The Bundeswehr, a quick study.
Gentlemen, I am not the author of the bulk of this essay, its author is not known by me, (I found it on the net unattributed) however I will acknowledge if he/she comes to the fore. This is a quick study on the Bundeswehr, both pre and post unification, that is between 1955-1990 and 1990 to present, makes very interesting reading, enjoy,.....
The Bundeswehr (German for "Federal Defence Force") comprises the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities. The States of Germany are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the Basic Law of Germany states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the Federal government.The Bundeswehr is divided into a military part (armed forces or Streitkräfte) and a civil part with the armed forces administration (Wehrverwaltung), the federal bureau of procurement (Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung) and the federal bureau for information management and information technology of the Bundeswehr (Bundesamt für Informationsmanagement und Informationstechnik der Bundeswehr, sometimes abbreviated as IT-AmtBw). The military part of the federal defense force consists of Army (Heer), Navy (Marine), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis), and Central Medical Services (Zentraler Sanitätsdienst) branches.
The Bundeswehr has 247,100 active troops. Of these 188,112 are professional soldiers, 25,566 18–25-year-old conscripts who serve for at least nine months under current laws, and 33,417 Volunteer conscripts serving a longer military service. In addition the Bundeswehr has approximately 350,000 reserve personnel. Women have served in the medical service since 1975. From 1993 to 2000, they were also allowed to serve as enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers in the medical service and the army bands.
In 2000, in a lawsuit brought up by Tanja Kreil, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling allowing women to serve in more roles than previously allowed. Since 2001 they can serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are presently around 14,500 women on active duty and a number of female reservists who take part in all duties including peacekeeping missions and other operations.
In 1994, Verena von Weymarn became Generalarzt der Luftwaffe ("Surgeon General of the Air Force"), the first woman ever to reach the rank of general in the armed forces of Germany. In 2006 Erika Franke became the second. After World War II the responsibility for the security of Germany as a whole rested with the four Allied Powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. Germany had been without own armed forces since the Wehrmacht was dissolved following World War II. When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, it was without a military. Germany remained completely demilitarized and any plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations. Only some naval mine-sweeping units had continued to exist, but unarmed, under Allied control, and not as a national defence force. Even the Border guards was only established in 1951. There was a discussion between the United States, the United Kingdom and France over the issue of a revived German military. In particular, France was reluctant to allow Germany to rearm in light of recent history (Germany had invaded France three times in the previous 80 years). However, after the project for a European Defence Community failed in the French National Assembly in 1954, France agreed to West German accession to NATO and rearmament. With growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the West especially after the Korean War, this policy was to be revised. While the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was already secretly rearming, the seeds of a new West German force started in 1950 when former high-ranking German officers were tasked by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to discuss the options for West German rearmament. The results of a meeting in the monastery of Himmerod formed the conceptual base to build the new armed forces in West Germany. The Amt Blank (Blank Agency, named after its director Theodor Blank), the predecessor of the later Federal Ministry of Defense, was formed the same year to prepare the establishment of the future forces. Hasso von Manteuffel, a former general of the Wehrmacht and liberal politician, submitted the name Bundeswehr for the new forces. This name was later confirmed by the German Bundestag.
The Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955. After an amendment of the Basic Law in 1955, West Germany became a member of NATO. The first public military review took place at Andernach, in January 1956. In 1956, conscription for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 was reintroduced, later augmented by a civil alternative with longer duration (see Conscription in Germany).
In response, East Germany formed its own military force, the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA), in 1956, with conscription being established only in 1962. The Nationale Volksarmee was eventually dissolved with the reunification of Germany in 1990. During the Cold War the Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO's conventional defense in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel. The Army consisted of three corps with 12 divisions, most of them heavily armed with tanks and APCs. The Luftwaffe owned significant numbers of tactical combat aircraft and took part in NATO's integrated air defense (NATINAD). The Navy was tasked and equipped to defend the Baltic Approaches, to provide escort reinforcement and resupply shipping in the North Sea and to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet. During this time the Bundeswehr did not take part in combat operations. However there were a number of large-scale training and operational casualties. The first such incident was in June 1957, when fifteen paratroop recruits were drowned in the Iller river, Bavaria.
After reunification of Germany in 1990, the Bundeswehr was reduced to 370,000 military personnel in accordance with the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany between the two German governments and the Allies (2+4 Treaty). The former East German Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) was disbanded, with a portion of its personnel and material being absorbed into the Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr was the first NATO-member to use the Soviet-built former NVA-jet (MiG 29). About 50,000 Volksarmee personnel were integrated into the Bundeswehr on 2 October 1990. This figure was rapidly reduced as conscripts and short-term volunteers completed their service. A number of senior officers (but no generals or admirals) received limited contracts for up to two years to continue daily operations. Personnel remaining in the Bundeswehr were awarded new contracts and new ranks, dependent on their individual qualification and experience. Many received and accepted a lower rank than previously held in the Volksarmee. In general, the unification process of the two militaries - under the slogan "Armee der Einheit" (or "Army of Unity") - has been seen publicly as a major success and an example for other parts of the society. With the reduction, a large amount of the military hardware of the Bundeswehr, as well as of the Volksarmee, had to be disposed of. Most of the armored vehicles and fighter jet aircraft were dismantled under international disarmament procedures. Many ships were scrapped or sold, often to the Baltic states or Indonesia (the latter received 39 former Volksmarine vessels of various types). The service uniform is theoretically the standard type of Bundeswehr uniform for general duty and off-post activity, most associated, however, with ceremonial occasions. The army's service uniform consists of a light gray, single-breasted coat and darker gray trousers, worn with a light blue or white shirt, black tie, and black shoes. The peaked, visored cap has been replaced by the beret as the most common form of headgear. Dress uniforms featuring dinner jackets or double-breasted coats are worn by officers for various social occasions. The battle and work uniform consists of Flecktarn camouflage fatigues, which are also worn on field duty. In practice, they are also used for general duty and off-post at least at barracks where there is also field duty even by others, and for the way home or to the post, and generally regarded as the Heer uniform. In all three services, light sand-colored uniforms are available for duty in warmer climates. The traditional arm-of-service colors appear as lapel facings and as piping on shoulder straps. Generals wear an inner piping of gold braid; other officers wear silver piping. Lapel facings and piping are maroon for general staff, green for infantry, red for artillery, pink for armor, black for engineers, yellow for communications, dark yellow for reconnaissance and various other colors for the remaining branches. Combat troops wear green (infantry), black (armor), or burgundy (airborne) berets. Logistics troops wear red berets, and combat support troops, such as artillery or engineers, wear red ones. A gold or silver device on the beret denotes the individual branch of service. The naval forces wear the traditional navy blue, double-breasted coat and trousers; enlisted personnel wear either a white shirt or a navy blue shirt with the traditional navy collar. White uniforms provide an alternative for summer. The officer's dress cap is mounted with a gold anchor surrounded by a wreath. The visor of the admiral's cap bears a double row of oak leaves. The air force service uniform consists of a blue-gray jacket and trousers with a light blue shirt, dark blue tie, and black shoes. Olive battle dress similar to the army fatigue uniform is worn in basic training and during other field duty. Flying personnel wear wings on their right breast. Technical personnel wear a modified wing device with a symbol in its center denoting service specialization. The latter is bronze, silver, or gold, depending on one's length of service in the specialty. Wings, superimposed over a wreath, in gold, silver, or bronze, depending on rank, are also worn on the service or field cap. In general, officer ranks are those used in the Prussian and pre-1945 German armies. Officer rank insignia are worn on shoulder straps or shoulder boards. Army (Heer) and air force (Luftwaffe) junior officers' insignia are four pointed silver stars while field grade officers wear silver (black or white on camouflage uniforms) stars and a laurel wreath around the lowest star. The stars and wreath are gold for general officers. In the case of naval (Marine) officers, rank is indicated by gold stripes on the lower sleeve of the blue service jacket and on shoulder boards of the white uniform. Soldier and NCO ranks are similar to those of the Prussian and pre-1945 German armies. In the army and air force, a Gefreiter corresponds to the NATO rank OR-2 and Hauptgefreiter to OR-3. An Unteroffizier is the lowest-ranking sergeant (OR-5), followed by Stabsunteroffizier (OR-6), Feldwebel and Oberfeldwebel (OR-7), Hauptfeldwebel (OR-8) and Stabsfeldwebel (OR-9). Ranks of army and air force enlisted personnel are designated by stripes, chevrons, and "sword knots" worn on rank slides. Naval enlisted rank designations are worn on the upper (OR 1-5) or lower (OR-6 and above) sleeve along with a symbol based on an anchor for the service specialization (rating). Army and air force officer candidates hold the separate ranks of Fahnenjunker, Fähnrich and Oberfähnrich, and wear the appropriate rank insignia plus a silver cord bound around it. Officers candidates in the navy Seekadett (sea cadet; equivalent to OR-4) and Fähnrich zur See (midshipman second class; OR-5) wear the rank insignia of the respective enlisted ranks but with a gold star instead of the rating symbol, while an Oberfähnrich zur See (midshipman first class; OR-7) wears an officer type thin rank stripe. Medical personnel of all three services wear a version of the traditional caduceus (staff with entwined serpents) on their shoulder straps or sleeve. The officers' ranks have own designations differing from the line officers, the rank insignias however are basically the same. Former German military organisations have been the old German state armies, the Reichswehr (1921–1935) and the Wehrmacht (1935–1945). The Bundeswehr, however, does not consider itself as their successor and does not follow the traditions of any former German military organisation. The official Bundeswehr traditions are based on three major lines: the defense reformers at the beginning of the 19th century such as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Clausewitz, the members of the military resistance against Hitler such as Claus von Stauffenberg and Henning von Tresckow, its own tradition since 1955. As its symbol the Bundeswehr uses a form of the Iron Cross. The Iron Cross has a long history, having been awarded as a military wartime decoration for all ranks since 1813, and earlier associated with the Teutonic knights.
The name Bundeswehr was proposed by the former Wehrmacht general and liberal politician Hasso von Manteuffel. One of the most visible traditions is the Großer Zapfenstreich, a form of military tattoo that goes back to the landsknecht era. Another expression of the traditions in the German armed forces is the ceremonial vow (Gelöbnis) of recruits, during basic training. Annually on July 20, the date of the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler by Wehrmacht officers in 1944, recruits of the Wachbataillon vow at the Bendlerblock, where the officers had their headquarters. The wording of the ceremonial vow of conscripts is: "I pledge to loyally serve the Federal Republic of Germany and to bravely defend the law and the freedom of the German people." "Ich gelobe, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland treu zu dienen und das Recht und die Freiheit des deutschen Volkes tapfer zu verteidigen." Professional soldiers and officers of the Bundeswehr have to swear an oath with the same wording, but beginning with "Ich schwöre, ..." ("I swear...").
if like me, you have started or you are already a collector of Bundeswehr militaria, this information is fascinating and most informative.
Prost ! Steve.
"The German Army is the perfectly adapted, perfectly running Machine. The difference is that the Germans are organised with a view to War...with the cold, hard, practical and business-like purpose of winning victories."
G.W. Steevens - The Daily Mail (1897)
01-18-2011 05:16 PM
Re: The Bundeswehr, a quick study.
That is an excellent article. It would be nice if the author could be known so proper attribution could be given, as you stated.
I currently have only a Bundeswehr buckle, a DDR EM field cap and a DDR EM visor cap for my collection, but look forward to gathering more bits and pieces.
I love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because I’m still looking for ideas.