“The highest trump for the freedom of the world remains the mutual the respect, the trust, and the friendship between the French and the German people” said Charles de Gaulle on September 9, 1962, before signing the Élysée Treaty. Fifty-three years later, Germany continues to abide by this statement and stands beside France in its mourning the November 13 attacks and in fighting against terrorism. The German Army will send 1200 soldiers over to fight ISIS. Foreign Minister Steinmeier described ISIS and its ideology as “an attack on Muslim and Western values and principles” as well as “a threat to international peace and security.” Among the leading Western countries, Germany is late to join the fight against ISIS. The US, France, and the UK have conducted airstrikes against the organisation since 2014; though hesitation on Germany’s part leads back to its history. Following World War II, Germany’s army remained small and for the sole purpose of national defense in order to prevent seizing of power and oppression. Soldiers are scarce as the general conscription was abolished a couple of years ago, combat vehicles and helicopters are said to be “rusty and dusty,” and the German population overall is skeptical about whether their army is prepared to fight–and for now, it won’t. The German anti-ISIS operation will merely support France in its fight, helping to limit collateral victims and provide frigates and reserve force; nonetheless, it will be the Germany’s first active effort since it joined the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan post-9/11.
A combat troop from the German army on a breakdown vehicle.
“We are getting closer to the scene of combat”
Back home, Germany has had to deal with right-wing radical groups spreading fear with demonstrations, minor attacks, and serial killings; but in recent years, with the rise of terrorism, it has also faced Islamist extremism. Many young men joined the movement from Germany. In fact, the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell had planned the 9/11 attacks. In 2014, the government officially prohibited any activity connected to ISIS and implemented a multi-million dollar Anti-Extremism Program in institutions around the country. Any domestic terrorist activity raises concerns as to whether the army and intelligence service have enough power. As of now, it is solely the responsibility of the police, and it will most likely remain that way. Memories of the Third Reich continue to haunt the Germans, but Germany will continue to stand with France as its ally in the fight against terrorism.
by Pauline F.