Heer throwbacks

Today’s German Federal Army, the Deutsches Heer, traces its formal origin to 1956 when it was reformed by the Western Allies in their zones of occupation, soon becoming the most formidable non-U.S. force in NATO within 15 years. While many act as if the West German (and after 1990 that of a reunified Germany) was carved out of whole cloth, it should be remembered that it carried on many of the old traditions of the old Reichsheer/Reichswehr and Wehrmacht-era Heer.

See the torch-lit Großer Zapfenstreich (Grand Tatoo) event of the Army’s elite Wachbataillon— a drill and ceremony battalion that still marches with Mauser 98s.

1987: “Members of the German military carry lit torches in honor of General (GEN) Charles L. Donnelly Jr., departing commander in chief, US Air Force Europe, and Allied Air Forces Central Europe. The Soldiers are participating in the “Grand Tatoo,” one of the West Germany military’s highest honors. Charles L. Donnelly Jr., departing commander in chief, US Air Force Europe, and Allied Air Forces Central Europe.” DF-ST-88-08721

2002: Großer Zapfenstreich auf dem Münchner Platz im ersten Dienstsitz des Bundesministerium der Verteidigung in Bonn.

In another throwback, they still use the same two-part Erkennungsmarke or Hundemarke dog tag discs that date back to 1870.

And, in an episode of “everything old is new again,” the force is fielding the THeMIS Unbemanntes Bodenfahrzeug, an unmanned tracked vehicle that, at least to me, is nothing more than a modernized Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath tracked mine of WWII.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that the Germans are training Ukrainians to fight Russians using German equipment. See the WWII-era Ukrainian Liberation Army for proper irony.

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