German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière was doing his best to focus on the matter at hand – the presentation of a new civil defense plan. But the first question at his press conference Wednesday was on the possible reintroduction of military conscription.
He was quick to clear the air after leaked excerpts of the so-called “Civil Defense Concept,” a document that was last updated in 1995 and lays out how the country should defend itself and organize society in emergencies. The leaks had suggested military service could be reinstated, just five years after it was suspended.
“A reintroduction of conscription, and everything I’ve read about this topic, is not at all under discussion,” Mr. de Maizière told reporters.
The interior minister went on to point out that conscription is only ever mentioned a couple of times in passing in the 76-page document. For example, the document says, in a time of crisis, the delivering of some letters – such as any informing people they were drafted – would take priority over others.
Whether the plans are real or not, the mere mention of reviving conscription has put the country on edge ever since excerpts of the document leaked on Tuesday, stirring a heated debate in a country still burdened by its Nazi past.