Hundreds seek to leave the German army

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 2 Aug, 2016 Updated Tue 2 Aug 2016 15:49 CEST
Hundreds seek to leave the German army

In the past two years, nearly 500 soldiers have requested to leave Germany's voluntary armed forces for reasons of conscience.


In 2011 conscription was abolished in Germany and the Bundeswehr (German army) became a purely voluntary force.

Nevertheless hundreds of soldiers who have chosen to join the military have since had a change of heart.

Between 2014 and 2016, 62 female soldiers and 407 male soldiers submitted requests to leave the Bundeswehr on conscientious objections, reported the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

The figures came from a response by the German government to an inquiry by the Left (Linke) party, who believe that the decisions relate to the realities of combat.

“Combat situations are often revelatory moments in which the risk of a soldier's career - of killing or being killed is often realized for the first time and then experienced in its full scope,” said Left party Bundeswehr expert Katrin Kunert to the newspaper.

Since the middle of 2014, 644 applications, including from previous months, were processed by the German Ministry for Family and Civil Affairs. Of those, 67 percent ended in approval, 25 percent in rejection and 8 percent were considered either inadmissible or withdrawn.

The highest proportion of applicants to leave were under the rank of corporal and are more often on the front lines, the newspaper said.

And leaving the army can be expensive: For 153 officers that left, the Bundeswehr demanded back in total €5.6 million in training costs, ranging from €1,200 to €69,000 per case. The government also asked that 83 lower ranking officers or cadets return a total of about €400,000.

Germany has struggled to entice new recruits since putting an end to conscription, but in recent years has tried to boost numbers and spending.


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