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Gordon Craig

Military Pastoral Care in the Bundeswehr

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Gentlemen, 
I've been interested in this subject for some time and have written finally something about the Militärseelsorge. The information contained in the article comes from the BW Militärseelsorge web site and from the books on the BW written by Schultz and Kunswadl. Any mistakes are my own and if you can correct anything, or add useful information, I would appreciate it. The pictures of the slip on shoulder tabs shown first and from my own collection. There is an endless amount arm badges worn in the field and I will post pictures from the net illustrating them.

Regards,

Gordon

Military Pastoral Care in the Bundeswehr;

The Catholic military service began on the basis that the Reichskonkordat of July 10, 1933, was still considered valid. The Protestant Military Chaplaincy is based on a treaty between the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Federal Republic of Germany signed on February 22, 1957. Both arms of the Christian church provide for the pastoral care of servicemen and women of their respective churches. Military pastoral care is part of the ecclesiastical work carried out on behalf of and under the supervision of the church. The state provides for the organization of the military service and bears its costs. The background to pastoral care is to ensure the right of the soldiers to exercise their religion freely and undisturbed even under the special conditions of the military service.
The Protestant service is currently comprises (as of May 27, 2016) of 98 military chaplain and about the same number of parish helpers standing by on site as a contact and partially responsible for multiple sites. There are no numbers available for the Catholic service. In addition to religious services ethical support of the soldiers is provided. At foreign locations of the Bundeswehr, where the soldier’s live with their whole families, there is also a complete community life. Military pastoral care is not directed expressly to members of the church, but to all members of the military.
The Chaplains do not wear the service uniforms of the BW. They do not have military ranks and are not integrated into the hierarchy of the Bundeswehr. Rather, they are assigned to the military services through cooperation with the individual church organizations.
The members of the military of both confessions and their assistance are to be equipped with daily working uniforms according to the unit they are serving with. In the event of military operations, they are to be equipped with combat equipment. However, they do not carry arms. When assigned on boats and ships of the Bundesmarine, they receive the applicable work and combat uniforms.
They may wear an armband with the red cross and a 5 cm wide violet ribbon. They wear a distinctive mark on the slip on shoulder straps, which, in form and color, correspond to the religious denomination and the branch in which they are serving. The Catholic priests wear a cross surmounted by a crown in the same colour. A simple cross is worn by the Protestant pastors on the first type of slip on. The second type of slip on has a simple cross and in a sem-circle below the cross the Protestant Chaplain's motto “Domini Sumus” (in English: We belong to the Lord ). Chaplains serving with the army or the air force have silver, embroidered devices on their slip on shoulder straps. Chaplains serving with the marine have gold, embroidered devices on their slip on shoulder straps. 
The Catholic service also has a metal cross, suspended from a chain, which they wear in the worship service and possibly at other times. The Protestant service does not wear a cross. The clergy of both denominations may dress themselves with stoles when wearing BW uniforms, or they may wear their specific ecclesiastical garb during religious services.
A Precursor to the chaplaincy in the Bundeswehr was pastoral care at the barracks of the civilian German Labor Service units of the US Armed Forces in Germany, which began in June 1951.

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An interesting article.  Thank you for sharing it.  I had a teacher when I was in high school who was eventually ordained as a Catholic priest and became a military chaplain then, much later, my pastor.  In the Canadian Forces, as in its predecessor force, the British Army, chaplains do wear uniform and hold rank, though not of course in command positions.

All chaplians, regardless of denomination - Protestant, RC, Jewish and now Skih, and Muslim I believe, are referred to and addressed as 'Padre' [Father] which I think came from the British Army in Spain in the Napoleonic period.    Church services are officially 'not compulsory' but only a silly recruit would refuse to go to one while in basic training and a friend recently told me that when he trained, if one claimed to be an 'atheist' one got up, got into uniform and marched from one church to another with all the other men as each denomination fell out at their own church.  Then the atheists marched back to barracks and only then were released fo the day.  This fellow said when he trained in thw winter he always went to Catholic Mass because it was the shortest march! 

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Thanks for the comments on Chaplains in the Canadian Army.  I marched in many "church parades" in the RCAF.  As an aside, Chaplains in the RCN do not hold rank.

Regards,

Gordon

 

Edited by Gordon Craig

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Hi,

I want to add some other parts from my collection.

It is an older lucky charm, or may be better, a medal with the patron Christopherus (St. Christopherus). He holds patronage of things related to travel and travelers, in German: Schutzpatron für Kraftfahrer. There are two versions, one with a hole at top, and one without a hole, but with a sticky tape, to place it in the car:

Militärseelsorge katholisch St. Christophorus.jpg

Uwe

Next I want to show different pieces, a comparison by size, catholic and evangelical:

Militärseelsorge katholisch 02.jpg

Militärseelsorge evangelisch 02.jpg

Uwe

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And now some catholic christmas presents.

The oldest in my collection is from 1980 (47mm x 39mm)

Militärseelsorge katholisch Weihnachten 1980.jpg

Another one from 1989 (42mm x 44mm)

Militärseelsorge katholisch Weihnachten 1989.jpg

This one is newer, and it could be from both religions, especially for soldiers in missions

Militärseelsorge Einsatz 01.jpg

Uwe

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That takes me back, Speedytop!  When I was a lad going to various Catholic churches I certainly recall seeing St Christopher medals and plaques on cars in the parking lots. Not so common anymore, I fear.

In fact I have an uncle, my mother's oldest brother, who actually had a sticker which read 'The driver is a Catholic.  If in an accident, please call a priest.' but t is the only one I ever recall seeing.  He was a very conservative Catholic, and you can guess what that means. ;)

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My last contact with a Bundeswehr Clergyman.... just as an interlude....

I bought together a group of medals on various auctions on Ebay.... I missed one medal with its document.... the only thing between a split group and a group held together for almost 100 years was this medal and doc, value maybe EUR150.

The buyer was a priest, ex Bundeswehr Clergyman. I figured if EVER there was a man who would understand my "holy mission" to keep a soldiers group together, it would be him. Especially because he did not really care about the man or the medal as such, he simply wanted an example for his collection.

I made variouis offers, including the same medal and a doc to another man, AND about EUR500 in trade on top...

There was no logical reason in the world for him to refuse, either financial, interest in the man, interest in history....

As a collector with an interest in history, or simply because I am a nice guy, if someone wanted to complete a group, and obviously placed great value on completing it, and I had a comman a sht award and doc missing from the group, I would with no second thoughts sell it to him at my buying price (He paid over market anyway), or take a 1 to 1 exchange on the same medal and doc to another guy (would not even take all the stuff offered on top)

I am at an absolute loss as to how someone can be so closed to the thought of helping someone and allowing a group to be completed ... with no loss to him at all.

Anyway, my only contact with the field clergy sind 1993 ...

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GreyC   

Hi,

an interesting thread. Thanks for your article. The first brassard (?) in id 1, white/purple and red cross is in use in the German military since 1908, starting with Prussia and adopted for all states to be worn by all clerics of all christian denominations. The catholic clerics wore an additional purple stole during WW1.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC

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GreyC   

Pleasure, Sir. There are photos of it in wear here in this forum in the section on the iron croses.

In ID 8 you can even see a rabbi wearing the brassard.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC

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GreyC,

Thanks for the link to the post showing a similar armband in wear.  I've seen pictures of WWII German clergy in uniform and actually saw one once at The Max.  Nice to fill in this piece of clergy history in the German military.

Regards,

Gordon

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turtle   

Here´s a picture of a catholic priest being decorated during the the medal parade at PRT Kunduz in november 2008. 

08.11.2008 Medal Parade Pfarrer.JPG

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turtle,

Very interesting picture.  I have often wondered if Chaplains in the BW wore a crucifix other then the BW issued one but most pictures do not give me a clear view of what the priest/minister is wearing.  Since the BW does no have an issue crucifix for Protestant ministers the minister in this photo has chosen to wear one of his choice.  Thanks very much for posting this photo.

Regards,

Gordon

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On 1/7/2017 at 10:10, Chris Boonzaier said:

My last contact with a Bundeswehr Clergyman.... just as an interlude....

As a collector with an interest in history, or simply because I am a nice guy, if someone wanted to complete a group, and obviously placed great value on completing it, and I had a comman a sht award and doc missing from the group, I would with no second thoughts sell it to him at my buying price (He paid over market anyway), or take a 1 to 1 exchange on the same medal and doc to another guy (would not even take all the stuff offered on top)

I am at an absolute loss as to how someone can be so closed to the thought of helping someone and allowing a group to be completed ... with no loss to him at all.

Anyway, my only contact with the field clergy sind 1993 ...

Chris,

As a man with a number of clergymen in my family - 3 of my mother's brothers - and a sister an ex-nun, I far too often have to explain to people, including other Catholics that priests put their pants on the same way you and I do - one leg at a time!  That means that the percentage of saints, ordinary chaps and complete a**holes is the same as in the general population.  Sadly, I have met rather too many of the last category in the last decade and am currently taking my spiritual 'business' to another establishment! ;) 

I'm sorry, but sadly unsurprised to hear that yoiu had this experience.   Better lcuk next time.

Peter

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GreyC   

Hi Gordon et al.,

if you are still interested in the topic at large, there is a Bundeswehr journal called if (for Innere Führung). In its Nr. 4/2016 issue there is a multipage article on how to meet the needs and demands of a multi-religious army, now that growing numbers of German muslims have joined as professional soldiers. Their numbers are estimated at about 1400-1600.

One way was to institutionalize the ZASaG, Zentrale Ansprechstelle für Soldatinnen und Soldaten anderer Glaubensrichtungen (Central Topic Center for Soldiers of Other Religious Faith/Denominations). It is the first center within the Bundeswehr for soldiers of jewish or muslim faith. Up to that point they had to rely on clergy from outside the Bundeswehr.

The article also gives a concise overview of the structure of pastoral military care in the Bundeswehr today.

Unfortunately the internet presence of the journal was discontinued in 2013, so only the print version is still available. I got mine for free. If there is serious interest I´d be prepared to scan and mail the 8 page article.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC

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14 hours ago, GreyC said:

Hi Gordon et al.,

if you are still interested in the topic at large, there is a Bundeswehr journal called if (for Innere Führung). In its Nr. 4/2016 issue there is a multipage article on how to meet the needs and demands of a multi-religious army, now that growing numbers of German muslims have joined as professional soldiers. Their numbers are estimated at about 1400-1600.

One way was to institutionalize the ZASaG, Zentrale Ansprechstelle für Soldatinnen und Soldaten anderer Glaubensrichtungen (Central Topic Center for Soldiers of Other Religious Faith/Denominations). It is the first center within the Bundeswehr for soldiers of jewish or muslim faith. Up to that point they had to rely on clergy from outside the Bundeswehr.

The article also gives a concise overview of the structure of pastoral military care in the Bundeswehr today.

Unfortunately the internet presence of the journal was discontinued in 2013, so only the print version is still available. I got mine for free. If there is serious interest I´d be prepared to scan and mail the 8 page article.

GreyC

Thanks for letting me know about the article and the offer to copy and send it to me.  I appreciate that very much.  I'll PM you with my mailing address.  I was aware of the ZASaG but didn't put anything in this thread about it.  I'd be very interested in the structure of pastoral care in the BW to day.

Regards,

Gordon

 

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