Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposes the introduction of compulsory social service for young people in Germany. “I know it won’t be easy, but I would like us to have a debate about mandatory social time,” Steinmeier told the “Bild am Sonntag”. It is about the question “whether it would not do our country good if women and men put themselves in the service of society for a certain period of time”.

That doesn’t have to be in the Bundeswehr, “in my opinion, the compulsory social time could also be spent caring for the elderly, in facilities for the disabled or in shelters for the homeless,” Steinmeier explained.

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 for other life plans and opinions is decreasing, a social duty time 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.

However, Steinmeier does not believe that the reintroduction of conscription makes sense: “I was in favor of conscription as long as it existed. It has been suspended, we now have a Bundeswehr with completely different structures. I advise against reopening the old conscription debate.”