The suspension of conscription went hand in hand 2011 with an end to community service. Federal President Steinmeier proposes an alternative – and is immediately rejected.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggests the introduction of compulsory social service for young people in Germany.
“It’s about the question of whether it wouldn’t be good for our country if women and men put themselves in the service of society for a certain period of time,” Steinmeier told the “Bild am Sonntag”. That doesn’t have to be in the Bundeswehr, “in my opinion, the social obligation time could also be done in the care of seniors, in facilities for the disabled or in shelters for the homeless”. Introducing this in this way will certainly not be easy, but he considers a debate about compulsory social time to be appropriate in any case.
Steinmeier left open how long such a service should last from his point of view: “I deliberately said mandatory time, because it doesn’t have to be a year. You can also choose a different period.” It is important to broaden your horizons and get to know different perspectives. “Especially now, at a time when understanding for other life plans and opinions is decreasing, a social obligation time can be particularly valuable. You get out of your own bubble, meet completely different people, help citizens in need. That breaks down prejudices and strengthens the sense of community.”
Family Minister Paus rejects the proposal
Family Minister Lisa Paus speaks out against the introduction of compulsory service for all young people. “Compulsory social service would mean an encroachment on the individual freedom of every young person,” the Greens politician told the German Press Agency in Berlin on Sunday. She referred to the great popularity of voluntary services. “Voluntary commitment would become an obligation. We should continue to give our young people, who have suffered particularly badly from the corona pandemic and still shown solidarity with the older ones, the freedom to make their own decisions.”
So far, there have been the Voluntary Social Year, the Voluntary Ecological Year and the International Youth Volunteer Service especially for young people. These offers are open to young women and men up to the age of 27 regardless of their school qualifications, origin or income situation. In addition, there is the Federal Volunteer Service as an offer for people of all ages.
Paus told the dpa: “For the individual young person, such a voluntary service means personal enrichment, for society it is an important support – also because the young people volunteer and are passionate about the matter.” Even now, as a voluntary service, the demand is greater than the supply. “But young people are free to decide for or against such a service.” From Paus’ point of view, it should stay that way.
Conscription had been suspended 2011 after 27 years, which effectively ended military and community service. The Russian attack on Ukraine sparked a new debate about introducing universal conscription. Politicians from the Union and the SPD called for a discussion about such a step, which combines military service and social services. (dpa)