Militia (people's army)

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A militia army or people's army are armed forces or parts of armed forces that are for the most part or completely composed of conscripts when necessary . In times of peace, militia armies usually only have very weak staff of framework and training personnel. Your material is stored in armories . The militia is thus in contrast to standing armed forces , which are strongly present in terms of personnel and material even in times of peace. A militiaman is called a militiaman or militiaman. The classic example of a militia army is the Swiss army .

History and definition

Up until the early modern period , many armies consisted of recruited or professional soldiers or mercenaries - with the exception of the civil armies of antiquity . Larger standing armies were formed from the 17th century. Militia (French from Latin) was a term for civil or popular armies in the 19th century, in contrast to the regular standing army .

Since the 20th century, militia has been a term for police and paramilitary associations on the one hand, and a special form of organization of the land forces (militia army) on the other, which is characterized by a low level of presence of troops in peacetime and by a very short basic military service and numerous based on this Defense exercises. An army can either be built up almost completely (for example, as in Switzerland) or partially as a supplement to the standing force based on the militia principle. The recruitment of militiamen, on the basis of military service carried out (eg., As in Switzerland), but (as in on a voluntary basis National Guard in the United States ) is possible. The German Landwehr in the 19th century, for example, were also known as Landmiliz, Bürgergarde or Landsturm. The German Volkssturm also had a militia character in the final phase of World War II .

Beginning with the French Revolution , conscription became established in Europe in the second half of the 19th century and then worldwide. In Germany the tradition of general conscription goes back to the Prussian reforms . While standing forces their conscripts to a sometimes lasting several years military service move, are much shorter duration (weeks to a few months) characteristic of militia armies repeated training periods.

These differences reflect the respective military policy: While great powers often strive to create armed forces as a versatile instrument of power politics, also suitable for adventure and wars of aggression, the military policy of many smaller states is defensive or reactive and dictated by thrift. One wants to keep civil life as free as possible from the burdens of military service. Likewise, undesirable developments such as militarism or the formation of a military as a state within a state can be prevented by a militia concept.

In the 19th century connected with the conscription was quartering moral reasons rejected by Catholic votes, the German Social Democrats spoke for a long time for a people's army and the to the stand monarchy sworn conventional army cadres critical.

The left workers 'movement has always preferred the militia concept in the event of an uprising ( revolution ) or the defense of existing workers' and peasant states . The reasons were:

  • First, the political influence of the ruling order on the existing (professional) armies, which were an integral part of the current order, was high. The formation of an alternative military potential had to be almost entirely recruited from the population and naturally led to militias through general arming and shorter training periods.
  • Second, the political control of the democratic institutions ( workers 'and soldiers' council ), independent of a politically dominant party over the military associations, should remain strengthened and protect the Soviet republic or the power position of the population (political revolution) in the event of bureaucratic development and political instrumentalization, sustained.

The first militia in the modern sense emerged at the end of the Franco-Prussian War , when on March 18, 1871, the Parisian population, together with the republican-oriented National Guard, opposed disarming by Emperor Napoleon III, who collaborated with the Germans . and his conservative-royalist central government under Adolphe Thiers, proclaimed the armament of the people, fortified positions in Paris and called new elections. That was the hour of birth of the short-lived Paris Commune .

In the revolutions of 1917–1923, the military forces of the insurgents consisted of militias and associations of armed workers:

Exceptions were mutinous, deserting or regular units that defected to the enemy, such as the Kronstadt sailors and fortress garrisons or the People's Naval Division .

In the Soviet Union , the militia concept or the territorial army was abolished again at the latest with the reform of the armed forces in 1935, general armament was banned and officer privileges known from the Tsarist era were reintroduced. After the Second World War, in the course of the bloc confrontation and in view of the threat of war in the Eastern bloc, systematically standing armies with an additional conscript reserve were built up. However, the militia system partially continued, for example in the form of workers ' militias in the GDR such as the factory combat groups (1952–1990) or in the People's Republic of Poland (1944–1990) in the citizens' militia .

During the Cold War in the second half of the 20th century , the advancing mechanization of the war trade , the rise in the cost of weapons systems and the unpopularity of military service prompted some western states to switch to professional armies again . The best-known examples are Great Britain in 1961 and the USA in 1973. This trend intensified after the end of the bloc confrontation. Almost all larger states maintain standing armies, while the militia system has traditionally been preferred by a number of smaller countries and states.


In Austria , general conscription applies to all male citizens aged 17 to 50 and to officers and NCOs up to 65 (Art. 9a, Paragraph 3 of the Federal Constitutional Law ; Section 1, Paragraph 2 and Section 10 of the Defense Act). Conscripts up to the age of 35 can be drafted into basic military service. Since 2006, the duration of the basic military service is six months. Before that it was eight months, whereby at least six months had to be worked without interruption. The missing months were supplemented by weapons exercises over a period of several years.

The federal army is to be set up according to the principles of a militia system (Art. 79 (1) Federal Constitutional Act ). Its operational organization consists mainly of troops that meet for exercises or operations. As of April 1, 2020, there are 33,000 conscripts in the militia. Of these, around 18,000 are required to exercise, either by voluntarily reporting to militia exercises or in accordance with the transitional provisions of Section 61 of the Defense Act]. 18,000 militiamen perform weapons exercises ordered every two years. Every year around 9,000 militiamen practice, as team ranks around 5 days and as key personnel 10 to 14 days.

According to the resolution protocol of the 11th Council of Ministers of March 18, 2020, measures were adopted on the proposal of the Federal Minister for National Defense to ensure the sustainability of the armed forces in connection with COVID-19. One of the measures concerns the planning to mobilize parts of the militia on May 4, 2020 for the security police assistance operation COVID-19. With the "Information module MILIZ (IMM)", an active communication structure was set up on March 20, 2020 by means of short messages, e-mail and a militia info website between the BMLV and militiamen in order to (especially in crisis situations) quickly, easily and sustainably To ensure information sovereignty. The armed forces thus have a modern means of command. For the first time, it was successfully used on 30.3 with the SMS sending to around 30,000 militiamen.

See also


  • Karl W. Haltiner : Militia Army - Citizen Model or Tainted Ideal? A sociological study of the effects of the change in value on the relationship between society and the army in Switzerland . Huber, Frauenfeld 1985, ISBN 3-7193-0960-6 .
  • Karl W. Haltiner, Andreas Kühner (Ed.): Conscription and Militia - End of an Era? The European change in armed forces and the Swiss militia (= military and social sciences . Volume 25). Nomos, Baden-Baden 1999, ISBN 3-7890-6104-2 .
  • Dominik Nagl: No Part of the Mother Country, But Distinct Dominions. Legal Transfer, State Formation, and Governance in England, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, 1630–1769. LIT, 2013, pp. 118-126, 466-497. ISBN 978-3-643-11817-2 . on-line

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. CORONA assistance mission