The army is not right

Another scandal has shaken the German army: defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Ursula von der Leyen) have to deal with the torture and bullying in one of the elite units of the Bundeswehr. “Humiliating, degrading rituals”, “brutal procedure”, sadistic hazing, and videos of the atrocities under the approval of superiors — such epithets press accompanies the story about the scandalous events in the barracks of the Bundeswehr in Pfullendorf (district Sigmaringen, state of Baden-württemberg). Here are a course of medical training recruits elite units of the Bundeswehr paratroopers, special forces. Prepare including for participation in hostilities on the front line. Here those who inflict brutal rituals of young soldiers, forcing new recruits to do humiliating exercises of a sexual nature and to strip naked in front of co-workers, and videos mocking procedures made military instructors.

The allegations affect a certain number of soldiers and superiors. Seven people, including the commander of the barracks in 2013, Colonel Thomas Heinrich Schmidt (Thomas Heinrich Schmidt), two staff officers and two noncommissioned officers who have already been removed from service or transferred to insignificant posts. The investigation of the offense involved in civil Prosecutor’s office in Baden-Wurttemberg Hechingen opened a case on suspicion of deprivation of liberty, infliction of threat of bodily harm, violence and coercion to acts of a sexual nature.

Federal defence Minister von der Leyen described the incident in Pfullendorf the barracks as “vile and disgusting”, promising to investigate them “with the utmost rigor of the law.” The coalition partners in the face of expert on the defence policy of the Social democratic party Rainer Arnold (Rainer Arnold) accused the defence Minister in the silence of what happened: “once again the Parliament was not informed in time, although about what is happening in the elite barracks has long been known”.

Indeed, the chief of the armed forces of Germany Volker Vickers (Volker Wieker) in writing informed the deputies-members of the parliamentary Committee on defense of the excesses in Pfullendorf just last week — after publishing the first information about the scandal in the Federal press, even though the first signals of severe forms of hazing came to the Ministry of defence in October 2016. Then began the investigation after a soldier, Lieutenant of the Bundeswehr, in writing addressed directly to the Commissioner of the Bundestag on military cases Hans-Peter Bartels (Hans-Peter Bartels) and Ursula von der Leyen, saying that witnessed a disgusting scene: the sadistic rituals concerning women recruits included sexual harassment.

In 2014, another female soldier approached the Ministry of defence with the complaint that in the barracks Pfullendorf reigns degrading to women atmosphere. Army inspectors conducted the inspection did not reveal disciplinary violations, and the case was closed. The signal, received last fall, was specifically and thoroughly documented: the defence Ministry has photos and videos of hazing both female and male. The present test confirmed suspicions so quickly that potential perpetrators were immediately dismissed from service and prosecuted. In the leadership of the Bundeswehr do not exclude that further investigation will reveal new facts of sadism and abuse of soldiers in Pfullendorf.

What happened here is a serious blow to the reputation of the German army and the head of the Ministry of defence. Ursula von der Leyen using large-scale campaigns and serious costs in every possible way tries to represent the Bundeswehr as a modern professional army, providing interesting opportunities for career growth for young citizens of Germany any sex. Events in Pfullendorf barracks buried these efforts in the ground, reminding that the army, even the German, is often transformed into a bunch of chauvinists, no stranger to humiliating sadistic rituals that are not dealt with immediate superiors. On the agenda of the Minister von der Leyen is scheduled for February discussion: “Sexual orientation and identity in the German army”: the event, designed to indicate the modernization of the Bundeswehr, in the background of the Prosecutor’s investigation Pfullendorf scandal turns into a conversation of a completely different nature.