Some 20 years ago this month, the largest deployment of the German Bundeswehr since it was established in 1955 got underway. With United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 adopted on 10 June 1999, what became known as KFOR, some 50,000-strong, was soon stood up. Of these, 8,500 came from Germany and the force included both heavy and light armor as well as mountain (Gebirgsjäger) and parachute (Fallschirmjäger) units, the first time such detachments saw use in the Balkans since 1945.
In the past 20 years, 135,000 Germans have taken part in KFOR operations, and 70 are still deployed today.
Here is past Combat Gallery Sunday artist Alex Colville with his haunting painting, Tragic Landscape (oil on canvas 61 x 91 cm, painted in 1945) depicting a fallen German Fallschirmjäger in the tail end of the war, who has already been picked clean of his boots.
A Canadian military combat artist who landed in France in August 1944 and worked his way into Germany largely on foot, to Buchenwald and beyond, Colville saw the war up close and personal.
“I remember the paratrooper lying in a [Deventer] field,” recalled Colville in a 1980 interview. “He was about twenty. They [the Germans] would fight right to the very end; they had put up a tremendous fight until they were all killed.”