Panel Discussion with Germany’s Minister of Defense de Mazière on: “Does Germany need a Veterans Day?”

What can Germany learn from America’s way to honour its veterans? This question was discussed on October 5 at the Saxon State and University Library Dresden. The Young Transatlantic Initiative had invited Dr. Thomas de Maizière, Minister of Defense, as well as a member of the US Army and a Bundeswehr soldier to approach the subject from different angles. About 80 students and citizens of Dresden took part in the event.

De Maizière presented plans to increase the appreciation of the German society to its veterans. He even thinks of inventing a Veterans Day – but in his eyes, that could only be the last step on an enduring process of building a “veterans culture”. German lieutenant commander Andrea Schulze said, she would highly appreciate a broader acceptance of her work by her fellow citizens. Master Sargent Robert Hall (US Army) gave examples of his experiences in the States, where he was always welcomed warmly when returning after assignments abroad.

The open discussion – moderated by YTI member Christian Eichardt – was broad and dynamic. One result: A change in Germany veterans culture can only be driven by the society. It is not possible to command it, Minister de Maizière summarized.