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Germany to celebrate Veterans Day for first time since 1871 unification



Germany will commemorate Veterans Day for the first time since its unification, as Berlin seeks to increase the armed forces’ prestige and public profile in the face of mounting threats from Russia.

On Thursday, MPs in the Bundestag approved a bid to make June 15 a day of honouring all Germans who have worn a military uniform, inspired in part by UK Armed Forces Day.

“It is about making it clear to our soldiers that we treat them with respect, with appreciation, with gratitude for their service and that we are very proud of them,” said Eva Högl, Germany’s federal armed forces commissioner, before the bill was passed.

“It is also about taking a look at wounds and injuries, and remembering that German soldiers also lost their lives in the line of duty,” she added.

Veterans Day, which will not be a bank holiday, is a major step for Germany in terms of its public relationship with the armed forces.

During the Cold War, the communist East held annual military parades for the National People’s Army, but that was not the case in the West owing to Germany’s Second World War shame and the Holocaust.

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