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Bundeswehr posts 'retro' Nazi uniform on Instagram

November 27, 2019

Germany's military has apologzied after it posted a Wehrmacht outfit as part of a "uniforms and fashion" social media campaign. The Bundeswehr has become active on social media in attempts to drive recruitment.

Uniform of a German soldier
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Skolimowska

The German army apologized on Wednesday on its offical social media channels after it posted a picture of a Nazi uniform on its Instragram story with the word "retro" on top of it.

In recent years, the Bundeswehr has been trying to combat dwindling recruitment with far-reaching marketing campaigns hoping to convince German youth with promises of adventure and good career opportunities. To that end, they posted pictures of old uniforms in an Instagram story with the caption "fashion is also one aspect. Even today, elements of military style are part of haute couture."

However, the photo depicted the uniform of a major in Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht, complete with iron cross and Parteiadler, the pin of an eagle atop a Swastika that was the official insignia of the Nazi party.

After outraged Instagram users and German media picked up on the offensive post, the Bundeswehr deleted the image and posted an apology.

"Dear community, we apologize! We posted a photo of a Wehrmacht uniform used for a movie. The uniform is in an exhibit in our Military History Museum in Dresden ... the intention was to show a photo story of a centuries-long influence of uniforms on fashion."

"Extremism of any kind is a no-go in the Bundeswehr. We are now investigating what went wrong and how we can prevent it in the future."

The military has been declining in new recruits since obligatory national service was abolished in Germany in 2011. Compounding this is the political unpopularity regarding defense spending and a lack of prestige for low-level military careers, both of which are partly due to Germany's desire to repudiate its Nazi past.

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Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.