IT IS one of the great ‘what-ifs’ of history: what if the Wehrmachthad triumphed over the Red Army after Hitler’s invasion of Russia?
We are familiar with the standard hypotheticals: What if the weather had been milder? What if the Germans had not split Army Group South? What if the Third Reich’s ‘wonder weapons’ had been deployed earlier?
There is, however, one question that is rarely asked. One that is far more crucial: what if the Germans had simply been more fabulous?
Many strategic mistakes were made during the invasion of Stalin’s territory, but none as great as the lack of pixie-dust, rainbow kisses and unicorns, all of which could have bolstered the martial capabilities of Hitler’s war machine. As with any organisation run by the stale-male-pale crew, German high command failed to realise the importance of such things, of course. The dashing uniforms weren’t quite enough.
Fast-forward 79 years and things are far different in the Bundesrepublik’s armed forces. Whilst the uniforms aren’t quite what they were, they have certainly made up for other previous deficiencies.
This was made apparent last week in a farewell ceremony hosted for the departing commander of Informationstechnikbataillon 381 in Storkow, Brandenburg. It was a touching and empowering occasion. After addressing her troops, Frau Biefang, the battalion’s commander, was whisked away in a camouflaged Mercedes light truck.
The camouflage, however, was rendered somewhat redundant by the two-metre-high unicorn cut-outs affixed to both sides of the truck. Galloping proudly, this giant white mythical creature – its mane painted in rainbow-esque colours – sped Frau Biefang off to the Bundeswehr’s cyber-warfare headquarters.
Admittedly, not every personnel carrier in the Germany army is fitted with unicorns. At least not yet. The creature is supposedly of personal significance for Frau Biefang, who, having joined the Bundeswehr as Herr Biefang, used a unicorn as her mascot whilst on deployment in Afghanistan. The unicorn serves as a symbol for the LGBTetc movement, apparently.
Nevertheless, according to recent reports there may be more unicorns than battle-ready tanks in the German army nowadays. The author of a 2018 parliamentary report into the battle readiness of Germany’s armed forces described the situation as ‘dramatically bad’. None of the nation’s six submarines were combat-ready. At any one time, more than half of the country’s tanks, ships and aircraft were unavailable due to a lack of spare parts. Often, none of the Luftwaffe’s 14 Airbus A-400Ms could fly.
Nor have things improved since. A subsequent report in November 2019 showed that only 15 per cent of German’s new attack and transport helicopters were combat-ready. A more recent report published in early 2020 explains how staff shortages, material shortages and bureaucratic over-organisation remain a feature of everyday life.
Disappointingly, these parliamentary reports do not touch on the combat-readiness of Germany’s combat unicorn battalions. One can only assume, however, that these pose a greater threat to the nation’s enemies than its submarine fleet stuck in dock and its withered flock of grounded fighter jets.
Given that Germany has for decades spent nowhere near its Nato commitment on defence – as a proportion of GDP its defence spending has fallen from 2.6 per cent in 1990 to 1.3 per cent in 2019 – perhaps Mutti Merkel could increase spending to ensure that the Bundeswehr, one day, is able to ride into battle in tanks instead of atop unicorns.
This is perhaps wishful thinking. The German army can barely find enough recruits from within Germany to fill its ranks and is now looking abroad for soldiers to serve in its armed forces: a sure sign of national decline.
When the time comes and Germany’s military is called upon, they may not have any bullets, tanks or attack helicopters, but they will have plenty of virtue signalling and pretty unicorns to draft into battle instead. When that time comes, I’m sure the German people will be grateful for priorities its government has pursued in recent years.