Bundesverteidigungsministerin besucht das Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 74 in Neuburg Aktuell, 22.07.2022, Neuburg an der Donau, Bundesverteidigungsministerin Christine Lambrecht im Portrait beim Pressestatement nach ihrem Besuch beim Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 74 im Rahmen ihrer Sommerreise 2022 Neuburg an der Donau Bayern Deutschland *** Federal Minister of Defense visits Tactical Air Force Squadron 74 in Neuburg Current, 22 07 2022, Neuburg an der Donau, Federal Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht in portrait during press statement after her visit to Tactical Air Force Squadron 74 during her summer trip 2022 Neuburg an der Donau Bavaria Germany

It was a photo of her son on the Internet that got Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) into trouble in the spring. It showed the young man posing in front of the ministry in Berlin when he took off in a Bundeswehr helicopter in mid-April. Showing off with political implications, typical of his age, since his mother was on board with him – on the way to an official visit to the troops. From then on, the case was considered another misstep by the former justice minister, who clearly found it difficult to settle into the new office.

Lambrecht justified taking her out of her own pocket with her personal need for time together. However, she never explained how the picture and its momentous publication came about. She left the question unanswered, as did numerous questions about the organization and course of the controversial trip. At an appointment at the federal press conference in May, a ministry spokesman dealt with the topic deliberately superficially, not without traces of condescension. When journalists inquired about the mother’s role in photography, it was said that one could not see the relevance of the question.

It is now clear that at least the circumstances of the creation and publication of this photo should remain unclear: Lambrecht expressly declares the topic a private matter for the first time and refuses to provide information as to whether and how she was involved. “These questions do not relate to official processes and are to be found in the privacy of the people involved,” said a ministry spokeswoman. In contrast to official matters, public officials are not obliged to provide information to the press in private matters.

Lambrecht left for Schleswig-Holstein shortly before Easter, accompanied by his adult son. The son posted his passenger photo on a social network, triggering discussions as to whether the flight was allowed. Because both then traveled to the nearby island of Sylt, criticism was raised as to whether the visit to the “911 Electronic Warfare Battalion” was only planned to shorten the way to the Easter vacation.

Lambrecht denied this and justified taking her with her claim to family life. She left it at that. Much remained open – including whether the initiative for the visit to the troops came from the politician personally.

After a request for information from the Tagesspiegel before the Cologne administrative court (Az.: VG 6 L 978/22), the Ministry of Defense has now announced details of the planning of the trip for the first time. Accordingly, the date – contrary to the usual practice when visiting troops – had a short lead time: The battalion, which is stationed in the municipality of Stadum and is 20 minutes by car from the “DB-Syltshuttle” in Niebüll, was only informed at the beginning of April that for the first time a minister will come as a high-ranking visitor. Lambrecht obtained a cost estimate for taking his son with him at the same time as requesting readiness to fly on April 6, and on April 8 the son was put on the passenger list. On April 13, the Cougar AS-532 helicopter took off from Berlin.

According to their own information, Lambrecht and her personal advisor booked both the business trip and the hotel on Sylt for the private stay. However, the minister denies that the idea of ​​visiting Stadum came from her. It is now said that the concrete proposal was made by “the adjutant” of the minister, i.e. the officer supporting her as commander. The ministry emphasized that there were “considerations” for such a visit as early as October 2021, i.e. before Lambrecht took office. When the minister booked the hotel on Sylt and whether this happened at the same time as the organization of the business trip, she still does not want to say – that is also a private matter, as they say.

With its information, the Ministry has provided most of the information requested by the court. The administrative court still has to decide whether the minister can claim the protection of her privacy for the circumstances under which the photo was taken. In the legal dispute, the Tagesspiegel argues that the flight was an official one, took place in a military aircraft and that the son was accompanied by official regulations and billed. It is therefore not a purely private matter. In addition, the minister herself spoke publicly about her private life to justify the flight.

Should Lambrecht have taken the photo – possibly knowing that her son wants to display it publicly – there could be new discussions about her suitability for the post.