The article traces back the historical, political and strategic contexts that led to the creation of the German Bundeswehr and their integration into NATO in the mid-1950s. An analysis of official documents and statements by the Federal Ministry of Defence serves to illustrate the changes and continuities in the functions and strategic imperatives that have been ascribed to the Bundeswehr over the last decades. These objectives, however, stood often in contrast to the beliefs and threat perceptions of other parts of society, such as the peace movement, in particular at the beginning of the 1980s and after the end of the East-West conflict. Yet, as current political events demonstrate, these often ideologically heated debates have largely been superseded by more pragmatic, and still ongoing, discussions on the future role of German armed forces in times of a deeply changing international security landscape and the most far reaching reforms and restructuring efforts of the military in the history of the German Bundeswehr.
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