For centuries prior to 1945, the German officer corps constituted a social and political elite in Central Europe. And as this book shows, the debacle of the Second World War, the scorn of the German populace, and the control of the Allies did not entirely diminish the officers' critical role. By tracing the changing role of the officer corps from its position in the National Socialist dictatorship to its current status in a Western-style democracy, Soldiers as Citizens illuminates both the development of a democratic ideology in the Federal Republic and the influence of warfare in German society.
Jay Lockenour details how former officers in West Germany founded quasi-legal organizations with memberships numbering in the hundreds of thousands; how they lobbied the German and Allied governments for their pensions, waged public relations campaigns to restore their lost "honor," and sought input into the rearmament plan after 1950; and how, as officers, they claimed to speak with the "voice of the soldier" whose wartime experiences and sacrifices earned him a special place in the new republic.
In Lockenour's analysis, the officer corps provides an enlightening example of a social group, ravaged by war and defeat, trying to orient itself in a hostile world. In their alternative model for democracy based on "soldierly" values, they also give us a clearer, more complex understanding of postwar history.