Hans Liesenhoff, Federal Chair of the German Armed Forces’ Federation of Civil Servants and Employees (VBB) on the core activities during Conavirus pandemic

Dear colleagues,

In accordance with our constitution, the federal administration is responsible for staffing the armed forces and making sure they have enough equipment.

The German Armed Forces’ Federation of Civil Servants and Employees (VBB) is the strongest lobbying group for civilian staff in the Ministry of Defence and the German Armed Forces as a whole. It is also the one most steeped in tradition. We are happy to support CESI and the European notion of peace and freedom.

Head of the European Commission and former German Defence Minister Dr Ursula von der Leyen hit the nail on the head in a newspaper interview: “I think all those of us who aren’t experts underestimated the coronavirus in the beginning.” In Germany, the situation has continued to worsen, which one could observe from the extraordinary address made by our Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel. In her order of the day on 20 March, our Defence Minister established clear priorities as we move forward.

First, we need to ensure that we can fulfil our core mission at any time. Second, at this time of crisis, we will help wherever we can with whatever is needed. Third, we should use the invaluable capacities of our reservists in a sensible fashion.

For the civilian staff, this means working from home as far as possible in order to protect oneself as well as one can. People have been going above and beyond the call of duty in many areas in the most diverse areas of the organisation in order for the German Armed Forces to be able to fulfil their core mission. Here are two examples from a long list: reservists are having to be recruited and deployed as quickly as possible. In addition, our colleagues have, over the course of the last few weeks, signed procurement contracts to the tune of over 200 million euros in order to supply the federal government with medical equipment and protective gear.

At this difficult time for Germany and the whole of Europe, our task as trade unions is to give people courage as we confront this crisis, but also and in particular to say thank you. I’d like to express my thanks to all those working in the Ministry of Defence and in the German Armed Forces administration, who, over the last few days, have served us tirelessly, sometimes day and night, as well as regularly at the weekend. And I have the greatest respect and the highest regard for our European colleagues who are making great personal sacrifices for the citizens of Europe.

Just to be clear: we are all making an important contribution towards helping the state function.

This also entails us doing our bit in our private lives, by keeping our distance, staying at home as much as we can and minimising the number of people with whom we come into contact. Once again, this presents us with new challenges in our work as a federation, since the situation is extremely changeable here too. In many telephone calls, what once more became apparent was that the federation is sticking together and that it can cope with these challenges. At a time of crisis, we can follow words with deeds. We can help those who need help.

Dear colleagues,

I am particularly concerned about how you are all bearing up. Stay well, keep your chins up, show solidarity to your colleagues. CESI will also continue to stand up for your rights. However, we must not neglect the need to protect against infection. I’m counting on you!

Dr Hans Liesenhoff

Federal Chair of the German Armed Forces’ Federation of Civil Servants and Employees (VBB)

CESI Trade Council ‘Defence’ (DEF)