Bundeswehr: Armed forces of Germany - and the Legacy of the Wehrmacht and the Nazi era.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
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Interview with Ewald von Kleist, the last surviving member of the July 20, 1944 plot against Hitler
Ewald von Kleist, a Wehrmacht officer and the last living member of the July 20, 1944 plot against Hitler, talks about Germany`s elimination of conscription, why modern German soldiers serving in the Bundeswehr need to toughen up and his attempt to kill Adolf Hitler with explosives at an event to show a new uniform.
"We`re training our soldiers with a great deal of gentleness... Things are more difficult for them when push comes to shove... You obviously have to kill when you go to war. But if you have a machine gun and I have a club, and you, being a softy, say that you don`t want to hurt me, I`m the superior one because I just want to smash your skull in."
"We were supposed to show Hitler new uniforms that had been tried out on the front. I was the company leader. I wanted to take along a mine or plastic explosives in my briefcase, which I planned to detonate when I was standing next to Hitler."
New Iron Cross: Germany awards new medal for bravery, the first granted since WWII
4 German soldiers were granted the country`s new medal for bravery, the Cross of Honour for Bravery. It features a golden Maltese cross with an eagle in the centre, held on a black, red and gold ribbon with oak leaves. It is the Bundeswehr`s first bravery decoration since the Iron Cross was avoided due to its WWII and Nazi links. Before the creation of the Cross of Honour for Bravery, the Bundeswehr`s decorations were given only for "loyal services and in appreciation of exemplary soldierly acquittal of duty". The Iron Cross was created as a Prussian military honour in 1813. The medal was later awarded to German servicemen in WWI and WWII.
Bloodstained Edelweiss by historian Hermann Frank Meyer
Adolf Hitler`s elite mountain troops decorated their green uniforms and helmets with an edelweiss emblem. But Hermann Frank Meyer argues in "Bloodstained Edelweiss" that the 1st Mountain Division of the Wehrmacht defiled the symbol`s purity with war crimes - and the edelweiss blossoms that decorate the uniforms of the German Bundeswehr are bloodstained. "During the Russian campaign, they got used to killing," said Meyer, who says that the 1st Mountain Division killed up to 60,000 people in Russia. By the time the elite force was relocated to the Balkans, after losing 80% of its men, it was brutalized.
Germany discusses return of the Iron Cross - Too burdened by Nazi past
Ernst-Reinhard Beck, leader of German military reservists and member of parliament, has called for the reintroduction of the Iron Cross. But some say the medal has too much nazi past. When it was introduced in the 1800s, the Iron Cross was meant to reward soldiers for heroism on the field of battle. It was a medal not much different from the Congressional Medal of Honor granted to US soldiers. But in World War II, the medal came to symbolize the Nazis, and after the war it disappeared. Today there is an "honor cross" for very loyal soldiers, but courage on the battlefield goes unrewarded in the Bundeswehr.
Germany`s Bundeswehr Steps out on the Global Stage
For decades the German military has sought international recognition, with growing success. Today German troops are fighting around the world - for peace. In their new "interventionist" role, they are preparing for increasingly hazardous missions. What it`s like being a German soldier: belonging to a repeatedly misunderstood minority, under constant suspicion of still trying to win WWII. The year 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bundeswehr. The war had only been over 10 years at the time of its founding. Several thousand members of Hitler`s Wehrmacht were still starving in Russian POW camps, and public opposition to West Germany`s "rearmament" was strong.
Germany Marks Five Years of Women in Armed Forces
The German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, first allowed female soldiers to join its ranks 5 years ago. Today, it`s not unusual to see women in uniform serving in the Bundeswehr`s missions abroad. Though their numbers still aren`t many, at least the 11,800 women in uniform today are no longer stared at like some rare species in a zoo. For the pioneer women soldiers who joined the Bundeswehr in 2001, it was a different story. "The first thing I heard was men whispering and saying, What`s she doing here, she must have taken a wrong turn."
German army`s anniversary ceremony stirs protest
Germany`s armed forces celebrated their 50th anniversary. About 500 soldiers held flaming torches and played instruments outside the Reichstag parliament building watched by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, his likely successor Angela Merkel. About 1,200 demonstrators, angered that the ceremony was taking place by parliament for the first time since World War Two, marched in protest. The critics say it is an archaic tradition that should have been scrapped when the postwar German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, were formed in 1955.
Bundeswehr: 10 percent of Its 30,000 Officers Come From the East
The Bundeswehr`s record bore comparison with the U.S. armed forces` success in assimilating racial minorities and overcoming stereotypes in American society. Roughly 10% of the Bundeswehr`s 30,000 officers are former East Germans, including some who started their careers in East Germany`s once-redoubtable National People`s Army. In key respects, German success in melding differing ideals of leadership and command, obedience and morale in these two armies has become a case study for East European countries, which are struggling to convert their former militaries into forces that can be integrated into NATO.