Germany Considers Instituting a Veterans Day, Perhaps Forgetting Many of Its Veterans Were Nazis

It reads like the kind of thought-provoking hypothetical your cool high school history teacher who sat not behind but ON TOP OF his desk and called everyone by their last names might have thrown out: Should Germany have its own Veterans Day?

For German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière, the answer is clear: Ja, why not?

Germany has not observed a Veterans Day since the Third Reich. It has no official day of remembrance to commemorate the seven million German servicemen who died in World Wars I and II.

What it does have is a public day of mourning, Volkstrauertag, observed on November 11th, which honors both soldiers and civilians killed in war, as well as all victims of violent oppression.

De Maizière originally proposed tacking Germany's Veterans Day onto that day — a suggestion met with much criticism. He switched his recommendation to May 22.

Of course, there are many German military veterans who were never members of the Nazi party. About 300,000 German soldiers have served abroad since 1991, when the second Gulf War marked the nation's first foray into foreign military action since World War II.

Representatives of the German army support the plan which, de Maizière noted in his proposal, "is new, but only for Germany."

Public response has been tepid. One member of an opposing political party said this:

"If the defence minister wants to do something for former soldiers, he should get some money and improve their social security, instead of invoking some cheap 'ideal honor.'"

Although that May date is rapidly approaching, no final decisions regarding the holiday's official adoption have been made.

Ach.

[Image via AP]