Thursday 25 November 2010

So - What Are The Hot Topics in Germany ?

Letter from Germany

So if Germans aren’t obsessing over the Irish bailout, what are the main topics of conversation ?

Well, obviously there is always the old stalwart of the Battle of Stuttgart Station. All they are trying to do is make this rather inconvenient old terminus into a through route. But the greens have taken against it, and the ensuing conflict makes Swampy and his struggle against the Newbury bypass look like a toddler’s tantrum.

These Teutonic nimbys, who in truth seem as much nihilists as environmentalists, are really looking forward to the Big Event – the comeback tour of the Atomkraft? Nein Danke movement. Aroused from dormancy by Merkel’s temerity in extending the life of Germany’s nukes by fiat, they are already swarming all over the railway tracks in front of the nuclear waste trains in their tens of thousands, and lighting up Berlin with torchlight demos on a very big scale indeed. What japes! Don’t these frivolous people realize they are in charge of the whole of Europe ? On a bad day they seem pretty ungovernable to me.

Which brings us to the other great topic of conversation: they may be about to scrap military conscription. Yup, it’s still compulsory around these parts, although at call-up time very large numbers conveniently remember they are conscientious objectors. They need to make their case to be let off to do community service instead; but you can download a well-drafted letter from the web to assist in your application. Tens of thousands do just that – and work for a pittance in hospitals etc - a rather handy source of cheap labour: so scrapping this system is not uncontroversial.

In any event, it’s likely to be only a de facto scrapping: compulsory citizen-soldiership is written into the postwar constitution on the basis it makes the army one with the people, and neutralizes it as a civil threat.

Trouble is, with the passing of the Cold War as a source of motivation, it somewhat neutralizes it as an effective army. Germans still make good soldiers: but the conscripts often work with kit that is 30 or more years old, and are in no shape to deploy for action. As with most conscript armies in peacetime, the serious soldiers yearn to go 100% professional. It’s probably what they will do.

Something else to take the mind off boring old bailouts.



Mark Wadsworth said...

Conscription my foot, consciencous objecters my ar*e.

You join the army because you fancy the life style, if you are a do-gooder you do Zivildienst instead, which usually means working in a hospital for a few hundred Euros a month (i.e. a pittance).

Yer self respecting teenager about town remembers a bad knee injury or gets a psychiatrist to confirm that he is sensitive to noise and gets a free pass. No army, no Zivildienst. Well, that's what most of my friends were doing twenty years ago and that's what my two sons did in the past couple of years.

The only people I know who actually did National Service were gay or macho wankers.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I don't think I spelled "conscientious" properly. Ah well.

hovis said...

"On a bad day they seem pretty ungovernable to me." - that's what the Romans also thought...

Bill Quango MP said...

Varus, bring me back my legions!

CityUnslicker said...

I think they need to take on ireland then if they are ungovernable. Perhaps as a new Bundeslander? much talk of that?

Laban said...

I hope we've made the return of the Treaty Ports a condition of the £7b bailout. Be nice to see the old flag over Queenstown again. Ireland's difficulty should be England's opportunity.

Laban said...

Damn, I forgot. We haven't got any ships to put in the ports!

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I recall a case when I lived in Germany 20+ years ago of a keen Handball player who objected to being conscripted on the grounds that he was a pacifist, and wished to do zivildienst instead. He went before a board that decided he should not be exempted, since if he was really a pacifist he would not play handball, which is of course a violent contact sport. So into the Bundeswehr he went.

Most of my German friends did wehrdienst instead of zivildienst on the grounds that driving a tank is largely more fun than wiping an arse in a hospital. One or two enthusiasts did used to joke about turning the tanks left out of the barracks instead of right, going through the Fulda Gap and not stopping until Moscow, but all of them described it as "dead time".

Anyhoo, nice to know that Wadsworth thinks that those of us who did our time in the ranks out of choice are either Gay or Macho Wankers. Those "macho wankers" keep us safe and perhaps deserve a little more respect.