Germany at War

Military recruitment office video. Berlin, December 2015.

Few countries agonize more about sending their troops to war than Germany. That doesn’t prevent foreign deployments, however. German forces have been sent abroad for over twenty years nows, beginning with the war in Bosnia. But the ongoing debate highlights the persistence of pacifism in the country, crossing political boundaries in a manner unheard of in the United States. Given German history, one can understand why.

Unfortunately, Germany’s commitment to NATO forces in Afghanistan has helped erode its post-war inhibitions. The third largest contributor to the alliance mission (an estimated 5000 troops), the operation remains controversial, 14 years after it first began. Given the tragedy that has unfolded since the US-led invasion, it’s not hard to understand why. With 2015 registering the highest civilian death toll since the Americans first arrived, for many Germans, it’s hard to imagine why Berlin remains committed militarily.

That is, of course, if you’re ignorant of the extensive American military presence in Germany. A staging base for US operations in the Middle East and Africa, whether Germans approve of deploying their forces abroad or not, Germany helps enable the US military effort simply by hosting such significant and active American bases. Whether Germany could be considered a global military power without the American presence on its soil is another question.

Still, many Germans, particularly on the left,  single Germany out by itself, reserving their ire for its defense industry, one of the most successful in the world. They’re equally uncomfortable with the idea of of Germans playing a role in enabling US power. By no means a new phenomenon, American military operations in Germany have been protested for years, most recently in relation to the War on Terror, and the NSA eavesdropping scandal. The following flyer translations help explain why.

The first is clearer and better designed. Posted to a public restroom in Berlin’s appropriately named Karl-Marx-Platz, it offers a typically Marxist analysis. The second is a bit more of a post-modern read, but no less orthodox, in its own right, albeit to a less ideologically specific, albeit anti-capitalist, point of view. Photographed in the borough of Kreuzberg, its more DiY feel offers a compatible take on the crisis of German foreign policy, and what it perceives to be its growing imperialist tendencies.


9 DEC – The Syrian War and the historic interests of German imperialism in the Middle East
16 DEC – Herfried Münkler: An academic in the service of German imperialism

6 JAN – Jörg Baberowski’s “Premises of violence”: A plea for a police state and war

13 JAN – The historical struggle of the socialist movement against war

18 JAN – The struggle against today’s militarism and the establishment of a new anti-war movement

A series of IYSSE events in the lead up to the student elections at the Humboldt University.

70 years after the end of World War II, the world is still a powder keg. The German government’s decision to participate in the Syrian War marked a new chapter in the return of German militarism and increased the chances of another world war.

Behind the backs of it people, they are embarking on a venture that will have global and unpredictable consequences. The Bundeswehr has been drawn into a war that, much like the Balkans before the First World War, is being fought in an arena of international conflict and clashing interests.

Germany’s new approach to foreign policy goes hand in hand with the construction of a new authoritarian regime. The political elite are using the Paris attacks as an excuse to launch new combat missions in Syria, Afghanistan and Mali, as well as simultaneously planning to upgrade the police and the intelligence services and internally deploy the army.

We are throwing our hats into the election ring, in order to counter the march towards war and to establish a new anti-war movement. Now we need a broad opposition movement among students and workers against any conflict and its roots, capitalism. Strong knowledge of the central historical and political issues is a major prerequisite for success.

VOTE IYSSE! Your future, your fight!
International Youth and Students for Social Equality

Imperialism still abounds. And how! Forget about the geographical maps that Marx and Lenin wrote about and the Fukuyama-esque ‘End of Man’ scenario, as well as freedom, totalitarianism, dictatorships and democracy. Instead, take out a medical map and look at how your home has been colonised and ruled over by names like Parkinson, Alzheimer, Bleuler and their methods. Your stomach is Billroth’s.

Your neck and thyroid gland are Basedow’s and your muscles and so-called hysterical behaviour belong to Charcot and Freud. All tied to Marxian writings about imperialism – still far-removed from a so-called free market, imperialism reigns over the organ banks too. An imperialism that, for example, trades the organs of children, and is so detached from nations and its peoples, as opined by Marxism.

Translated from the German by Sam Morgan. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.