Academic journal article Military Review

Fallen Elites: The Military Other in Post-Unification Germany

Academic journal article Military Review

Fallen Elites: The Military Other in Post-Unification Germany

Article excerpt

FALLEN ELITES: The Military Other in Post-Unification Germany, Andrew Bickford, Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, CA, 2011, 268 pages, $22.95

EVER WONDER WHAT happened to the East German Army? Veterans of the Cold War, especially those stationed in West Germany during this era, may conjure up images of a sinister, monolithic force that was the first line of defense for the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe. What happened to this vaunted adversary after the end of the Cold War and the German reunification? Did it simply go quietly into the night? How exactly did it become part of the present-day German Army?

Assistant professor of anthropology at George Mason University Andrew Bickford examines this and related questions in a fascinating study of the military reunification process in post-Cold War Germany. Bickford's tells us the East German Army, or NVA (Nationale Volksarmee) became the "military other" in the new Germany. Bickford convincingly argues that the reunified bundeswehr quickly and systematically emasculated the NVA, because it sought to distance itself from an entity it considered illegal, irrelevant, and hopelessly linked to the former communist regime.

Virtually overnight, the NVA disbanded and the majority of its members became jobless. Officers above the rank of lieutenant colonel were automatically retired, while only a small portion of other NVA members joined the new army. …

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