The controversy swells in Germany around Christine Lambrecht. The defense minister found herself at the center of opposition criticism on Tuesday over a private trip of her son aboard an army helicopter.
The minister and her son, Alexander Lambrecht, 21, traveled in mid-April by military helicopter to the island of Sylt in Schleswig-Holstein for a private stay, the media revealed Business Insider. Christine Lambrecht, who had previously visited a battalion stationed in this region of northern Germany, then reached the island with her son aboard a Cougar helicopter for the Easter weekend. The minister’s son even posted a photo of himself in the helicopter on Instagram.
“Do not confuse the Luftwaffe with Lufthansa”
To extinguish the criticism, the ministry assured that she had paid the bill for the flight of her son, estimated by the press at around 5,000 euros per hour. But the social-democratic minister, propelled to the fore since the start of the war in Ukraine, has nevertheless drawn criticism, in particular from conservatives, relegated to the opposition since the end of 2021.
“Using the Bundeswehr for private and partisan purposes is inelegant,” castigated the first secretary of the CDU-CSU group in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei. “The Minister of Defense should show more tact and not confuse the Luftwaffe (air force) with Lufthansa”, the main German airline, he quipped to the daily. Picture.
A minister already criticized on Ukraine
“The timing of the minister’s vacation on the island of Sylt, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, was already limited,” added Reinhard Brandl, in charge of defense issues within the CSU, the Bavarian conservative party. “That his son is now bragging on Instagram that he was able to fly in the government helicopter to Sylt is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The controversy was also taken up in the very camp of Christine Lambrecht. Member of the liberal FDP party, one of the components of the current majority, the president of the defense committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, judged the procedure “rather unusual” and asked for a “clarification”.
The case falls badly for the minister, already under the fire of criticism in recent weeks because of the procrastination of the German government vis-à-vis Ukraine and military aid, deemed insufficient by kyiv. Former Minister of Justice of the government of Angela Merkel, Christine Lambrecht had also suffered sarcasm in particular in February by announcing the sending to Ukraine of 5,000 military helmets, while kyiv demanded heavy weapons like tanks.