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Reconciliation at the Graveside

National Day of Mourning: Reconciliation at the Graveside

Written by: Inka v. Puttkamer; photographer: Katharina Roggmann

Hamburg, 19 November 2017

Admiral Stawitzki during his commemorative address on the occasion of the National Day of Mourning

First row, second from left: Dr. Liane Melzer, Director of the Altona District; third from left: Consul General of France in Hamburg, Laurent Toulouse

Representatives of different nations participated in the National Day of Mourning commemoration event

Die britische Band "Band of the Royal Armoured Corps"

The French Consul General Toulouse addressing the participants

German officers laying a wreath

The Italian Consul General Giorgio Taborri at the cemetery

Honorary Consul Nicholas Teller during the wreath-laying ceremony

This year, the commemorative ceremony on the occasion of the National Day of Mourning at the cemetery in Hamburg-Blankenese took place in a special setting: Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), had invited representatives of former German wartime enemies to join him in the wreath-laying ceremony. Representatives of the United States, Britain, France and Italy stood side by side with Germans to commemorate the dead. The idea to invite approximately 100 guests from different nations to commemorate the war dead is so far unique. Students of the international General/Admiral Staff Officer Course also attended the ceremony, which thus saw soldiers from four different continents assembled.

Many different languages, but one common prayer

In stormy November weather, the ceremony began with a prayer service led by the Protestant Military Dean at the BwCSC, Dr. Hartwig von Schubert. He reminded the audience of the atrocities of the wars. After the Lord's Prayer had been recited by all present—everyone praying in their native language—, he concluded that, on this day, they all bowed their heads as both perpetrators and victims, no matter which country they came from. Then the guests gathered around the cemetery's memorial stone.

"Commemoration must be firmly embedded within society"

Framed by an honor formation consisting of French officers studying at the Helmut Schmidt University (Bundeswehr University, Hamburg), Admiral Stawitzki then welcomed the numerous guests. Quoting from Erich Maria Remarque's novel “Im Westen nichts Neues” (All Quiet on the Western Front), he confronted the audience directly with the everyday life of an ordinary soldier fighting in a war that took place a hundred years ago. He emphasized that people from nations whose soldiers once went out to fight each other were now standing shoulder to shoulder: "On this day, we are standing here as friends, as allies and as partners—in the knowledge that we can only deal with the global challenges of our time if we all work together."

Peace in Europe

Admiral Stawitzki reminded his audience of the truly marvelous fact that Europe is experiencing the longest ever period of peace since World War II. "Only those who confront the past may learn from it." The past obliges us to always base our actions on the norms of humanity and the rule of law and to act with an open mind and a tolerant attitude at all times, Admiral Stawitzki pointed out. "This is our responsibility—to speak out decidedly and courageously, loudly and with all our strength, if need be, whenever human dignity is affected in any way." Saying this, the Commandant of the Command and Staff College also referred to the great number of soldiers, police officers, development aid workers and volunteers from all nations who are currently on missions abroad.

Remembrance and orientation

The Band of the British Royal Armoured Corps had come all the way from Great Britain to provide a worthy musical background for the event. As the band played the lament "Lied vom guten Kameraden" (The Good Comrade), a solemn atmosphere resonated among the guests that was expressed by the subsequent words of commemoration. An important message of this event was that on the National Day of Mourning we commemorate not only the soldiers fallen in World Wars I and II, but also the service members who were killed in action in the course of more than 60 years of Bundeswehr history, and the victims of terror and violence. The French Consul General Laurent Toulouse spoke on behalf of the international guests of honor. In a moving speech, he expressed his gratitude from the bottom of his heart—gratitude for the fact that for the first time, representatives of the former wartime enemies had come together for a commemorative ceremony. Consul General Toulouse stated that with sound patriotism and common sense, the past not only obliges us to commemorate but, first and foremost, to shape the future. And this holds true for all peoples and all nations. At this event, the future was represented by students of the "Lycée Français de Hambourg".



Towards the end of the ceremony, the guests of honor laid wreaths to the memorial stone: For Germany, Admiral Stawitzki laid down a wreath. For Italy, a wreath was laid by Consul General Giorgio Taborri; Honorary Consul Nicholas Teller laid a wreath to express the commemorative sentiment of Great Britain, and military attaché Colonel Terry Anderson did the same on behalf of the United States. Consul General Toulouse was the last to place a wreath. The ceremony then concluded with the French lament "Aux Morts", a minute of silence and finally the hopeful European anthem.


Assuming responsibility

After the ceremony, the guests returned to the BwCSC where they enjoyed a hearty pea soup and seized the opportunity to discuss the event. All agreed that it was the international framework that gave a special dignity to the entire ceremony. Dr. Liane Melzer, Director of the Altona District, addressed the guests in her capacity as a civil servant. She asked the question whether the National Day of Mourning still carried any significance as it seemed to be "far away from our day-to-day life". Her answer was a definite Yes, based on the need for international reconciliation. In view of recent conflicts within Europe, the objective of reconciliation will never lose its relevance. "Peace cannot be taken for granted"—Ms. Melzer concluded her speech by quoting Jean-Claude Juncker who, nine years ago on Remembrance Day, had called upon all eurosceptics to visit military cemeteries in order to become aware of the immeasurable suffering that a lack of international understanding had once brought about.


An exemplary event

The 2016 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course was chiefly responsible for the perfect organization of the commemoration ceremony. The positive response from all guests—coming from different countries, including both service members and civilians, the age span ranging from two to eighty years—clearly shows that the National Day of Mourning is not just a remnant from the past but an event observed with active remembrance at the BwCSC and at the cemetery in Blankenese. All generations do their best to live up to the aforementioned responsibility.





Networking at the BwCSC: Welcome Night for Spouses and Partners

Autor: Jana Grigoleit; Fotos: Jana Grigoleit

Hamburg, 30.11.2017

Many partners of students at the BwCSC accepted the invitation to the Welcome Night"

 Getting to know each other

Making new friends from all over the world

Being the highest-level training institution of the German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC) is special in many respects: Soldiers from altogether 120 different nations have studied at the college in the past 60 years. Currently, students of about 50 different nationalities are attending courses at the college day by day. Many of them have come to Hamburg with their families. They have not only come to a city they are unfamiliar with but also to a new country and in many cases to a new continent, too. In order to make it easier for them to arrive in their new environment and to facilitate the exchange of information that is vital particularly to newly arrived families in the Hanseatic city, three women have decided to support the process of getting to know each other. They initiated the BwCSC Welcome Night.

Commitment is Key

Frauke Lüchow, Kimberly Jordan and Captain Jana Grigoleit are wives or partners of current or former students at the BwCSC. They invited the families of officers studying on the recently started National and International General/Admiral Staff Officer Courses to come together within the scope of a welcome evening. "We've been doing this because we want to provide the newly arrived families with useful information and facilitate their start in Hamburg. Finally, they are all faced with a new language, a new housing situation, new schools for the kids and an entirely new environment," says Frauke Lüchow, who is the partner of Major Hille. The reaction to their invitation was overwhelming: 48 partners of students from twelve different nations attended the event. Even some "older" families participated in the event and shared their experiences with those that had newly arrived.

Well-Planned Program

The evening started with a tour of the BwCSC. As there are many events taking place on the premises of the BwCSC, it is important to know the names and locations of the most important buildings as for instance the Henning von Tresckow Building, the Admiral von Wellershof Building or the Manfred Wörner Center. In the mess association, Frauke Lüchow then officially welcomed the families and told them about her own experiences. Since earlier this year, she has been in charge of organizing the mothers and toddlers cafe at the Graf von Baudissin Barracks. "When you have children, it is much easier to get into contact and establish social networks," she explained. Many nodded their heads showing that they had gained similar experiences. The guests gladly received brochures containing information about the MWR Office, about nearby playing-grounds, sights, doctors and many more aspects in Hamburg. At dinner, the first phone numbers were exchanged.

New Faces, New Friends

Kurt Tucholsky once said: "Friendship, that's like home." Considering the event under this motto, the evening was a complete success. All guests were glad they had come and they all seized the opportunity to get into contact with each other and pave the way for new bonds of friendship. "Such a network is invaluable," also confirmed Kimberly Jordan. Not only for the guests but also for the organizers, this first Welcome Night was very informative. "It is always fascinating to see how quickly friendship and mutual understanding develop among nationals from so different parts of the world here at the BwCSC," says Lüchow. The event was a great success and everyone is looking forward to more to come: And indeed, the organizers are already planning to gather the families on an afternoon in the Advent season and also to go on excursions together.

Federal Minister of Defence Kicks Off Workshop on Tradition

Autor: Inka von Puttkamer; Fotos: Laura Clayborn, Michael Gundelach

Hamburg, 18.08.2017

Federal Minister of Defence and Chief of the Defence Staff arriving at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

General Volker Wieker, Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki

Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen during her opening statement

Participants of the workshop on the Bundeswehr Guidelines on Tradition

Professor Dr Loretana de Libero giving her introductory presentation

Lieutenant General (ret.) Ton van Loon during his presentation



Federal Minister of Defence Kicks Off Workshop on Tradition at Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

At the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), Federal Minister of Defence Dr Ursula von der Leyen kicked off the first of a series of workshops aimed at reviewing and rewriting the 1982 Guidelines on Tradition and the Cultivation of Tradition in the Bundeswehr. In altogether four discussion meetings, German military personnel, service members from partner nations and representatives from politics, society and the Churches will work together to develop new Guidelines on Tradition for the Bundeswehr. Subsequent meetings will be held in Koblenz, Potsdam and Berlin. "The tradition of the Bundeswehr within the contexts of a European defence identity and a transatlantic security partnership" was the overarching topic of this first workshop.

"I can't imagine a better place for this"

In her opening statement, Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that there are not one but two reasons why the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College is the ideal place for launching this series of workshops. For one thing, the BwCSC represents the highest standards of education employed in training our future military leaders, and this includes a close examination and an in-depth analysis of our understanding of tradition. For another, the institution can draw on a wealth of expertise and different points of view, as one glance at the many different uniforms in the audience confirmed. A good quarter of the almost 300 people listening to the minister's speech were soldiers from other countries who are taking courses at the Command and Staff College, contributing their individual expertise. The Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, said he felt honored that the College was chosen to hold this opening event. Extending a warm welcome to all participants, he expressed his hope to gain useful insights from studying the past to be able to answer questions concerning the future.

Four major changes have taken place since 1982

After pointing out that today the Bundeswehr is already twice as old as it was in 1982 and can therefore draw on twice as much experience, Ursula von der Leyen elaborated on the things that have changed for the German Armed Forces since the Guidelines on Tradition and the Cultivation of Tradition in the Bundeswehr were adopted 35 years ago: From a heavily mechanized force of deterrence during the Cold War, the Bundeswehr has changed into an operational army that is equally capable of contributing to collective defence and engaging in international crisis management. This also implies a change in the soldiers' self-perception, because giving one's life as the ultimate sacrifice is no longer a mere theory but has become part of operational reality. At the same time, the Bundeswehr has become more diverse due to the suspension of compulsory military service and the increase in the number of recruits from different backgrounds and of different gender. Apart from that, the minister underlined the multinational commitments of the Bundeswehr: Assuming responsibility toward our partners, NATO and the EU has become second nature to our armed forces. The minister also referred to German society in general, which has become more open but also more critical in many respects. All these developments require a reconsideration of tradition and of the ways in which we cultivate it.

Acceptance within society

"Throughout the Bundeswehr, tradition is supposed to serve as a compass that provides our soldiers with orientation, guidance, and standards for their own actions—during routine duty as well as in an operational environment. And, most importantly, in existentially extreme situations which may well arise during operations." Given these ambitious demands, the revision of the Guidelines on Tradition must not be accomplished in a hurry, Ursula von der Leyen stated. She placed particular importance on the "compatibility" of the Bundeswehr's understanding of tradition with society's views and with insights from both the past and the present. This is the reason why so many civil representatives were invited to participate in the workshops. Only if the people understand what the Bundeswehr soldiers are proud of, can they also be proud of their army.

"The German Wehrmacht cannot be a foundation for our military tradition"

The identity of the Bundeswehr must be reflected in its understanding of tradition. This encompasses the liberal values our soldiers swear to defend with their own lives and more: it includes the military virtues of valour, comradeship, truthfulness and care. As for identifying role models, the minister cautioned her audience against expecting clear answers. Focusing on prominent figures from German armed forces of the past, in particular, would bring historical ruptures and frictions to the fore, leaving many issues to be discussed. Any action, its purpose and its objective, must be evaluated within its historical context. "The German Wehrmacht cannot be a foundation for the Bundeswehr's military tradition," the minister stated, and went on to emphasise that, this notwithstanding, individual soldiers wearing a Wehrmacht uniform, such as Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, could very well be such a foundation. Thus, scrupulous consideration was required and would lead to a healthy understanding of tradition. Distinguishing between history and tradition in this way meant that events from the recent past could also become part of a proud Bundeswehr tradition. Ursula von der Leyen was keen to point out that the Bundeswehr indeed has a history worth telling.

National and international military cultures of remembrance

Before the workshop participants began their extensive detail work in the four panels, Dr Loretana de Libero, professor and lecturer at the Command and Staff College, gave an introductory presentation on commemorative culture in the Bundeswehr, and Lieutenant General (ret.) Ton van Loon of the Royal Netherlands Army elaborated on international military cultures of remembrance. De Libero described a certain "uneasiness" among the members of the Bundeswehr when it comes to appreciating their own achievements. Naming a number of impressive examples, she demonstrated that many events and individuals can be found in the Bundeswehr's recent past which are worthy of providing the foundations for military tradition. Service members killed on operations are commemorated in the "Forest of Remembrance" in Potsdam. So some steps have been taken towards a cultivation of tradition originating in the missions of the Bundeswehr. In conclusion, the professor said that from her point of view, the Bundeswehr as a "best ager" has not yet realized what an inspiring repertoire it has to offer. Gen. van Loon followed up on the minister's words saying that tradition is part of the esprit de corps that is necessary to be able to fight and to give something meaningful to a soldier when embarking on a mission. Moreover, tradition provides a sense of community—between companies as much as within multinational units. Referring to the introduction of compulsory military service for women in the Netherlands in 2017, he stated that tradition is also something dynamic. Thus coming back to the objective of reviewing the Guidelines on Tradition in the Bundeswehr, Gen. van Loon put it in a nutshell: "Progress is not a pretext for not changing things, it is the courage to change things."












"We Can Learn a Great Deal From One Another"

Autor: FüAkBw; Fotos: Bundeswehr

Hamburg, 27.07.2017

State-of-the-art training rooms: Jeff LaMoe, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, is giving Rear Admiral Stawitzki a tour of the Lewis & Clark Center in Fort Leavenworth

Symbol of a long-standing affiliation between two countries: A statue of Frederick the Great in the Carlisle Barracks, seat of the Army War College

Transatlantic friendship: In the German Army liaison staff conference room in Leavenworth, Rear Adm. Stawitzki receives a gift from Maj. Gen. Kem—a chronicle of the Leavenworth military installation

Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, pays inaugural visit to US partner institutions

All of a sudden, Germany seems to be much closer than the long flight across the Atlantic would suggest: In the Lewis & Clark Center in Fort Leavenworth, Rear Adm. Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), "runs into" his superior, the acting Chief of the Defence Staff, General Volker Wieker.

The general's picture hangs on the Wall of Fame of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), right next to the portrait of Lt. General Jörg Vollmer, Chief of the German Army. Both of them completed the Command and General Staff Officers Course of the US Army in Fort Leavenworth after having studied at the BwCSC—as did numerous high-ranking military decision-makers from all over the world and 27 heads of government, four of whom are still in office. The CGSC is one of the top institutions in the field of professional military education and for more than 50 years has been a cooperation partner for the BwCSC. Reason enough for Rear Adm. Stawitzki to take advantage of the first week of college holidays to pay an overseas visit: "During the busy months that followed the German Minister of Defense's presentation of her vision for the future of our Command and Staff College on 3 November, we set the course for the upcoming development of the BwCSC. Now I think it's important to demonstrate our commitment to our partners abroad." Rear Adm. Stawitzki's schedule for his visit to Fort Leavenworth included a conversation with Maj. Gen. John S. Kem, Provost of the Army University and Deputy Commandant of the CGSC, a meeting with teaching staff and representatives of the Army University Press and, of course, talks with German CGSC students and permanent personnel.

A busy schedule indeed. And that goes for the rest of the week, too: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was actually the fourth stop on his trip to the United States. During the three days before, the Commandant of the BwCSC had already visited the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington D.C., the Army War College in Carlisle, and the Naval War College in Newport where met with his respective counterparts. Leaving Leavenworth, he then moved on to the USAF's Air University in Montgomery, Alabama. Rear Adm. Stawitzki summarizes: "In many respects, the education and training of top-level military personnel in the U.S. is different from what we do at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. In other areas, however, we have a lot in common. I particularly wanted to gain a comprehensive impression of how our partner across the Atlantic prepares the members of its military leadership elite for their challenging future responsibilities. This is why I wanted to visit the training institutions of all services." Against the backdrop of the minister's assignment to further develop the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College into a strategic think tank, Admiral Stawitzki's main focus was on the question of how the U.S. military trains strategists and how it contributes to the country's strategic capabilities by means of research projects and scientific publications. "I am learning a great deal with regard to the areas of strategic capability and networking with many different experts, and also in terms of methods, such as war gaming at the highest level." What initially had been planned as a series of inaugural visits to the US partner institutions by Adm. Stawitzki now—in view of the ongoing further development of the Command and Staff College—turned out to be an inspiring exchange of ideas for the Commandant who was appointed only in September 2016. "Of course we cannot simply copy models that work well in the U.S. and transfer them directly to our institution. This notwithstanding, the NDU and the war colleges have excellent programs in place. I thoroughly enjoyed the open exchange of ideas that took place at the command level as well as in my conversations with faculty personnel. Talking to German students at all five institutions completed the picture for me. One thing is obvious: We can learn a great deal from one another. And my trip confirmed what is most important to me: Our transatlantic partnership and the ties that bind us together 'across the pond' remain as strong as ever."

After six days in the U.S., Rear Adm. Stawitzki is now back in Hamburg. Most of the college staff are away on their well-deserved summer holiday. The Commandant and his team, however, are already starting to plan the next official visit: In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Commandant intends to visit the defense academies of the partners involved in the Combined Joint European Exercise.

Here you will find a short note on -> Rear Adm. Stawitzki's visit to the United States Army Combined Arms Center <-

Quo Vadis, German Army? Chief of the Army Informs About Current Developments

Autor: Frank Magnus ; Fotos: Katharina Junge

Hamburg, 21.07.2017

Guest lectures can be fun to listen to

Shaping the future together—student engaged in a discussion with the Chief of the Army

General Vollmer reporting on current developments in the German Armyr

Lieutenant General Jörg Vollmer, Chief of the German Army, regularly visits "his" Army soldiers at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College and enjoys very much to do so. During his latest visit, he was particularly interested in obtaining information about the further development of the Command and Staff College as directed by the Minister of Defense, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, in her guiding speech on 3 November 2016 (click here for a transcript of the minister's speech)). Lt. General Vollmer especially wanted to gain insight into the current developments regarding the establishment of a think tank, competence-oriented education and the revision of the course concepts. Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, had an extensive conversation with the Chief of the Army, during which he covered all developments that took place during the past months as well as those planned for the near future.

Digitalization of training elements

In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute, the Army Branch has developed an innovative tool: the Digital Map Table. It enables soldiers to conduct operational planning in a multidimensional approach on a digital map that is equipped with a vast quantity of information. Operators can retrieve all the data available in the Bundeswehr and use them to arrive at a comprehensive assessment of the situation. "The map table provides us with unprecedented possibilities to process and assemble information in a very compact manner. I am thrilled and delighted that this tool is being used here at the highest-level training institution of the Bundeswehr," Vollmer summarized his impressions.

Looking ahead

General Vollmer concluded the busy program of his day at the Command and Staff College by giving a presentation on the current situation of the German Army. He explained: "All things considered, the security situation has deteriorated. The Army's tasks include the entire range of both ongoing operations—from Afghanistan to Africa—and standby commitments such as those in the Baltic region." According to the Chief of the Army, national and alliance defense and stabilization operations must be accorded equal importance and performed at the same time. As a result, this means that our personnel must be perfectly trained at all levels, not only in a variety of different operations, but also down to the last detail involved in their tasks. Moreover, our soldiers must be supplied with sufficient and mission-ready equipment. Vollmer left no doubt about the fact that this is a Herculean task, yet also emphasized that the trend reversals initiated by the Federal Ministry of Defense have already created some leeway for the Army.

Trend reversals gaining momentum

Trend reversals have been launched in the areas of personnel, equipment and financing. In this context, the increasing multinationalization offers additional courses of action. With his closing remarks, General Vollmer proved that he has the necessary enthusiasm to tackle all the aforementioned challenges: "I take great pleasure in doing my job. However, I can't do it all by myself; I need your help and support. So, please get involved and contribute your ideas so that together we may shape the future of the German Army."







Chief of the German Defense Staff Answers Direct Questions

Autor: Inka von Puttkamer ; Fotos: Katharina Junge

Hamburg, 06.07.2017

General Wieker: "Security has its cost''"

Admiral Carsten Stawitzki during his opening remarks

Two high-ranking officers ready for action

Strengthening togetherness

General Volker Wieker, Chief of the German Defense Staff, had come to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College to hold a lecture to Germany's future general/admiral staff officers and to exchange views and have personal talks with them. Speaking in front of the participants of the Field Officer Basic Course (FOBC) and the "Fundamentals of Operational Command and Control and Planning" Seminar, the German Armed Forces' highest-ranking soldier encouraged the officers to be "frank and open". Over the years, his annual visits to the FOBC have become a good tradition and although it is a "challenge to reach everyone in the Bundeswehr with the messages we consider so important", he enjoys these visits very much.

Clear and Direct Questions

In these eventful times, General Wieker places particular importance on personal talks. And the young officers, who have just embarked upon their path as career personnel, take him at his word. They ask questions that are personal, controversial and provocative and deal with everything currently discussed in the Bundeswehr: the high level of operational stress, current discussions in the media about the troops, questions regarding issues such as personnel, materiel and budget but also questions about internal communication and procurement projects.

Unvarnished Answers

General Wieker answers candidly, and he encounters great open-mindedness and honesty on the side of the students—for instance from a company commander from Donauwörth who shares her personal experiences with him and the other students. This requires trust, and indeed, there is trust on both sides. The general's answers clearly show how he defines his role as a mediator between the soldiers and the political leadership at the Federal Ministry of Defense. "Our common aim is always in the foreground", the general says.

Considerable Improvements

He underlines the positive developments of the last legislative period and in this context mentions not only the significant budget increase and the raise in the number of personnel but also effective advertisement measures and Germany's participation in the set-up of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. This leads him on to the security situation Germany is facing currently. "Security has its cost", he explains and after listing a variety of examples reaching from the Crimea Crisis to the stationing of NATO troops in the Baltic states, he explains that Germany is considered a reliable and responsible partner in Europe. The international community has expectations with regard to Germany as a middle power. National and alliance defense have come into focus again, General Wieker explains and also points to the presentation of the results of the National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course on the topic "Defining National and Alliance Defense Anew".

Comradely Words

At the end, the students ask the general what central message they should take home from the FOBC. With a view to the course's new format which is competence-oriented training without a final examination, his answer is that the restructured course is aimed at taking advantage of the overall personality of each student and at unfolding his or her talents (click here for more information on competence-oriented training). There is no doubt that there is currently a great need for talks between all hierarchic levels of the Bundeswehr. According to General Wieker, it "takes time for the new developments to take effect" and he stresses that "all personnel working in the Bundeswehr must travel this road together to be successful." Despite his very busy schedule, the topic of communication is on top of his priority list. He states: "I'd rather stick to speaking with each other than talk about each other." Given this motto, the next FOBC can also look forward to hearing honest and unfiltered words of its highest-ranking superior in the late summer months.

Working with His Heart and Mind to the Benefit of Young Leaders

Author: Christiane Rodenbücher; Photos: Katharina Junge

Hamburg, 09 June 2017

Brigadier General Thomas Hambach during his farewell speech


Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki with Brigadier General Hambach, outgoing Director of Academic Programs, and Jörn Thießen, his interim successor


Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel provided an adequate musical setting

Brigadier General Hambach and his wife during the reception

Invited guests in the rotunda during the farewell ceremony

Jörn Thießen, interim Director of Academic Programs

"Demanding and challenging"— this is how Brigadier General Thomas Hambach describes the past years. Three years ago, he was assigned the position of Director of Academic Programs at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. "To be allowed to think about what we should teach our future field-grade officers and general/admiral staff officers given the fact that we cannot foresee future developments and to think about how we can teach all this in the best possible way"—for General Hambach, this has always been a very enriching experience. He is sad to leave Hamburg but he is also looking forward to his new assignment as Deputy Commander, Bundeswehr Logistics Command in Erfurt. For the time being, the acting Director of Academic Programs is Jörn Thießen, Head of the Political and Social Sciences Department.

Personal Commitment

During a solemn ceremony, the Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, thanked General Hambach for his great commitment and meaningful contributions to the training institution emphasizing his personal and sensitive approach to all subject matters. With high-ranking guest from politics, the economy and the society but also from different fields of the armed forces, altogether 150 people participated in the farewell ceremony.

Thanks to all Staff Members

In his speech, the general quoted Confucius to express the pleasure he felt every day of his assignment at the college: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." He emphasized that he felt this pleasure only because of the professional support from all soldiers and staff members thanking them with the words: "I wasn't given the choice but it is essentially thanks to you all that I felt so much pleasure and gratitude in serving at this college."

Added Value in Training and Education

Aside from imparting pure theory and practice, General Hambach always considered it important to create an added value for the students during their training and education at the BwCSC. In our modern, often very challenging and volatile time, it has been his major concern to share his personal experiences with his students so that our leaders of tomorrow are well prepared for the future.

Confident Action

Using the three words "ability", "willingness" and "permission," he made clear what kind of added value the training and education at the BwCSC is to create for the students: "Ability" stands for the military leaders' capability to act in any given situation. "Willingness" stands for the leaders' willingness to act and for their will to constantly develop their personality. The aspect of "permission" complements the other two aspects: Only if we manage to constantly provide an adequate framework here at the college, our officers can put their personal understanding of command and control to the test.

Encouraging Error Management

Within the scope of training and education, committing errors is quite a natural thing, General Hambach explained adding that the BwCSC is "the perfect place for such an experience." With this principle, the general complemented his description of the BwCSC's training objective to the shaping of which he contributed so much during his assignment as Director of Academic Programs. He also touched an aspect that still is of great importance to him and that from his point of view, puts the demands made particularly on general/admiral staff officers in a nutshell: How can we convey leadership skills that represent our unique concept of Leadership Development and Civic Education, in German known as "Innere Führung"?

Creativity and Responsibility

"To express one's own intent in such a fashion that there is still leeway for the necessary creativity and imagination" is a challenge General Hambach has known very well and he has always strived to convey this aspect to the students at the BwCSC. "Delegating responsibility but also taking on responsibility. Trusting others but also earning the trust of others. Both aspects represent two sides of the same coin." During his speech, the general did not only look back to the past but also focused on the current tasks and challenges the college is facing. In this context, he mentioned particularly challenging and volatile conditions and reminded the audience of the fact that change always takes time.

Criticism and Abundance of Ideas

"Carrying out the assignment as Director of Academic Programs was sometimes more and sometimes less easy. Leaving the job, however, is quite hard for me," the general explained. "[T]hat I enjoyed my time at the college as I did is essentially due to the staff of the college, the heads of department, the lecturers and the many reservists. I am very grateful for how I was received at this college and for the openness and particularly for the trust, criticism and advice I was given and for everyone's commitment and abundance of ideas.“

"Not an Easy Task"

In his words to General Hambach, Admiral Stawitzki pointed out that during the general's time at the BwCSC, 200,000 classes were given by 100 lecturers and more than 500 guest lecturers to soldiers from more than 100 nations. The admiral continued: "Let me express my sincere gratitude for your work and commitment and for the fact that you have carried out this challenging assignment with all your heart and mind and with a great deal of sensitivity." The commandant appreciated the general's "set of skills and tools," his elaborate methods, his critical stance and his constructive cooperation. "You have initiated and promoted all this—thank you very much for your efforts." Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel headed by Commander Szepanski provided a worthy setting for the farewell ceremony. They played pieces in minor and major keys emphasizing both the melancholy aspects of saying farewell and the cheerful moments of the past years but also reflecting the joyful anticipation of the new assignment.


Using All Potential: Diversity Day at the FüAkBw in Hamburg

Using All Potential: Diversity Day at the Führungsakademie in Hamburg

Author: Jürgen Bredtmann ; Photos: Michael Gundelach/Laura Clayborn

Hamburg, 31 May 2017

Music band "Cause of Action"

Dr. Maren Tomforde organized the project

Confident of the strengths and talents of "his" men and women: Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki

Photographer Katharina Junge developed the concept for the exhibition and photos

Active involvement of the audience in the improv play

Dr. Petra Köppel "open our minds to unfamiliar things"

Questionnaires for self-evaluation

The photos will be shown as a touring exhibition at other places, too.

Even the music was full of diversity. Playing unplugged with two guitars, one keyboard, one cajón and three vocalists, the band “Cause of Action” took the audience through a colorful Diversity Day at the BwCSC in Hamburg.  The Bundeswehr has supported the Diversity Charter since 2012, and this time a photo exhibition was the central event.

"Through this photo exhibition we want to show the diversity of the personnel serving in Hamburg’s Bundeswehr agencies," said BwCSC's photographer Katharina Junge, explaining the concept behind the project "Diversity in Uniform". 70 military or civilian staff members from Hamburg's Bundeswehr agencies volunteered as models for this exhibition. They were portrayed in their uniforms or workwear and in their casual or hobby outfit with a third photo showing an object each person considers to be important in his or her life.

Full Body Portraits with Texts

The photos are complemented by interviews concerning the person's private and professional identity— with quotations from these interviews supplementing the fascinating full body portraits. Who is actually the person behind this uniform or workwear? "In our busy daily working routine, we often perceive people in their official functions only. The individuals behind these functions and all their interests, abilities and all their potential often remain hidden," said Dr. Maren Tomforde, who works as a lecturer at the BwCSC and had taken the lead responsibility in organizing the Bundeswehr's Diversity Day in Hamburg.

A Framework to Promote Talents

The Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki, had previously opened the central event of the day in the Gneisenau Hall of the Manfred Wörner Center at the Clausewitz Barracks. "If you look at my family name, you may recognize that my ancestors came from East Prussia. This is a fact that caused me quite some trouble when I was looking for an apartment in 1992," said the Commandant with a view to his manifold experience with prejudices. "Forming efficient teams that are able to solve tasks jointly and that sometimes need to be more homogenous and sometimes more heterogeneous—this is our leadership task, be it at the operating table, in a small combat group or during a meeting," the admiral continued. The working atmosphere was the essential aspect that decided whether a person stayed at a workplace or quit the job.

Subconscious Stereotyped Thinking

The BwCSC organized the fifth national Diversity Day in Hamburg in close cooperation with the city's other Bundeswehr agencies. From 9.30 a.m., about 250 representatives from the Bundeswehr hospital, the Helmut Schmidt University, the Land Command and the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College gathered at the Clausewitz Barack for a meeting. "With a view to the seven dimensions of diversity—ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation, individual abilities, religion and world view, age, gender and social background—the diversity at these agencies is quite impressive. It brings many challenges but also numerous opportunities because we human beings are able to reflect over matters," the admiral said.  

A Day Full of Inspirations

Keynote speaker Dr. Petra Köppel from consulting firm Synergy Consult pointed out how valuable diversity is for the Bundeswehr. "Diversity is not always visible. The first impression often causes us to make judgements about the whole person," she warned. Experience, values and attitudes are something you don't see at first sight. "Diversity can only bring to bear its advantages and contribute to more job satisfaction and better task management if there is mutual respect."

Diversity is a Management Task

"Diversity is a management task and it starts at the top," the consultant said. She explained that in our complex world, it is absolutely necessary to have categories - but that these might distort things or lead us to be guided by patterns. It is therefore important to differentiate between describing and judging a person and therefore to question one's first impression and allow for criticism. "Aspects such as questioning oneself, changing one's patterns of thinking and leaving one's comfort zone are a prerequisite for dealing with uncertainty, for allowing for unfamiliar things and for being curious and able to change oneself," Dr. Köppel emphasized. It's all about using potential—the potential of all personnel.

Colorful Diversity

In the afternoon, three workshops were conducted focusing on diversity management on an equal-opportunity basis as a leadership task, on diversity practice in the Bundeswehr and on related experiences and challenges with regard to the compatibility of family and service. Parallel to the workshops, the Kaleidoskop theater group from Hamburg Altona performed the improv play "Diversity" with active audience involvement. The actors asked the audience questions on diversity in general and then acted out the answers. The result was a lot of laughter from the audience: "We recognized ourselves pretty well in the play."

Presentation of Diversity Initiatives

Good communication, clear requirements and the confidence to be allowed to open up oneself are essential prerequisites for the success of initiatives such as diversity-related panels and bodies, the diversity symposium, questionnaires for personnel, the academic postgraduate master program "Leading Diversity", the dialog of cultures or the one-week seminar on diversity and the 2018 Diversity Day.


At the end, the commandant summarized this most informative day very positively: "What impressed me most was the good atmosphere that prevailed during the entire day. The keynote speech held by Dr. Petra Köppel, the surprise performance of the BwCSC band, the workshops that provided so many valuable ideas and impulses and of course the photo exhibition. It was this mixture of events that made the whole day fabulous."


Danish Admiral Visiting the Führungsakademie

Author: Stefan Berger; Photos: Katharina Junge

Hamburg, 17 May 2017

Admiral Stawitzki welcoming Admiral Trojahn to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

Signing the College's guest book

Talks among admirals




Visit of Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Frank Trojahn, Chief of Naval Staff of the Royal Danish Navy to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

With officers from all over the world studying at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, the campus brims with colorful and varied uniforms. In an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding, personal contacts easily develop and networks are quickly established. It is no surprise then, when former students return to the college as visitors. One such visitor was welcomed at the BwCSC on 11 May 2017. Twenty years after the beginning of his two-year training on the 1997 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course, former student Frank Trojahn—meanwhile a rear admiral (upper half)—returned to the college for a short visit.

The College Then and Today

After talks with the Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki, and the Director of Academic Management, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Karsten Schneider, Admiral Trojahn gladly seized the opportunity to take a walk through the Clausewitz Barracks. In the Navy Branch, the Admiral encountered a former fellow student of the 39th Admiral Staff Officer Course and both enjoyed their memories of the good old days. "Much of what I see today is new, but there are also several things that are still familiar to me. It feels like coming home. The new modern auditoriums and the Manfred Wörner Center are quite impressive. Most enjoyable, however, is the pleasant atmosphere on campus," Admiral Trojahn said in talks with the Head of the Navy Branch and Representative of the Chief of the German Navy at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Captain Straus.

Opinion Exchange with Students

During his walk through the barrack, the Danish Chief of Naval Staff was accompanied by a Danish student from the 2015 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course. Lieutenant Commander Nicolai Svane informed his superior in detail about his experiences with the college's current training approach, which today, not only focuses on military topics but also on social or economic issues.

The Cooperation Continues

"For Denmark, Germany is an important strategic partner in the region," said Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Trojahn at the end of his visit. "We will gladly continue our cooperation with this remarkable training institution and seize the training opportunities it offers.“ Indeed, another Danish naval field-grade officer will study on the next National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course. So maybe, he too, will visit the college as an admiral one day.

Führungsakademie - Example of Sustainable IT Support

Auteur : Maximilian Voß; photos: Michael Gundelach, Laura Clayborn

Hamburg, 02.02.2017

Commandant of the Führungsakademie and BWI IT regions manager signing the concept

Federal Minister of Defence, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, during her speech given in November last year

A new basis for the further development of the IT landscape used at the Führungsakademie

The partners' commitment pays dividends

BWI IT representatives visiting the Führungsakademie for the occasion

The signing of the concept kicks off the next stage

Klicken Sie hier für den Mittschnitt des Interviews.

Today, the Commandant of the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, and the BWI IT regions manager, Dr. Adrian Overberg, signed a concept on the further development of the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie in Hamburg. This concept covers many aspects: First of all, it includes the results of a report on all IT systems currently used at the institution. Furthermore, it describes specific solutions tailored to the needs of the Führungsakademie and lays out the path towards possible adaptations of the BWI IT services. As Stawitzki puts it: "Now we are gathering at the starting line to embark on this journey together." The signing of the concept symbolizes the kick-off for the next stage of the project. Based on this document, the next step is to get down to detailed planning: How can our partners achieve their goals? How can they continue to adapt the capabilities required by the Führungsakademie to the challenges of the future?

Objective: To become the avant-garde of the Bundeswehr

During her visit to the Führungsakademie in November, the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, stated: "I want the Führungsakademie to evolve further." She added: "Among other things, good teaching is a question of technology." For this reason, the Führungsakademie should be the avant-garde of the Bundeswehr in terms of digitalization, e-learning and correspondence courses. "And if there are any obstacles in terms of technical or structural infrastructure, well, they are there to be overcome," the Minister demanded. Even before that, the German Joint Support Service Headquarters had initiated a further development program for the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie, triggering the local IT team to prepare a concept for a sustainable solution.

A special status

At present, the Führungsakademie with its own individual IT landscape enjoys a special status among the German armed forces. Within the Bundeswehr, the institution is an "IT island" that is not yet fully serviced by the Bundeswehr Information Technology (BWI) network, the Bundeswehr's central IT service provider. Due to its special status as an international military teaching institution, the Führungsakademie so far has been operating an independent IT network. The entire IT equipment is managed by highly qualified IT personnel. These IT experts are also responsible for user support and for managing the IT services for the whole facility. In due course, additional IT services from the HERKULES project providing the entire office communication for the Bundeswehr are to be used at the Führungsakademie. To this end, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support and with the BWI IT, the local IT experts have conducted a comprehensive inventory of the existing IT systems.

New solutions – not only in Hamburg

Moreover, with the Interoperable Cloud Computing (IOCC) study, the BWI has been tasked to evaluate the possibilities arising from cloud computing with regard to potential applications in the armed forces. IOCC would allow military and civilian employees to access and work with data and programs from any location. The further development of the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie provides a good opportunity to try out the use of cloud computing in this environment. This way, the Führungsakademie could become a cloud computing pioneer in the German armed forces and maybe also an example for other Bundeswehr agencies, able to provide them with advice and support in similar projects together with the BWI IT. Before that, however, the necessary technical, economic and organizational prerequisites must be created.

New ideas

The jointly prepared concept takes into account the particular conditions required by the teaching activities conducted at the Führungsakademie and aims at preparing the entire IT landscape for the challenges of the future. Networking is a key aspect in this context – networking beyond national borders with other armed forces and allies. "Certain things at the Führungsakademie are simply different. Training senior national and international officers makes special demands on us that cannot be compared with other Bundeswehr schools and training institutions," Stawitzki explained. "Therefore, we must identify what exactly the IT user needs."

A clear objective in mind

The aim pursued by further developing the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie is to provide all its members with IT services such as telephones, computers and servers in accordance with their missions and requirements. The provided equipment is to be up-to-date and sufficiently high-performing to comply with the requirements derived from the IT strategy of the Federal Ministry of Defence and its agenda "The Bundeswehr Leads the Way – An Active, Attractive Alternative".

Prepared for everything

At the same time, a risk management system is to be implemented to a necessary degree in order to guarantee IT security without sacrificing flexibility with regard to the provision of IT services. In different workshops, representatives of the parties involved will work towards drawing up a plan on how to put all of this into practice. Rear Admiral Stawitzki urges: "We must link up more closely and lend an ear to each other's concerns. This is the only way we can succeed in identifying the requirements of the future and provide the necessary resources such as material, personnel and training to meet them in a sustainable manner."

New Year Reception Marks New Beginnings

New Year Reception Marks New Beginnings: "Strengthening

Competence of Action"

By: Maximilian Voß; photographers: Katharina Junge; Laura Clayborn

Hamburg, 24.01.2017

The Commandant of the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr welcoming the numerous guests

Mr. and Mrs. Warburg and Minister of State Aydan Özoğuz enjoying the relaxed atmosphere during the New Year reception

Katharina Fegebank, Deputy Mayor of Hamburg, representing the Hamburg City-State Parliament

The Federal Agency for Technical Relief, the THW, also sent a representative: Armin Hitzemann

Captain Michael Setzer welcoming the approx. 500 invited guests in the Scharnhorst hall

Collaboration between the different agencies will continue to be of vital importance in the future, too

Musical entertainment provided by the group "Die Anker" (The Anchors), made up of students of the Helmut Schmidt University

The heads of the five largest Bundeswehr agencies in Hamburg together with the Deputy Mayor of Hamburg. From left to right: Jülf Draheim (Bundeswehr Service Center in Hamburg), Captain Michael Setzer (Land Command Hamburg), Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki (Führungsakademie), Katharina Fegebank (Deputy Mayor), Prof. Dr. Wilfried Seidel (Helmut Schmidt University), Brigadier General (MC) Dr. Joachim Hoitz (Bundeswehr Hospital)

"Changes often require some form of external encouragement." At the reception held within the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg, the Commandant, Rear Admiral Stawitzki, began his welcoming speech by quoting General Scharnhorst, and proceeded to place the historical example of the Prussian military reformer at the center of his remarks regarding the future of this educational institution. Scharnhorst seized the opportunity of an epochal caesura to initiate ground-breaking reforms. Our world has changed yet again, and the Führungsakademie is called upon, now more than ever, to address and adapt to these changes in order to be able to prepare our future leaders for their tasks in the best way possible. The increased importance of the Command and Staff College has also been underlined by a recent transfer of authority: The Führungsakademie is now directly subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Staff.

State-of-the-art education and training

The further development of basic, advanced and follow-on training and instruction at the Führungsakademie will go hand in hand with a wide range of comprehensive transformations. The Admiral explained: "The fundamental idea is that we first need to understand an increasingly complex world on the political level and subsequently draw conclusions for the deployment of our armed forces." The Commandant has taken up the cause of implementing this idea at the Führungsakademie, considering it essential to constantly reappraise the educational program and keep it at the cutting edge.

Tomorrow's leaders

"We question everything with unsparing honesty and dare to think the unthinkable," Stawitzki affirmed. He added: "Our future military leaders will face the challenges of the future. Therefore, we must provide them with professional skills and competence of action." The entire education and follow-on training concept of the Führungsakademie will be reviewed and re-organized in order to provide the students with the best possible preparation for their future assignments and to enhance flexibility in terms of thinking. "This rapidly changing world puts many demands on our soldiers even while they are still young," the Admiral explained. "There are no blueprints that will tell you how to tackle future security challenges. And this is precisely why our future leaders must be able to identify developments at an early stage and think through possible scenarios."

Great expectations

Stawitzki's motivation stems from the past: "Over the last 60 years, the Führungsakademie time and time again has addressed the challenges inherent to educational developments and thus made it to the top level. This is where our institution belongs and where it should remain." Admiral Stawitzki also shared his vision for the future of the Führungsakademie: "We will endeavor to be always up-to-date in terms of methodology and didactics as well as contents by offering an internationally recognized and future-oriented training in collaboration with other agencies and academic institutions."

The human factor

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the further development of the Führungsakademie," the Commandant told the audience. He is well aware, though, that all these plans can only be successfully implemented through "team work delivered by the great people who work here at our College". Accordingly, he expressed his gratitude to all members of the College staff, thanking them for their contributions, and made clear that he is looking with confidence to the coming months. He welcomed all those present as "friends of the Bundeswehr" and emphasized common interests because: "This year, it will be particularly important for us to realize what we have in common, to stand together and join forces to achieve our goals."

Numerous guests

The New Year reception of the Bundeswehr in Hamburg offers a regular opportunity to look back on the past year. As patron of the event, Captain Michael Setzer, Commander of the Land Command Hamburg and Garrison Senior Officer, welcomed the numerous guests and representatives from politics, authorities and society on behalf of the 18 Bundeswehr agencies located in the Hanseatic City.

Soldiers hard at work in Hamburg

Captain Setzer's opening sentence cut right to the chase: "The past year was an eventful one and full of challenges." The refugee relief provided by the Bundeswehr during the last months also made an impact on the City agencies. "Within the scope of civil-military cooperation, our approx. 5,800 soldiers supported the emergency services and provided start-up assistance to the City agencies and organizations dealing with the large numbers of migrants," Setzer summarized.

Integration as an opportunity

This kind of commitment pays dividends. Some of the buildings that were used temporarily as refugee shelters have now been handed back to their original users. "However, the efforts to achieve integration must be continued!", he reminded the audience. Setzer considers controlled immigration to be "an opportunity for our country" which should be seized. These words were met with eager support, not only by Aydan Özoğuz. The Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor and Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration was only one of many high-ranking guests attending the event.

Working for peace

Another major event kept the Bundeswehr soldiers in Hamburg busy, too: They provided technical interdepartmental assistance during the meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in December. Setzer knows: "Peace cannot be taken for granted. Peace requires a lot of work, not only from us soldiers." He underlined the significance of the OSCE as an important forum for intergovernmental talks and cautioned: "These talks must be kept alive."

Collaboration will continue to be important

Looking to the future, Setzer declared that "modernization and transformation will be the key topics for the new year". Current developments with regard to the security situation are leading to both a strategic reorientation of the armed forces and a reprioritization of national and Alliance defense. "In the future, Germany will be called upon to make a greater contribution to crisis management," he concluded. After a long period of reductions in the Bundeswehr, a trend reversal in the areas of personnel, equipment and financing is now creating the necessary foundation for tackling this task. According to Setzer, the collaboration between the different agencies and the commitment of reservists and civilian partners are additional important elements in this respect. The Commander of the Land Command concluded his speech by thanking all of them: "My special thanks go to all of you. And I want to assure you that we will continue to be at your disposal if you need us as a partner."

Setting a good example

The a capella band "Die Anker" of the Helmut Schmidt University accompanied the program, providing an appealing musical background for the event and inspiring Admiral Stawitzki to draw an apt comparison: "The performance of this band symbolizes the strong ties between the educational institutions of the Bundeswehr in the east and in the west of the City of Hamburg." And this was not the only vivid example of active collaboration between the different agencies, demonstrating just how true cooperation can work.


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