For seventeen years the memorial to deserters from the German Army has languished in a private garden; permission to erect it in a public place had been refused.
Finally on the 19 November 2005 the Friedenswerk, a local peace group, formally unveiled the memorial. Sited at the entrance to the University’s botanical garden, while not as prominent as the organisers would have wished is none the less an attractive public site.
Originally the memorial was unveiled in September 1989 in front of a popular art venue in Ulm. Four weeks later, the city council had it removed. A attempt in 1995to get the city council to reconsider its earlier decision failed.
Since then a number of events contributed to a change of attitude towards deserters this included the 1993 decision by the EU parliament to offer asylum to deserters from Yugoslavia and the decision by the German parliament to rehabilitate Wehrmacht deserters in 1997. Convictions for desertion were only formally and legally reversed by the German parliament in 2002 (although the Nazi-era convictions for treason in wartime were not annulled).
The memorial remembers the men who deserted the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. In Germany, unlike in Britain, to be a conscientious objector was a capita crime so not surprisingly few objectors declared themselves; those who did were summarily executed many therefore simply disappeared or deserted. Some 15,000 men were executed for desertion during World War Two.