Two Armies and One Fatherland: The End of the Nationale Volksarmee

By Jörg Schönbohm; Peter Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

From the days that Lieutenant-General Schönbohm and I were lieutenants, we trained to fight the Soviet military and its ally, the East German Nationale Volksarmee (NVA). We never viewed the East German forces lightly. The East Germans had somehow succeeded in making Communism work -- even more productively than the Soviets who had forced them to adopt this system. This also led us to conclude that the East German military had probably improved on Soviet military doctrine and war-fighting capabilities. In short, in the event that the Soviets ever chose to attack, those of us in NATO felt that the East German forces would probably prove the toughest and most skilled of any forces we would meet in battle.

Then, in November 1989, the world witnessed a miracle. We all watched in awe as frosty-breathed West and East Germans tore down the Berlin Wall and rushed toward one another in open embrace. When the night fell, there were no East and West Germans -- only Germans.

And so begins the story of Two Armies and One Fatherland. General Sch"nbohm was there from the beginning. He was the person to whom his nation turned to merge the two forces of East and West -- to erase decades of attitudes, habits, and outlooks -- to form a single military force. Although much has been written in Germany on this marriage, much of it has been contradictory, diffuse, and tentative. And very little has been translated for the outside world. General Schönbohm's account is the first definitive explanation of this enormous human endeavour.

This is a fascinating story, eloquently written, and told only as a participant and first-hand observer can. However, General Schönbohm. was more than that. He was the architect; the blacksmith at the forge.

General Schönbohm had the daunting task of transforming a military force that was 103,000 members strong. His task was to integrate troops and units that had faithfully served the NVA, into a force that had stood firmly against every ideal and value the NVA

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