conscientious objectors need our support

War Resisters' International, London, 07 October 2008


GERMANY: Two total objectors in military arrest

Two total objectors to military and substitute service are presently in military arrest in Germany.

Patrick Sander from Berlin was supposed to present himself for military service on 1 October 2008. However, he did not do so. On 6 October at 11pm he was taken by military police to the military police commando in Berlin, and transferred to his unit in Prenzlau on 7 October.

Patrick Sander declared: "I am neither prepared to take up arms, not to kill a human being. (...) I won't do a substitute service because I am not prepared to kill, to give up my reason and to act against my conscience. Also, I refuse to submit to the arbitrariness with which the state recruits conscripts and people in substitute service.

It is expected that Patrick Sander was sentenced by his commanding officer to disciplinary arrest today.

Jan-Patrick Ehlert from Flensburg presented himself on 1 October at his military unit in Strausberg, but refused to comply with any order. Because of the long weekend in Germany (3 October is a national holiday), it was too late for the military to start its disciplinary machinery, and so Jan-Patrick Ehlert was given a permit to go home over the weekend. He presented himself again yesterday, and in his case too it is highly likely that he received disciplinary arrest.

It is the usual practice of the German military to impose consecutive disciplinary arrest on total objectors, up to a total of 63 days - and in some cases even 84 days - before the case is passed on to the criminal justice system for criminal prosecution, which can in theory lead to imprisonment of up to five years. In practice, imprisonment has been rare in recent years, with most sentences either being suspended sentences or fines.

The repeated disciplinary arrest for total objectors however is reason for concern. The official purpose of disciplinary arrest is to change the behaviour of the person concerned - it is not a means of punishment. Therefore, it is not according to the rules to impose disciplinary arrest when a change of behaviour cannot be expected. No case of a total objector is known where disciplinary arrest achieved a 'change of heart' - arrest therefore amounts to punishment and is illegal.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Patrick Sander and Jan-Patrick Ehlert:

  Patrick Sander
  4./Fernmeldebataillon 610
  Schwedter Strasse 63
  17291 Prenzlau

  Jan-Patrick Ehlert
  18. Luftwaffenausbildungsregiment
  Umgehungsstrasse 1
  15344 Strausberg

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the German Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Jung, or German embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Patrick Sander, Jan-Patrick Ehlert, and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

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