Air Force Beach Games

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Michael Schulze von Glaßer -

German Armed Forces advertising campaign infringes upon the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child "terre des hommes".

Do you love adventure? Are you looking for a challenge? Are you in good physical condition?” These questions are being posed to the young readers of BRAVO on the youth magazine’s website. This is the advertisement for the 2012 German Armed Forces camps. “Action, adrenalin, adventure! The challenge of your life is waiting for you,” according to a German Armed Forces promotional film on a YouTube channel for BRAVO. The army promises at both camps, at the Air Force base in Sardinia and with the Mountain Infantry in the Berchtesgadener Alps, “extreme water competition, crazy beach games, cool beach parties, and campfire parties near a cool German Armed Forces hut” – and, it is completely free of charge for 60 participants. In the advertisement for the summer camps to be held in October, there is no trace of the harsh reality of the operations. Therefore, there is an increased organized resistance against the cooperation of the German Armed Forces and Bravo.

It started with an online petition by the Children’s Fund “terre des hommes”. In this still active petition, one can request Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) and Alexander Gernandt with Bauer Media Group, to refrain from showing the advertisement on BRAVO. According to the Children’s Fund, whose highest priority is the safety of children, the misleading advertising violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Meanwhile, several thousand people have signed the petition. More than 1,300 people support a protest group on social network Facebook against the cooperation of the German Armed Forces and BRAVO. The group provides protest e-mail templates to the Defense Minister and serves as a platform for discussion.

Meanwhile, political parties have become aware of the issue. The LEFT calls for “an end to all promotional activities by the German Armed Forces aimed at minors”. Green Party politician Agnieszka Brugger, holds this type of advertising as “unacceptable”. The SPD Parliamentary Group defense policy spokesman, Rainer Arnold, speaks of “wrong excess” in the German Armed Forces recruitment.

The Ministry of Defense still clings to the cooperation between the German Armed Forces and BRAVO and rejects the accusation of a violation against the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. The “Bauer Media Group” has also responded to the protests. The comment bar under the German Armed Forces commercials filled with negative comments was deleted and some films were entirely taken of the net. Yet, officially the publisher sees no fundamental problems with the advertisement. “The German Armed Forces is part of a civil society offering a wide range of training opportunities” it says in a statement. For the publisher there is a lot of money involved. While the cost to the German Armed Forces for the camps is EUR 40,000, the Army is said to have spent EUR 200,000 for the cooperation with BRAVO. Nonetheless, the Bauer Media Group announced that it wants to have talks with “terre des hommes” and will keep the protests for the 2013 Adventure Camps in mind for the upcoming negotiations with the German Armed Forces. Then we will see what has a higher value for Bauer publishing: money or morals.



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