Following WWII and the defeat of the Nazis, the German constitution forbid the military, known as the Bundeswehr, to be used domestically except in instances of national emergency.
That post-war restriction may soon come to an end.
In the aftermath of the Munich attacks last week, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper it “would be completely incomprehensible … if we had a terrorist situation like Brussels in Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Munich and we were not permitted to call in the well-trained forces of the Bundeswehr, even though they stand ready.”
Herrmann said the restriction is now obsolete and Germans have a “right to safety.”
Thomas Strobl of the ruling Christian Democratic Party agreed. He said if Germany faces “a large-scale, serious terrorist situation, we must also bring in the Bundeswehr.”
The Greens and members of the Social Democratic Party warned against “domestic calls for more surveillance, isolation and military [intervention],” and added the Munich attack would be exploited politically.
The German government, however, had planned to lift restrictions on Bundeswehr prior to the Munich attack.
Bundeswehr preparing joint exercises with police, possible internal missions in vaguely defined cases of terrorismhttps://t.co/3EWuV6Dq8M
— Christoph Harig (@c_harig) July 9, 2016
In April, a white paper titled “Security Police and the Future of the Bundeswehr” was prepared by the defense ministry. It said threats in the wake of attacks in Paris and Brussels had made it necessary to “develop further, [and] put on a firm basis, an effective contribution of the Bundeswehr towards averting dangers on the borders for inner and outer security.”
— nachrichten heute (@nachrichtenheut) April 12, 2016
While the proposals were accepted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the opposition Left party criticized them and the Green Party said a revamped defense policy represents a “shift to the right.”
“The enforcement of state power remains the responsibility of the police,” Rainer Arnold, the defense committee spokesman of the Social Democrat Party of Germany, told Deutsche Welle in April.