|Established:||November 12th, 1955|
|Current Form:||October 2nd, 1990|
The Bundeswehr (German for "Federal Defence"; listen (help·info)) is the unified armed forces of the Federal Republic 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 German Constitution 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 military part of the federal defense force consists of the Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service), and the Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Central Medical Services) branches.
he Bundeswehr was preceded by the old German state armies, then the Reichswehr (1921–1935), and the Wehrmacht (1935–1945). The Bundeswehr, however, does not consider itself as their successors and does not follow the traditions of any former German military organisation. The official Bundeswehr traditions are based on three major lines: the military 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 and 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.
Cold War EraEdit
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 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 continued to exist, but they remained unarmed and under Allied control and did not serve as a national defence force. Even the Federal Border Protection Force, a mobile, lightly armed police force of 10,000 men, was only formed in 1951. A proposal to integrate West German troops with soldiers of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy in a European Defence Community was proposed but never implemented.
There was a discussion between the United States, the United Kingdom and France over the issue of a revived (West) German military. In particular, France was reluctant to allow Germany to rearm in light of recent history (Germany had invaded France twice in living memory, in World War I and World War II, and also defeated France in the Franco-German War of 1870/71; (see also French–German enmity)). 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 West German Bundestag.
The Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955. In personnel and education terms, the most important initial feature of the new German armed forces was to be their orientation as citizen defenders of a democratic state, fully subordinate to the political leadership of the country. A personnel screening committee was created to make sure that the future colonels and generals of the armed forces were those whose political attitude and experience would be acceptable to the new democratic state. There were a few key reformers, such as General Ulrich de Maiziere, General Graf von Kielmansegg, and Graf von Baudissin, who reemphasised some of the more democratic parts of Germany’s armed forces history in order to establish a solid civil-military basis to build upon.
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. A US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) helped with the introduction of the Bundeswehr's initial equipment and war material, predominantly of American origin. 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 defence in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel. Although Germany had smaller armed forces than France and the United States, Cold War Historian John Lewis Gaddis assesses the Bundeswehr as "perhaps world's best army". 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 defence (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. 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).
German Civil War & Near DownfallEdit
United Nazi WarEdit
According to the new threat scenario facing Germany and its NATO allies, the Bundeswehr is currently reorganising itself. To realise growth in mobility and the enlargement of the air force's capabilities, the Bundeswehr is going to buy 60 Airbus A400M transports as well as 180 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and also several unmanned aerial vehicle models. For the ground forces it plans to upgrade to Leopard 2 A7 main battle tank, developing a land soldier system and a new generation of transportation vehicles and light vehicles, such as the Fennek, the Boxer MRAV, KMW Grizzly, or the Puma (IFV). Further, the German Navy is going to build new corvettes (dubbed K131), the new F125 class frigates, two Joint Support Ships and two more Type 212 submarines.