Bonn A new exhibition in the Bonn-Hardthöhe focuses on the nature and work of the Bonn Joint Support Service.
The first postcards with comradely greetings from Gao and other foreign assignments are already hanging on the pinboard in building 650 in the defence ministry. They are reactions to the current exhibition on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Armed Forces Base (the SKB). Among the exhibits is also a field post-office counter, as used for the postal service of the operational forces. Blank postcards are available, and visitors are invited to use them to send greetings to specific soldiers or entire units. The exhibition was officially opened on Friday in the presence of the Inspector General of the German Armed Forces, General Eberhard Zorn, and the Inspector of theJoint Support Service base, Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis.
The exhibition is part of the agenda “Armed Forces in leadership – active, attractive, different”, in the context of which similar “regional exhibitions” are currently being presented at 19 Bundeswehr locations. According to the Armed Forces, their purpose is to strengthen and develop the identity of services and associations.
The exhibition deals with more than just history
The Joint Support Service base presents its history and portfolio in three rooms. As a military organisational unit, it has been operating on an equal footing with the army, navy, air force and medical Services since 2000 and in recent years, also with cyber- and information space. The SKB is commanded by Lieutenant General Schelleis with about 1,000 military and civilian posts at the Hardthöhe.
Inspector Schelleis made it clear that the exhibition not only deals with historical connections, but is equally about the dovetailing between troops and society and about the practical shaping of the interior leadership, and he did not hide the fact that the SKB, as a comparatively young pillar of the Bundeswehr, is also interested in establishing tradition. The Inspector General also mentioned “making tradition visible” as one intention connected with the expectations of the exhibition.
One tradition of the SKB that quickly becomes clear even to military laymen during the tour is the diverse profile of various military and other capabilities, on the basis of which the SKB is often described as a “common service facility” of the troops.
In the foyer, for example, the exhibition initially depicts the entire SKB capability profile and then deals with each topic in the next room. There is the above-mentioned field post-office counter, sandbags for flood protection, sports equipment symbolises the responsibility for the corresponding activities in the armed forces, and in one corner a dummy in the uniform of a military attaché reminds us that the joint Support Services also takes over the organisation of multinationality within the forces. And finally, the support operations are depicted, consisting of display boards with pictures of transfers, camp construction and military music symbolising the German Armed Forces' medal of deployment, which has been awarded since 1996.
The heart of the exhibition is a multimedia table
The centre of the exhibition area contains an interactive multimedia table, where up to four visitors can simultaneously find out about the history and people of the SKB in films, texts and pictures on a recessed 55-inch touch screen. At the touch of a button, for example, a huge digital map of Germany with the locations of the German Armed Forces appears, which offers completely new possibilities for randomly choosing the location of the forces, as the Inspector General jokingly noted.
The next room is also entertaining, with a bar table in the centre where you can play a board game. During a kind of “Trivial Pursuit” for army experts, the generals present spontaneously engaged in an exciting skirmish, much to the delight of the surrounding staff officers.
Things become serious again when you leave the room. Next to the exit there is a plaque with the names of the SKB members who died in action or in service, similar to the German Armed Forces war memorial in Bendlerblock in Berlin.
The exhibition on the premises of the Federal Ministry of Defence at Hardthöhe, Fontainengraben 150, Building 650 (1st floor) can also be visited by the public from Monday to Thursday from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. The SKB also offers guided tours by appointment. Interested parties should contact us at ☎ 0228/55042084 or by e-mail at KdoSKBFuePersInFue@bundeswehr.org.
(Original text; Rüdiger Franz; translation John Chandler)