly. Did you expect to get away with it?

I wholeheartedly agree with volvoman9 that we must end wars as the human animal needs very little permission or opportunity before it commits atrocities. And we think we are better than animals! Of course, but only because we will not look at the ugliness that lives inside.
13:26 February 1, 2012 by Texas_to_GE
One of the bigger issues here is being entirely missed. What government starts 2 wars then begins the biggest experiment of endurance at keeping men and women under extreme stress of combat for nearly a decade? Just some of the facts:According to the last US census, the United States is comprised of over 300 million citizens. In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam, 4.3% served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror.

These 0.45% are the targets of increasing scrutiny. They work 60+ hour workweeks ­ longer in combat zones. Their bodies and minds are beaten and battered. They endure extremely long absences from their families. They miss births, deaths, anniversaries and family milestones.

And now these walking "trip wires" are starting to self implode taking those in proximity with them through crime when they return, with just a short time to integrate back into society. I'm not making excuses for them, but if this decade long opportunity to see/study what the horror of war can do to people in any nation...we will never learn why there should never be the thought of or the word WAR ever spoken again. Sadly, we seem to have become a nation of serial war fighters!

I'm also a Gulf War Veteran, which was no where as intense as what these young men and women in American or German uniforms have experienced!
16:49 February 1, 2012 by raandy
Afganistan is a black hole. When the last Nato member leaves that sh^t hole ,it will revert back to what it has always been. The Taliban will rule.

Best way to solve the problem is to pack up and get out.
Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd