Archive for July 19th, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 20 – Military Ceremony in front of the Berlin Reichstag

The Berlin Borough Mitte (Central) had originally declined a request by the Bundeswehr (German Military) to authorise a public military ceremony on July 20 in front of the Reichstag – the building that houses the German federal parliament. The ceremony in which recruits regularly vow to defend the law and the freedom of the German people takes place in lots of different places, sometimes on military sites, sometimes semi-publicly. The Borough had cited technical and judicial reasons for rejecting the request. Obviously, especially conservative politicians didn’t buy that, and members of the forces seemed to be irritated, too.

The Borough department in charge is the parks and gardens office. I’m no pacifist, but I liked the Borough’s approach. I see no reason to hide the military, but I see no reason why it should essentially be paraded in front of the Reichstag either. Bernd Siebert, speaker for defense policies in the federal parliament’s conservative CDU/CSU faction, makes a point that is worth listening to as to why he thinks the Reichstag building is an adequate place for the ceremony. July 20 is the day when some high-ranking military and civilians tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944.

The problem is that Conservatives would be way too “proud” of the army once a good share of the public didn’t look at defense policies as critically as it does. One of the reasons for the Mitte Borough not to approve the ceremony was that it objected to a related request by the military for police / road blocks around the place – i. e. to handpick the audience at the ceremony, for fear of (pretty likely) demonstrations. It is the public that requires politicians (including conservatives) to make a convincing case for the existence and role of the military. The Borough said that according to an existing ruling by an administrative court, road blocks as extensive as requested were not legal.

On July 11 however, the Borough and defense ministry did agree on a ceremony in front of the Reichstag, after they found a compromise on the road blocks, which are now to be in effect only on July 20 itself, from noon. To me, it looks like if the Borough has given in, and only got some face-saving concessions from the federal level and the military.

I don’t like the decision. I was in the army myself, and that’s exactly why I prefer such ceremonies to happen on military sites. The whole stuff about the Reichstag as a site for it wasn’t about defense. In my books, it was an opportunity for the MIC to show that they make the decisions.

I wasn’t in the army to serve the MIC. But I guess I would die for the Mitte Borough’s parks and gardens office.

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