German government votes to introduce annual Veterans’ Day

German government votes to introduce annual Veterans’ Day

Members of the German Army will be recognised annually on June 15, for the first time since the Bundeswehr was founded in 1955.

German MPs vote to recognise Bundeswehr with national day

Members of the German Bundestag have voted to introduce a national day which recognises the work of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). 

Veterans’ Day will be held annually on June 15, the same date the first German veterans’ badge was awarded in 2019.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces of the German Bundestag Eva Högl (SPD) said that the day would be introduced to treat Germany’s around 10 million serving soldiers and veterans with “respect, appreciation and gratitude”.

Since it was founded in 1955, the Bundeswehr soldiers have operated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Estonia and Romania, among other countries.

While the German Democratic Republic recognised its National People's Army, an equivalent Veterans’ Day was never introduced in West Germany. Given the atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht, introducing a Veterans’ Day in a unified Germany has long been taboo.

As Germany ramps up defence spending following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Bundestag hopes that the national day will foster further, widespread public support for the Bundeswehr.

Ahead of the vote on April 25, parties from across the political spectrum vocalised support for introducing German Veterans’ Day, with MP Sara Nanni stating that soldiers had earned the right to be recognised and CDU / CSU MP Kerstin Vieregge saying that until now, Germany has had a “friendly disinterest” in veterans. 

The Left were the only party to criticise the plan, with MP Dietmar Bartsch arguing that it marked a worrying “atmospheric change” for the way war is seen in Germany and that the needs of soldiers and their families should be better addressed in Germany, by improving access to therapy for post-traumatic stress.

Will Veterans’ Day be a public holiday in Germany?

From 2024, onwards Veterans’ Day will be acknowledged across all federal states in Germany, but will not be a public holiday.

However, a related public holiday will be celebrated in 2025. On May 8, 2025, locals in Berlin will have a public holiday to celebrate 80 years since the end of the Second World War and Liberation from National Socialism.

Thumb image credit: Heide Pinkall /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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