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Foreign Deployment (November 2, 2006)

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Suddenly the newspapers on display at his father’s gas station show soldiers in desert camouflage, soldiers with skulls, soldiers acting like rowdy hooligans. In Afghanistan, Bundeswehr majors rush into mosques and politely ask the imams not to conduct Friday prayers with too much anger. The Ministry of Defense wants to transfer tanks to Mazar-e-Sharif in case evacuations become necessary. Martina Schulz wrote an email to the Bild newspaper asking them not to further endanger her son by publishing new photographs; the response comes the next day at the newspaper stands: The media is shouting “shock!” and “scandal!” The minister mentioned “withdrawal” for the first time, albeit from Bosnia.

Schulz paints another model submarine.

He doesn’t want to be afraid now. In a few days he’ll be at the airport, on his way out of the sheltered security of childhood and into the brutality of the world. He has part one of The Lord of the Rings in his backpack. He hears his mother’s pleading voice in his head: “Make yourself invisible.” Good wishes from friends and family are written on his helmet: “I miss you already,” “Come back soon,” “Big sister is watching you, Anica.” So he’ll wait there, Björn Uwe Schulz, twenty years old, a soldier from Germany. Despite his fear of shots, he has been immunized against polio, diphtheria, hepatitis, meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, German measles, influenza, tetanus, typhoid fever, and rabies.

On Friday, November 10, shortly before 0900 hours, his plane will take off and gradually disappear into the autumn sky above Cologne. There will be no announcement in the news. But his mother will still have the radio on.

Source: Henning Sußebach, “Schulz zieht in den Krieg” [“Schulz Goes to War”], Die Zeit, no. 45, November 2, 2006.

Translation: Allison Brown

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