Germany’s Escape from Afghanistan: “We’re Destroying the IT. Have a Nice Sunday”

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Things go on like this until the evening, when the announcement is finally given: “Notice to move tomorrow morning at eight.” Everyone should return to the barracks by then. OK, Meinhardt thinks to herself – we’re about to be activated, but what does that really mean? They have been activated often in the past. In the end, the paratroopers from Seedorf stayed home and the KSK was deployed instead.

When it comes to the question of who will be sent, she remembers saying: “Come on, sergeant, you guys could use some women.” She doesn’t want to be told: “You’re a mom, you’re a single parent, you better stay here.” At the end of the day, she’s a soldier just like everyone else.

She says the company sergeant major hesitated a bit. “Are you sure?” he asked, but she’s sure. She wants to go, and she has a plan, too. The people in Kabul will have to be searched at the airport, she says. And who is going to do that with women if not a woman?

It’s now Sunday evening. She has been issued her weapon, the mobile phones have to be handed in soon, then they will line up and board the buses to the air base in Wunstorf. It’s not looking like an exercise.

Meinhardt dials her mother’s number. The two children are on summer vacation at grandma’s; the big one will soon turn 13 and the little one eight. She tries to keep the conversation short. “We’re being deployed today,” she says, “to Afghanistan. I don’t know for how long.”

She is no longer able to recall precisely how her mother reacted. In any case, it was panic. Maybe she asked if Jessica had a screw loose. And then nothing at all. Just silence.

She calls again later. This time, her son answers. Meinhardt later recalls that she initially wants to keep it short, but is unable to. So, she tells him that she loves him and all that and then asks him to hand the phone to grandma. Then she hears the kids in the background. She didn’t think it would be this bad. No, she thinks, this goodbye is really tough. Especially since she herself has no idea what she might be facing in Afghanistan.

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