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Conscription Order

Homo Sapiens is a social animal. Yet when our governments step into our lives it’s often in a nasty way. That was definitively the case when I received my conscription order into the German army. It was delivered by registered mail, the mail-woman having recognized the sender tried to console me:

“Here, wipe your ass with it.”

But I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. So I went to the barracks in that little town near Hamburg at the aforementioned time. I was an avid newspaper reader, there had been soldiers at our school telling us about the army, the commander in chief was a Social Democrat and I thought I had an applicable image of the army in my head. It was 1979.

After entering the barracks through the gate it took me about 10 minutes to recognize that the mail-woman was right and that my splendidly informed picture of the German army was wrong. Shock and awe was the training strategy, humiliation and first of all: shouting, shouting, shouting.

We were prepared for atomic warfare, not to look into the flash of light when the a-bomb went off, to take shelter in cellars or dig a whole into the earth – and to wait there for further orders.

Had I not experienced it I would not have believed it. So it’s good I was there. I wonder what they tell soldiers today?

I hope I will never fall again for a public relations trap.

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