Guttenberg and a Revived German Militarism

From left: German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz review a military honor guard of the Bundeswehr in Berlin on April 11.

Guttenberg and a Revived German Militarism

After almost 80 years of a prevailing pacifist mindset, war thinking reawakens in Germany.

German war thinking is growing. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told an American audience on May 9, “Germany is making national and collective defense its priority, which is a first since the Second World War” (emphasis mine throughout). This isn’t just talk. Germany is dramatically increasing its military budget. Postwar timidity is being replaced by revived militarism.

Pistorius is right: Germany hasn’t emphasized its military this way since the end of World War ii!

Last October, Pistorius told public broadcaster zdf: “We have to get used to the idea again that the danger of war could be looming in Europe. And that means we have to become fit for war. We have to be fit for defense. And get both the Bundeswehr and society ready for this.”

He said it’s not just the German military that needs to get ready for war—the German people do too! Germany’s leaders are preparing their countrymen for very dark days ahead, when they once again have to fight for the fatherland. This is indeed “a first since the Second World War”!

There has, however, been one leader who pushed for a revival in military thinking before war broke out on the European continent in 2022. His name is Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. He was Germany’s defense minister and the most popular politician of the time. He well could be the man who leads Germany and the rest of Europe in this new age of militarism.

‘War’ in Afghanistan

In 2007, Der Spiegel wrote about Guttenberg’s first public impact. It revolved around the permanent troop deployment in embattled Afghanistan. At the time, Guttenberg served as the chairman of the Christian Social Union Foreign Policy Committee (from 2005 to 2008).

Calls were increasing in the Social Democratic parliamentary group in the Bundestag not to extend the Bundeswehr mandate. Then Guttenberg, along with Hans-Ulrich Klose, “suddenly proposed a new variant”—expanding the mission. Spiegel called the 760-word paper “a deliberate provocation” and “a breach of taboo.” Before then, a general deployment in the south was “considered a nonissue in the domestic political debate.”

Instead of going along with the popular mood, Guttenberg—then only 35 years old—deliberately set out to change the mood in Germany. He didn’t want Germany restrained by its past, starting the world wars and other wars before that. He wanted a new Germany that acted with military confidence. But he also sensed that the German people weren’t quite ready for that change.

Guttenberg wrote a memorandum, “German commitment in Afghanistan,” in which he suggested efforts to increase public acceptance of the military effort. But the public was largely unpersuaded. The following year, Guttenberg told the Passauer Neue Presse that “a brilliant communicative achievement is still needed to get the population on board.”

Then he became defense minister. In this new position, Guttenberg continued to pursue his goal of getting more war thinking into the German people.

“Our engagement in Afghanistan has for years been a combat operation,” he told Bild. “But the feeling is—and not just among our troops—that the Taliban is waging a war against the soldiers of the international community.”

This statement marked a turning point in Germany’s understanding of its military. No longer was it merely a defense force ready to confront an invasion. It was engaged in warfare abroad.

As we wrote:

Due to the nation’s 20th-century history, which resulted in the Allies proclaiming that German militarism must be permanently destroyed after World War ii, politicians and journalists took pains to avoid referring to German military operations as “war.” Guttenberg was not so shy. …

Though it was merely a change in terminology, the defense minister’s words made headlines throughout the country. To this day, his words are branded in the memories of many citizens and reporters. Beyond breaking a German taboo, his words signaled a turning point in German post-World War ii history. Previously, Germans had been timid to engage in any kind of warfare and certainly to publicly state as much. Guttenberg’s words sparked a change in that mentality. German soldiers and citizens celebrated his willingness to speak out, and his words enabled Germans to begin leaving behind their postwar timidity.

Guttenberg was like a political rock star at the time. Just about everybody in Germany thought he would be the next chancellor.

Transforming the Bundeswehr

During his short time as defense minister (2009–2011), Guttenberg was responsible for a major structural change in the Bundeswehr: the suspension of compulsory military service. Single-handedly, he drastically changed the makeup of the military.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, many people looked back on that decision as a mistake. It is important to understand why Guttenberg made it.

In recent talk shows and interviews, Guttenberg has defended his decision. He said spending cuts were necessary, and the security situation at the time was different. Choosing between maintaining conscription and equipping the troops abroad, he chose the latter. This saved Germany billions of euros over the years. But it also reveals Guttenberg’s militaristic mindset.

As our article explained, Guttenberg’s long-term view “goes beyond merely defending German borders from a worst-case-scenario Russian onslaught. His vision is for a globally deployed, well-trained German Army.”

The larger, conscripted army was intended to provide Germany with the ability to protect itself at home. But Guttenberg believed the nation’s security needed to be defended abroad. This is why he transformed the military from a defensive force into a professional offensive force.

Syria on His Mind

After Guttenberg left office in 2011, he continued to stir a more militaristic mindset in the German people by advocating for military intervention in Syria. In the New York Times in 2013, he wrote “Syria Tests Germany’s Culture of Reluctance”:

While it will take a long time for Germany to move beyond its deeply entrenched culture of reluctance, taking a stronger, more principled stance on Syria today would be an important step in the right direction.

In 2014, he wrote in Bild:

For weeks now, [Islamic State] militias have been slaughtering innocent people in Iraq and Syria. And the West has once again been in a deep sleep. Now we seem to have woken up: The [United States] is bombing jihadist positions, France is ready to supply Iraq with weapons.

And what is Germany doing?

We are creating a politically watertight protective vest doctrine.

Then again in 2017:

Given the recent course of the new U.S. president, it is hard to find good words for Donald Trump.

Nevertheless, in his order to bomb the military origin for the gruesome gassing of innocent civilians in Syria, he acted rightly. …

Trump needs support—also and especially from Germany. The lip service of the European capitals toward the American military strike may be worthy of honor, but they are also the expression of a shameful act of inaction.

Six years of civil war and hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees has still not led to any initiative that extends beyond well-meaning appeals.

In 2018, he told Bild:

When people are being slaughtered, you have to intervene.

Of course, it is easy to say we leave the dirty work to others and draw back to the safe side. But in the long term, one won’t get around it that way.

Then in 2019, he wrote:

In a situation in which nato could be torn apart and new waves of refugees are threatening, we need initiatives and not career and party tactical debates.

He was brutally honest in urging other politicians to look beyond public opinion and political self-preservation. He worked hard to get the government militarily involved in Syria. And at the same time, he was swinging the German people more and more into a militaristic mindset.

In hindsight, you could argue that German military intervention could have saved a lot of suffering. It could have stopped Russia from getting in and killing civilians and driving millions of refugees into Europe, especially Germany. Guttenberg’s idea seems more sensible today—but Chancellor Angela Merkel would not do it.

Guttenberg was one of the few leaders who, early on, warned about Russia’s military rise and Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Both of these powers are now causing real problems.

His focus on Syria, however, is particularly significant for one more reason.

As I explain in “How Iran Is Losing Syria to Germany,” Psalm 83 prophesies of an alliance of nations led by Germany. Syria is listed in this alliance. Right now, however, this country is allied with Iran. The Germans want to help Syria and draw it into their power. Guttenberg has advocated this for years and could well be the leader of this prophesied alliance.

Strongman Prophesied

Throughout history, Europeans and the German people in particular have looked for a strongman to lead them through crises. That is why Charlemagne, Otto the Great and even Adolf Hitler came to power.

In our tumultuous world, Germany is again looking for a Charlemagne—and Guttenberg could fulfill this role. Germany doesn’t have another brilliant, charismatic leader like him.

Every year Europe presents the prestigious Charlemagne Prize for someone’s efforts to unite Europe. This shows Europe’s deep yearning for another Charlemagne.

But notice what German President Roman Herzog said on May 8, 1997, when accepting this prize: “For a thousand years, the destiny of our continent has revolved around the choice between a cohesive and fragmented Europe. Charlemagne, after whom our prize is named, made his own particular choice: the first unification of Europe. At such an hour, the truth must be told. Only by wading through a sea of blood, sweat and tears did he reach his goal.”

It took rivers of blood for this dictator to achieve his goals! And still, Europe today is looking to his example to solve their problems. Europe is yearning for another Charlemagne! The Bible reveals that it will get one.

Daniel 8:23 prophesies: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.”

We see the same prophecy in Isaiah 10:5-7, Habakkuk 1:5-11, Revelation 17 and other end-time passages. Our free booklet A Strong German Leader Is Imminent will explain these prophecies to you.

Who will be this strongman of Europe, this king of fierce countenance, this modern-day Charlemagne?

Watch Baron Guttenberg. It really does seem he could fulfill this prophecy. He could be the strongman Europe wants!