sábado, 21 de octubre de 2017

Sigue complicado en Alemania distinguir el pasado

Military history provides traditional dilemma for German army

Germany’s relationship to its military past is difficult at the best of times and the army is now reworking its tradition decree. With soldier and society increasingly at odds, it’s likely to be a complicated process.

New recruits of the German armed forces Bundeswehr take oath in front of the Reichstag

The top generals were there, as were military historians and social scientists. The defense minister sat in the front row.
But as officials with the German Armed Forces, or Bundeswehr, gathered at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences in Potsdam to grapple with the German military's relationship with its past, the discussion turned frequently to those who weren't present — the troops themselves.
The Bundeswehr is overhauling its traditions decree, a uniquely German document that identifies the acceptable sources of military heritage in a country where the past is divisive, especially as it relates to the armed forces. It's a challenging act that involves balancing the political needs of the moment with a rank and file that is developing more emotional ties to their own identity as they deploy overseas.
"Everyone in this room has studied this topic quite intensively," Bundeswehr Brigadier General Kai Rohrschneider, the current chief of staff for US Army Europe, told the gathered academics. "For the troops it's a lot more difficult."

A growing rift

The debate itself points to the growing rift between German society and its military. After a series of scandals hit the Bundeswehr this spring, most notably the discovery of a right-wing extremist officer posing as an asylum-seeker, political pressure was high to rein in what some saw as a military disconnected from the society it served.
 German barracks named after Rommel
The German defense minister wants barracks named after WWII figures renamed
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen broadly condemned the Bundeswehr leadership, which responded by searching barracks for further signs of extremism. Von der Leyen suggested she might rename barracks and warships named after Nazi-era soldiers or commanders, including the famed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
A backlash quickly followed. Current and former military officers criticized von der Leyen's blanket condemnation. Younger officers voiced their displeasure. The critics were soon joined by public and media commentary questioning the slash-and-burn approach to the past.

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in army uniform

The confusing boundaries of the debate were embodied in the May removal of a photographic portrait of Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, from the Hamburg university that bears his name.
The portrait showed a young Schmidt in his Nazi-era Wehrmacht uniform [The German army in World War II]. Yet as defense minister, Schmidt was key in preserving some of the most progressive reforms built into the Bundeswehr.
Von der Leyen announced around the same time her plan to have the traditions decree refashioned for the third time in Bundeswehr history.

Looking back — but how far back?

The Potsdam discussion was structured to split German military history around the year 1933, when the Nazis rose to power.
Speakers focused on one side of the divide looked to Prussian military reformers of the 19th Century as positive role models. Others pointed to the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler carried out by a conspiracy of his own officers. Still others pointed to the very creation of the Bundeswehr in 1955 — the first democratically controlled military in German history — as worthy of celebration in its own right.

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