Wolfgang Schneiderhan (general)

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For the classical violinist, see Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violinist).
Wolfgang Schneiderhan
Gen Wolfgang Schneiderhan.jpg
General Wolfgang Schneiderhan
Born (1946-07-26) 26 July 1946 (age 70)
Riedlingen, Württemberg-Hohenzollern, French Zone of Occupation of Germany
Allegiance  Germany
Years of service 1966–2009
Rank General
Awards Bundesverdienstkreuz, First Class
Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold
Legion of Honour (France)
Legion of Merit (U.S.)
Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
Eagle's Cross, First Class (Estonia)
Medal of Merit, First Class, of the Ministry of Defence (Czech Republic)
Grand Gross of Military Merit (Jordan)

Wolfgang Schneiderhan (born 26 July 1946) is a German general who served as Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, from 2002 to 2009.

Military career[edit]

Born in Riedlingen, Schneiderhan entered military service on 4 April 1966 as officer cadet (Panzerdivision, Heer). On 1 October 1968, he was promoted to Lieutenant. While serving in the Bundeswehr, Schneiderhan was awarded several medals, both in Germany and abroad. On 27 July 2002, he was promoted to General and was appointed Chief of Staff for the Bundeswehr, the highest-ranking military post in the German armed forces. Before his appointment, he served as director of planning in the Ministry of Defence.

Resignation[edit]

On 26 November 2009, he tendered his resignation as Inspector General after allegations were made against him of a cover-up relating to the 4 September 2009 Kunduz airstrike in Afghanistan.[1][2] The strike was against two fuel tankers that had been hijacked by the Taliban but also resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians.[2] Schneiderhan was alleged to have failed to provide full information about the incident for several days after the incident maintaining that no civilians had been caught in the strike.[2] The then Defence Minister, Franz Josef Jung, also played down the possibility of civilian casualties.[3] A video taken by the American F-15 Eagle fighter bomber involved in the airstrike was leaked to the newspaper Bild and is said to have clearly depicted civilians in the target area.[3]

Schneiderhan's resignation came on the same day as that of Peter Wichert, one of the two then-serving Secretaries of State in the Defence Ministry.[2] The combined resignations were described as Germany's "biggest military shake-up in more than two decades" and have been claimed as proof that the defence ministry actively suppressed information about the incident.[3][4]

Franz Josef Jung tendered his resignation as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs on 27 November 2009 because of this affair.[5]

Family[edit]

Schneiderhan is married to Elke (née Speckhardt). He has two daughters and three sons.[6] The general is the nephew of violinist Wolfgang Schneiderhan. Since November 2014 he is the vice-president of German War Graves Commission.

Honours and awards[edit]

Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, First Class
Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold
Legion of Honour (France)
Legion of Merit (United States)
Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
Eagle's Cross, First Class (Estonia)
Medal of Merit, First Class, of the Ministry of Defence (Czech Republic)
Grand Gross of Military Merit (Jordan)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spiegel.de, 26 November 2009(German)
  2. ^ a b c d "Germany's top soldier quits over Afghanistan raid". BBC News. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Boyes, Roger (26 November 2009). "Germany's top soldier Wolfgang Schneiderhan quits over airstrike blunder". The Times. Retrieved 26 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Connolly, Kate (26 November 2009). "German army chief resigns over Afghanistan air strike". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2009. 
  5. ^ Spiegel.de (German)
  6. ^ NATO biography

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Hans-Christian Beck
Commander 39 Armoured Brigade ("Thuringia")
1994–1997
Succeeded by
Guenter Weiler
Preceded by
Unknown
Deputy Chief of Staff (Planning)
1997–1999
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Unknown
Head of Military Policy and Management
1999–2000
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Harald Kujat
Bundeswehr Director of Planning
2000–2002
Succeeded by
Franz Borkenhagen
Political, not military
Preceded by
Harald Kujat
Chief of Staff of the Federal Armed Forces
1 July 2002–26 November 2009
Succeeded by
Volker Wieker