Source: Claudius Pflug

Yes, says Thorsten Jungholt


The federal government sets up armed forces for defense.

Men can be obliged to serve in the armed forces from the age of 18.

Both sentences are in the Basic Law.

The first is a command, the second an optional provision.

That is why compulsory military service could be suspended at the stroke of a pen ten years ago.

The decision was wrongly justified with financial constraints and was implemented haphazardly.

Still, she was right.

Conscription is a deep encroachment on civil liberties that needs good justification.

When it was introduced in 1956, there was this: Germany was a frontline state in the Cold War, the forced recruitment of young men as part of the deterrent to the Warsaw Pact was an answer to this.

In 1990 this threat disappeared, and today the foreign policy situation is different.

For the security of the Federal Republic of Germany no “Levée en masse” is needed, but an army of specialized professionals.

This applies to international crisis operations, but also to the need for national and alliance defense, which was rediscovered in the course of the Crimean crisis.

NATO no longer requires Germany to have twelve, but three army divisions, as it did before.

The focus is on speed and agility, on cyber and high-tech skills.

So what is the justification for conscription?

She helps in the fight against right-wing extremism, believes the defense commissioner Eva Högl (SPD).

This cannot be proven, there are studies from the 1990s in which conscripts made up the majority of suspected cases.

Anyone who worries about right-wing extremist soldiers has to take a closer look at the recruitment process, strengthen the shielding service and improve political education.


The AfD nostalgically quotes Prussian army reformers, sees the citizens as "born defenders of the state" and wants to recruit 30,000 conscripts annually.

Who should train the Bundeswehr, which has shrunk to 180,000 soldiers?

By which?

The material is not even enough for the current troop.

There used to be over 700 barracks, today 250.

The district military replacement offices for the draft have been abolished.

And how should military justice be established?

In 2019, 730,000 young men and women with German passports left schools - and women would have to be taken into account today in the course of equality.

Even a significantly larger Bundeswehr only drew a fraction of a year of conscription in the last few years.

The Bundeswehr does not have a shortage of personnel, but rather a shortage of skilled workers

Service of young citizens to society is desirable, but it does not have to be forced.

The civil voluntary services have enough applicants.

The Bundeswehr, too, has no shortage of personnel, but rather a shortage of skilled workers.

But conscription does not help against this, but a modern, well-paid workplace.


The author has been reporting on the Bundeswehr and its problems since 2009.

The suspension of compulsory military service is not one of them.

Source: Claudius Pflug

No, says Rainer Haubrich

In Israel, both men and women are compulsory and the service lasts two years.

It's also been two years in South Korea, and during that time the recruits have only limited contact with family and friends.

Fortunately, Germany is not surrounded by enemies, and there is no longer any communist country on the other side of the national border.

That is why many citizens believe that the security of the Federal Republic is not endangered and that power struggles are now only fought economically or through “soft power”.

You should tell that to the people in Ukraine or the Balts or the German soldiers in Mali.

The suspension of compulsory military service also contributed to this misjudgment.

Since then, the proportion of the population who had to deal with military scenarios at one point in their life or who were conveyed to them by relatives has become even smaller.

Since the Bundeswehr has only been recruiting volunteers, a negative selection can also be observed: many join the army who cannot find anywhere else or those with a weakness for weapons or martial behavior.

Soldiers are no longer “citizens in uniform”, no longer a mirror of society


This strengthens the internal distance between citizens and the army that has existed since the post-war period.

And without conscripts, the Bundeswehr is increasingly reaching the limits of its capacity.

While it once numbered 500,000 soldiers, it is now 180,000, and at the same time the number of missions abroad has increased.

Which is why, for example, the former Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung or experts such as the former professor at the University of the Federal Armed Forces, Michael Wolffsohn, are discussing the reintroduction of conscription.

Then there would be community service again, on which the social institutions could build.

For many young people - especially from the academic milieu - military or community service was the first and often the most lasting encounter with the reality of life.

Both sharpened the senses for the value of social cohesion.

Or as Wolffsohn puts it: "Because of what everyone has experienced and achieved, a sense of togetherness arose and thus an increasing bond with our state and its institutions."

Military service for women and men

All these arguments led to the fact that in a referendum in Austria eight years ago around 60 percent voted in favor of maintaining compulsory military service or community service.

In Switzerland too, young men have to serve in the army or in civil defense.

Should a compulsory year of service be introduced again in Germany, it would have to be in keeping with the times and therefore apply equally to men and women.

We are for equality.

The author did his military service with the paramedics and in the Army Music Corps 11. That was long since disbanded.