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Capsule Review

Reforging The Iron Cross: The Search For Tradition In The West German Armed Forces

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Reforging The Iron Cross: The Search For Tradition In The West German Armed Forces

Reforging The Iron Cross: The Search For Tradition In The West German Armed Forces
By Don Abenheim
Princeton University Press, 1989 316 pp. $29.95 Purchase

A detailed, sensitive study of how the army of the Federal Republic tried to evolve a new ethos, sorting out the honorable legacy of the past and disavowing the politically injurious and morally indefensible traditions. The book, based on a mastery of the literature and supplemented by interviews, marked by exceptional judiciousness and empathy, is also a commentary on the evolution of the Federal Republic and on the spirit of the army. From the beginning of the secret planning for rearmament, initiated by Adenauer and hastened by the Allies, a group of military reformers envisioned a new type of army: an army of citizens in uniform, firmly integrated into a democratic society. An account of the changing ways-alternating democratic reform and accommodation of older, traditional thought-in which the Federal Republic from Adenauer to Kohl has dealt with this critical aspect of rearmament. Helpful in understanding the special and esteemed place of the Bundeswehr in the alliance today.

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