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

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

Chapter 7
DAILY ROUTINE

Monday, 8 October 1990

I attend a discussion in Berlin with the Federal President, Dr Richard von Weizsäcker, who encourages us and increases our confidence ... A visit to the operational centre of the air force for eastern Germany in F□rstenwalde. This is in a bunker, the so-called 'fox's earth' which had been classified as 'secret'. It was here that the airspace situation reports of the former NVA were produced and -- when necessary -- transmitted to the neighbouring eastern states. Now not only is the airspace monitored from here, but also the air-rescue service organised; it is available both to the civilian and the military sectors. Former NVA officers, whom one can recognise only by the white seams of their new boots and the absence of name-tags on their uniforms, are working side by side with their comrades from the Bundeswehr -- experts together. Here, in a short time, the kind of co-operation has grown up that we would wish for in all spheres.

Afterwards, a visit to a large ammunition depot which is hidden in a forest and in which about 45,000 tons of ammunition are stored. The fence, twelve kilometres long, was until recently secured by a high-voltage security system and guarded by only a few soldiers. The switching off of the system means that ninety servicemen must be transported from a garrison 250 kilometres away and are quartered in temporary, scarcely acceptable sanitary conditions in order to do guard duty in shifts for a week. At least arrangements are later made, with some effort, to accommodate the conscripts in a Bundeswehr building fifty kilometres away, where they can be regularly supplied with warm meals. However, this means they have to be driven daily fifty kilometres to and fro. The conscripts do not see why they have to do so much guard duty after the political changeover merely

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