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Born in Munich, Bastian volunteered the Wehrmacht at the age of nineteen. In World War II he served on the Eastern Front being wounded by a bullet in the right arm and in the head by a grenade fragment. He was also hit by American machine gun fire in France. After the war he started a business which failed and he rejoined the military. From 1956 to 1980 Bastian served in the Bundeswehr, retiring as a divisional commander with the rank of Major General. During this period Bastian's politics changed radically. In the 1950s he had been a member of the Christian Social Union in his native Bavaria. Yet Bastian was also an opponent of the planned stationing of medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads in Europe and joined the peace movement. In 1981 he was the joint founder of a group called "Generals for Peace".
Bastian was, from 29 March 1983 until 18 February 1987, an elected member of the Greens in the German Federal Parliament. Between 10 February 1984 and 18 March 1986, he was an independent member of Parliament having separated from the Green's Parliamentary group several times over his opposition to the rotation principle for leadership then enforced in the Greens. He was then deselected by the Green Party.
Bastian was found dead in Bonn on 19 October 1992 with Kelly. According to the police report Bastian shot Kelly dead in her sleep and afterwards killed himself. No accurate time of death could be determined because of the delay in finding the corpses. He was buried in the Nordfriedhof in Schwabing, Munich.
- Miller, Marjories (November 8, 1994). "Postscript - Lover's Secret Past Seen as Key to Peace Activist's Violent End - A new biography of Greens founder Petra Kelly rules out the 'double suicide' theory.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism, by Peter Schweizer, Doubleday, 2002 (ISBN 0-385-50471-3).