No, Germany is not implementing compulsory community service for refugees

Daniel Wighton
Daniel Wighton - [email protected]
No, Germany is not implementing compulsory community service for refugees
Photo: DPA

Refugees who seek to live in Germany will not be required to perform compulsory military or community service - at least not yet.


While the debate around the re-introduction of compulsory service in Germany has again simmered to the surface in recent months - including a discussion as to whether it should be extended to encompass newly arrived refugees and migrants - it appears some international publications have jumped the gun by suggesting conscription has been re-introduced across the country. 

The Times of London reported on Monday that the German government had finalised plans to “introduce one year of compulsory community service for all refugees living in the country”. 

The article went on to say “the plan would be part of a new national service scheme for all German men and women with the aim of helping asylum seekers to integrate and become more accepted. Mrs Merkel’s plan has the objective of fostering national cohesion after a period of political uncertainty and the rise of populist and nationalist right-wingers.” 

But the Chancellery (Kanzleramt) confirmed to The Local that despite an ongoing political debate on the issue, no such measures had been introduced. Chancellor Angela Merkel told German broadcaster ARD on Sunday evening that while she supported the ongoing debate and understood its merits, no such plan had been devised. 

“I do not want to reintroduce conscription”, Merkel said. 

As The Local reported earlier in the month, compulsory military and community service has been abolished in Germany since 2011. Formerly all young men were required to serve either in the German armed forces or to perform community service for one year. The nature of the community service would vary, but usually involved placements in nursing homes or other care facilities. 

While conscription remains off the books, politicians from the right of the political spectrum have argued for it to be reintroduced and extended to cover young women and refugees. The General Secretary of the CDU Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer argued that such a plan might lead to increasing acceptance of refugees among the German populace, while also solving labour shortages in the care sector and improving recruitment in the military.  

Chancellor Merkel disagreed however, saying that she wouldn’t approve of conscription for these reasons alone - saying doing so would amount to a temporary measure. 

“The party will continue to discuss the topic of how to improve social services, however we won’t be pursuing any stopgap measures”, Merkel said. 

“The nature of the modern military has also changed, meaning that (the reintroduction of conscription) is not the solution”. 

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