Angela Merkel’s coalition partners have become embroiled in a political row over a move to ban the German armed forces from recruiting at schools.
The centre-Left Social Democrat (SPD) leadership of the Berlin regional government wants to ban army career days and other military recruitment events from the German capital’s schools.
The move has been disowned by the SPD’s national leadership and condemned by Mrs Merkel’s government.
Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, described it as a “slap in the face for all soldiers”.
“We don’t do advertising for death and killing,” the Berlin SPD said in a resolution at its party conference at the weekend. “It is forbidden to promote military service at Berlin schools.”
The SPD is Mrs Merkel’s junior partner at a national level but it leads the regional coalition government in Berlin.
That means it could enforce the ban in the capital’s schools, provided it secures the support of its regional coalition partners, the Greens and the Left Party.
The move was rapidly condemned by senior SPD figures. “Anyone who supports this nonsense should themselves stay away from our schools,” Thomas Oppermann, the deputy speaker of the German parliament said.
“We cannot cut our last connections to society, especially given the end of conscription,” Rudolf Scharping, a former defence minister and SPD grandee said.