Veterans Day is November 11 every year. However, November 11 is also Armistice Day in many countries around the world. For the international community, it continues to mark the end of World War I. Other countries that formed the Allies during the war still called Armistice Day. Others have also changed their names, but not to Veterans Day like in the United States. Instead, those countries refer to November 11 as Remembrance Day. Many countries celebrate this holiday. So, have you wondered if Germany has Veterans Day? And how Veterans day celebrate in Germany?
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Does Germany Has Veterans Day? How Veterans Day Celebrate In Germany
Germany does not celebrate the signing of the armistice, instead, the Germans honor their veterans on the Sunday closest to November 16. The day is known as the Volkstrauertag.
History Of Volkstrauertag
The Volkstrauertag was founded in 1922 and was originally dedicated to the victims of World War I. The nazis considered it a national holiday and redefined it as an occasion to honor their heroes and war memorials.
In an attempt to symbolize a clear break with fascist ideology and the nazis’ original goals for the holiday, this holiday was moved to the second Sunday of the church a year after World War II. Today, it is an occasion not only to mourn the dead but also to illustrate the tragedy of war and to speak out for peace.
What Do People Do?
Volkstrauertag began with the German President and German Chancellor delivering speeches in the presence of members of the diplomatic corps and government officials.
After the speech, the German national anthem was played. Immediately followed by the song I have a comrade (Ich hatt ‘einen Kameraden), a traditional German song about the lamentation of the country’s armed forces.
Most Länder also holds their own ceremony; Veterans often hold ceremonies that include a procession from their respective churches to the war memorial, a pastor’s prayer, speeches by the mayor and veterans’ presidents, an honor guard of the army, several wreaths are laid and “Ich hatt”; if any, also attended by a Bundeswehr officer as the official representative.
In the provinces, veterans marched after hearing the news in unison toward war memorials to pay their respects to fallen comrades.
The Volkstrauertag is also known as the “silent day” (Stiller Tag). In some German states, music or dance events are prohibited by law. Like any other Sunday, offices, banks and schools are closed. Public transport usually runs on a regular schedule on Sundays
Germany mulls instituting Veterans’ Day
Germany is introducing an annual American-style Veterans Day to honor the sacrifices of the country’s military. A common holiday in many parts of the world received mixed reactions in Germany.
Several countries around the world celebrate Remembrance Day to remember and honor the contributions and services of their soldiers and servicemen. Now, Germany is likely to follow if Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere gets his way.
De Maiziere considers this proposal timely, given Germany’s growing military presence around the world. Germany’s first foreign military mission since World War II took place in 1991 during the Second Gulf War. Since then, about 300,000 troops have served abroad in campaigns from the Horn of Africa, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. More than 100 troops were killed.
A tricky search for a date
The defense minister’s plan has received mixed reactions. They were criticized by some opposition politicians, who were unsatisfied about the military being honored for Germany’s bloody past in the 20th century. But they were welcomed by the Bundeswehr, the German military, as well as members of the ruling Christian Democratic Party.
However, finding a suitable date for this date is quite difficult. De Maiziere originally suggested using the Volkstrauertag in November, a day of national mourning for soldiers and civilians killed in war and victims of violent oppression around the world.
The second suggestion is that Veterans Day will be celebrated on April 2 because on that day in 2010, three German soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. The defense commissioner of the German Parliament, Hellmut Königshaus supported the day. Now, de Maiziere has suggested that this day be celebrated on May 22 – the anniversary of the founding of the Bundeswehr in 1956.
Who’s a veteran?
One question has repeatedly popped up in the Veterans Day debates in Germany – who really qualifies as a veteran? Just soldiers who have served abroad or all older, long-serving soldiers?
Germany has not had Veterans Day since the Third Reich and, unlike France or the United States, commemorates the 7 million soldiers who died in two world wars. And, there were no “new” veterans of the Cold War because the Bundeswehr did not participate in combat operations.
“Veteran” is a word that has been increasingly used in recent years in Germany, mainly by soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Many people witnessed fighting scenes and were physically and psychologically injured. The troops considered their deployment to be war and called themselves veterans. In August 2010, the army established a representative association of the Bundeswehr in Berlin.
De Maiziere has acknowledged that the definition of veteran remains ambiguous in Germany. But it’s important, he said, to avoid divisions within the military among soldiers “with and without veteran status.”
So, now you know if Germany has Veterans Day? And how Veteran day celebrate in Germany? Germany is introducing to celebrate Veterans Day. What do you think? Have your say.