The memorial ceremony, in which 400 new recruits beginning their now voluntary German military service vow their allegiance, has for the past four years taken place on the square in front of the Reichstag parliament building.
But this year’s ceremony on Friday was moved to outside the Bendlerblock building – historically the headquarters of the Wehrmacht and the site of the Memorial to the German Resistance.
The move was not welcomed by the German Armed Forces Association, who said the symbolism of the Reichstag as a location was more suitable for the occasion.
“The square in front of the Reichstag was a good choice for the vows because of its proximity to the representation of the German people and democracy,” vice president of the association Wolfgang Schmelzer told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Saturday. “We would have welcomed the decision to keep it.”
The ceremony, which has taken place every year since 1999, is intended to remind today’s young recruits of the bravery of the soldiers who, under the leadership of ringleader Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, attempted to kill Hitler 68 years ago on July 20th 1944.
In his speech to the new recruits, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière said the military plot against Hitler was also an example for today’s German army.
Over a year after compulsory military service was abolished, 400 volunteers publicly vowed their allegiance to the German army, pledging to “serve Germany truly and to valiantly defend the rights and the freedom of the German people.”
The recruits represented the around 1,400 new male and female volunteers who began their military service on July 1.