The suspension of compulsory military service in 2011 was accompanied by the end of civil service. Federal President Steinmeier has an idea how young people can help society – and benefit themselves.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposes the introduction of compulsory social service for young people in Germany.

“It’s about the question of whether it wouldn’t be good for our country if women and men put themselves in the service of society for a certain period of time,” Steinmeier told the “Bild am Sonntag”. That doesn’t have to be in the Bundeswehr, “in my opinion, the social obligation time could also be done in the care of seniors, in facilities for the disabled or in shelters for the homeless”. Introducing this will certainly not be easy, but he considers a debate about compulsory social time to be appropriate in any case.

Compulsory period could also be shorter than one year

Steinmeier left open how long such a service should last from his point of view: “I deliberately said mandatory time, because it doesn’t have to be a year. You can also choose a different time period.” It is important to broaden your horizons and get to know different perspectives. “Especially now, at a time when understanding of other life plans and opinions is decreasing, a social commitment can be particularly valuable. You get out of your own bubble, meet completely different people, help citizens in need. That breaks down prejudices and strengthens the sense of community.”

Conscription was suspended in 2011 after 55 years, effectively ending military and community service. The Russian attack on Ukraine sparked a new debate about introducing universal conscription. Politicians from the Union and the SPD called for a discussion about such a step, which combines military service and social services.