Wars and crises and how young people deal with them

Citizens’ consultation in the office of MP Andrea Lindholz (CSU) in Aschaffenburg (Bavaria): “How safe are we in Germany?” asks 16-year-old Linus from Kronberg-Gymnasium. There is a microphone on the table in front of him, with the MP sitting behind it. Max is sitting next to Linus. He is monitoring the audio recording on the PC. Both are collecting sound bites for their radio podcast, which they are producing as part of a practical seminar. There was a lot of interest in the seminar. The topic: security policy.

Re-introduction of compulsory military service is the subject of much debate

“We are part of the European Union. NATO is a strong community. We are already safe there. But there is no such thing as absolute security,” says Andrea Lindholz. Linus follows up and asks whether compulsory military service should be reintroduced. Lindholz, deputy member of the Bundestag Committee on Home Affairs and Homeland Security, nods. Many things are seen differently today than they were ten years ago. When asked among the students, most of them would be in favor of reintroducing compulsory military service. But you should still have the freedom to decide. After all, you lose a year of your own life.

How safe is Germany?

When the students of the seminar are reunited, there is a controversial discussion. “If you look at events like the war in Ukraine or the war in Gaza – it just becomes more present. That scares me, our defense capability in Germany is not that high,” says Cleo. Arthur agrees with her: “I can’t choose if someone somewhere – in Russia or somewhere else – goes off the deep end. The problem I see is that security is declining.” The students talk about their research, the interview with a Bundeswehr officer and also how long they often have to chase after interview partners. “I’m interested in everything because I think that everything is somehow connected. And I find it very interesting to understand these connections,” says Laura. Her classmate Lavinia wonders: “The background to the Middle East conflict – how could it break out again or how did it come about? What might be the interests of the politicians? Of the leading powers?”

Wars, climate, crises

The eleventh graders at Kronberg-Gymnasium in Aschaffenburg are crisis-tested. Like most of their age group. They have two years of corona behind them. They are the generation that takes to the streets for the climate. They have experienced the outbreak of two wars. Nevertheless, their teacher Stephanie Uhr was surprised by the enormous interest in the P-seminar on security policy. The students will now create several 40-minute podcasts on the topics of the Bundeswehr, disaster prevention, cybercrime, economic and security alliances.

We are living in difficult times. Teacher Stephanie Uhr believes that schools, in particular, have a role to play: “We need to offer a platform to discuss things, to help break down certain theories, to classify them. Or to endure the fact that there are no answers.”

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