Just under a fortnight ago, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius (Social Democrat, SPD) called for Germany to become “war-ready” and “capable of defence” again, and for both the Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) and society as a whole to be arranged accordingly.
The goal of the comprehensive rearmament and militarisation of society as a whole not only links back rhetorically but also substantively to Nazi policy. Before and during the Second World War, the Nazis had constantly invoked the German people’s “readiness for war” and “ability to defend themselves.”
Nazi weekly newspaper “Das Reich” with editorial by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels
On July 9, 1944, when the defeat of the Wehrmacht (Hitler’s Armed Forces) was already unstoppable, the Nazi weekly newspaper Das Reich published the headline, “More fit for war than ever.” The editorial, penned by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, invoked Germany’s “ war-readiness” and called for all the forces of the “nation” to be mobilised for “victory.”
The German ruling class is pursuing this goal again today. On Thursday, Pistorius and the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Carsten Breuer, published the 2023 Defence Policy Guidelines, which can only be described as a blueprint for total war. The National Security Strategy, published in June, was already moving in this direction.
All areas of society are once again to be geared towards war, German soldiers and civilians are once again to die en masse for the predatory interests of German imperialism. This is the core message of the 35-page document, which Pistorius and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) underlined on Friday with further pro-war speeches at the Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) conference in Berlin.
“Our ability to defend ourselves requires a Bundeswehr that is war-ready,” reads the very first section of the paper. This means “that its personnel and equipment are geared towards fulfilling its demanding missions.” The yardstick for this was “readiness to fight at all times with the aspiration to succeed in high-intensity combat.” We do not just want to win the confrontation with an “at least equal opponent,” we have to, the document declares.
Another key objective is: “War-readiness as a maxim for action.” Germany needs “soldiers who have the will to bravely defend the rights and freedom of the German people, consciously accepting the risk to life and limb.”
These statements are a warning. During the Second World War, Germany’s ruling class reduced Europe to rubble and ash and committed the worst crimes in human history with the war of extermination and the Holocaust. Since then, it has not dared to speak so openly about war, victory, and the will to die on the battlefield. Now it is determined to rearm Germany to become the leading European military power and to put it in a position to wage a major war in Europe itself.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the Bundeswehr conference [Photo by Bundesregierung / Kugler]