Wolfgang Schneiderhan (General)

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General Wolfgang Schneiderhan

Wolfgang Schneiderhan (born July 26, 1946 in Riedlingen , Biberach district , Württemberg ) is a retired German general . D. the Bundeswehr . From June 27, 2002 to December 31, 2009, he was the 14th General Inspector of the Bundeswehr and thus the highest-ranking officer in the top division of the Bundeswehr . Since 2017 he has been President of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.


Military career

Training and first uses

On April 4, 1966, Schneiderhan began his service as an officer candidate with the armored forces of the Bundeswehr in Dornstadt . He graduated from officer training and was, two years later on 1 October 1968, Lieutenant and on April 1, 1971 Lieutenant promoted. From 1972 to 1974 he served as a youth officer in the 10th Panzer Division in Sigmaringen . He was promoted to captain on April 1, 1974. From 1974 to 1977 Schneiderhan was company commander in the 293 tank battalion in Stetten am kalten Markt , his division commander Günter Kießling , with whom he later kept in regular contact , was in this role .

Service as a staff officer

From 1977 to 1979 Schneiderhan completed the 20th Army General Staff course at the Command Academy of the Federal Armed Forces (FüAkBw) in Hamburg - together with the later Lieutenant General Hans-Heinrich Dieter and Jürgen Ruwe , among others . He was then promoted to major on October 1, 1979 .

From 1979 to 1981 he was employed as a consultant for military communications in the command staff of the armed forces (FüS) in Bonn . In 1981 Schneiderhan became Head of Operations and Training ( G3 ) at Heimatschutzbrigade 55 in Böblingen . On October 27, 1982, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel . During this time he served under Colonels Rolf Röder and Berthold Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg . 1983 Schneiderhan took in Brunssum in the Netherlands the post of operations staff officer (G3) in NATO - Headquarters Europe Center and served there under the command of General Leopold Chalupa .

Back in Germany in 1986, he took over command of the 553 tank battalion in Stetten am kalten Markt. From October 1988 to October 1990, he was finally in Regensburg as chief of staff of the 4th Panzer Grenadier Division under the command of Major Generals Kurt Barthel and Juergen Reichardt used. In this role he was promoted to colonel in 1989 .

In 1990 Schneiderhan returned to NATO in Brussels ( Belgium ), this time as an arms control officer . Here he served under US General John R. Galvin and his German deputy General Dieter Clauss . In 1992, he worked for two years as the head of the command and control department (Army) at the command and control academy of the German Armed Forces.

Service in the rank of general

On September 14, 1994 Schneiderhan again took over a troop command, this time as the commander of Panzer Brigade 39 "Thuringia" in Erfurt , which was considered to be a particularly responsible task shortly after reunification. In this role he was appointed Brigadier General on October 1, 1996 . He led this brigade until September 4, 1997 and then handed over the command to Günter Weiler .

From 1997 to 1999 he was employed as head of the Bundeswehr planning department in the command staff of the armed forces (FüS VI) in the Federal Ministry of Defense in Bonn and Berlin . On April 1, 1999, Schneiderhan was appointed major general and was deployed from 1999 to 2000 as head of the military policy and leadership department (FüS III).

Schneiderhan remained in the ministry and, after being appointed Lieutenant General on July 1, 2000, took over from Lieutenant General Harald Kujat , who was promoted to Inspector General , the post of Head of the Planning Staff of the Federal Minister of Defense under the then Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping ( SPD ). He handed this post over to Franz HU Borkenhagen in 2002 , who had previously headed the press and information staff and had previously been deputy head of the staff under Kujat and Schneiderhan himself.

On July 1, 2002, Schneiderhan was finally appointed Inspector General of the Bundeswehr - the 14th since the Bundeswehr was founded and third in the Rudolf Scharping era . Associated with this post was the appointment as general. He thus succeeded Harald Kujat again , who moved to Brussels as chairman of the NATO military committee .

During his tenure as General Inspector, his period of service was extended twice beyond the normal retirement age, in July 2007 and July 2008. Schneiderhan would therefore have retired on July 31, 2010. He was also chairman of the Bundeswehr soldiers' relief organization. V. and member of the German Armed Forces Association .

At an event organized by the German Armed Forces Association on June 16, 2009, Schneiderhan expressed himself critical of the behavior of many soldiers on deployments abroad and stated that an “all-round wellness offer with a sense of achievement” could not be guaranteed.

Because of the allegation of withholding information during the investigation into the air attack near Kunduz on September 4, 2009, both State Secretary Peter Wichert and Schneiderhan were released from his duties on November 26 by the new Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg . Schneiderhan formulated in his request for resignation: “Dear Minister, you made your declaration of November 6, 2009 on the air-to-ground mission in Kunduz on the basis of the Com-Isaf final report. No other interim reports, reports or notifications have been submitted to you. I take responsibility for that. Therefore I ask you to release me from my official duties and to retire. ”However, there are contradicting representations about the exact course of the dismissal, more precisely about the extent of the information that was not provided. Schneiderhan assured that he had made all reports on the incident available to Guttenberg by November 25th at the latest, and that he had by no means withheld any reports. Schneiderhan was retired on December 3rd with a major tattoo . On March 18, 2010, Schneiderhan finally testified before the Bundestag's Kunduz investigative committee .

His successor to the post of General Inspector was General Volker Wieker on January 21, 2010 .


During his service Schneiderhan was honored with numerous orders and decorations at home and abroad, including the Order of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Gold Cross of the Bundeswehr , the Legion of Merit of the US armed forces, the Order of the French Legion of Honor and in April 2010 with the Officer's Cross of the Ordre national du Mérite .

In 2007 he received the Great Silver Medal of Honor with the Star for Services to the Republic of Austria .

Schneiderhan was awarded the Medal of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg on April 25, 2009 and the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on April 29, 2009 by Federal President Horst Köhler personally .

On January 21, 2010, Schneiderhan was honored with the “District Citizen's Medal ” from Dirk Gaerte at the joint New Year's reception of the Sigmaringen district and the 10th Panzer Division for his commitment to the Bundeswehr and his home region .

Schneiderhan is an honorary member of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold, Bund aktiviver Demokrats e. V.

President of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.

Since November 28, 2014 he was Vice President of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V. After Markus Meckel resigned on September 22, 2016, Schneiderhan took over the provisional presidency and was elected President on April 28, 2017.


Wolfgang Schneiderhan grew up in Saulgau . He passed his Abitur in 1965 at the Störck-Gymnasium Saulgau. If Schneiderhan had not become a professional soldier, he said he would perhaps live in his Upper Swabian homeland Bad Saulgau as a teacher of German and history. He is married to the youth judge Elke Schneiderhan, née Speckhardt, and has three sons and two daughters; one of his sons committed suicide.

The former youth officer is now honorary president of the Förderverein der Jugendoffiziere e. V.

Schneiderhan is a member of the Advisory Board of the German Officer Association Foundation .

Web links

Commons : Wolfgang Schneiderhan  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Constanze Stelzenmüller : " The four-star ironic: Wolfgang Schneiderhan becomes the highest soldier of the republic " - Die Zeit No. 27/2002, p. 8
  2. Minister extends the service of the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr by another year (press release of the Federal Ministry of Defense of July 16, 2008)
  3. Criticism by four-star general "Soldiers whine at a high level" (Spiegel online from June 16, 2009)
  4. General Inspector Schneiderhan is dismissed ( Memento from November 29, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (Sueddeutsche.de from November 26, 2009)
  5. ^ Stern.de: Resignation petition to Guttenberg: What Schneiderhan withheld from the minister
  6. Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns: Schneiderhan-Guttenberg dispute: "There he says the untruth" - In: Die Zeit from December 17, 2009
  7. can / dpa / ddp: Zapfenstreich for Schneiderhan . In: SPIEGEL Online. SPIEGEL Online, December 3, 2009, accessed December 4, 2009 .
  8. Schneiderhan sees no omissions (ZEIT Online from March 18, 2010)
  9. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF; 6.9 MB)
  10. ^ Siegfried Volk: Citizen's Medal for former Inspector General Schneiderhan . In: Südkurier from January 23, 2010
  11. Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns: “ General Loyal ” - portrait in DIE ZEIT No. 45 of November 2, 2008
predecessor Office successor
Lieutenant General Harald Kujat Head of the Planning Staff of the Federal Minister of Defense
Franz HU Borkenhagen