West Germany's military academy started here five years ago as another postwar step toward breaking and liberalizing the old traditions of training young officers - has run into some old German problems.
Until last year, nobody paid much attention to the 2,500 young lieutenants and officer trainees attending the three-year military university here, or to the 2,000 others studying at the north German campus in Hamburg.
But last fall, 11 officers, all in their early twenties, were suspended when it was revealed that during a late-evening beer-drinking bout at the university's student center, they allegedly scribbled the word "Juden," meaning Jews, on pieces of paper and threw them into the fire.
Initially, other officiers broke it up and the university tried to handle things quietly on its own. When the event was disclosed in the press and essentially confirmed, the critical publicity was heavy and Bonn's stunned Defense Ministry suspended the students pending an investigation.
The incident was caused mostly by beer and youth, school administrators believed then and now.
"After intensive questioning of the students involved," a university spokesman said at the time, "it was concluded they were not anti-Semites and Nazis, but rather immature young soliders with a deplorable lack of insight and information."
A West German district court is still trying to figure out exactly what did happen that night. Meanwhile, students have been reinstated awaiting the court verdict and things have calmed down.
Last month, however, two more students were immediately suspended by the Defense Ministry when a third student reported a conversation over beers at a nearby sportsclub in which the two officers allegedly spoke approvingly of political murder.
One of the officers reportedly said he was not sorry that terrorists had shot industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer last fall, considering the number of things Schleyer had been involved with. Schleyer was an SS officer during the war. The other student allegedly said that by that standard, many politicians should be shot.
The first incident seemed to suggest right-wing extremists among the student body. The second seemed to suggest left-wing extremists.
Neither description is true, say school officials, teachers and students here.
"The caliber of students here is good. There are always a few black sheep in any group but this is not alarming," says the school's civilian president, Dr. Horst Engerth.
Nevertheless, these two incidents have had a far-reaching effect.
They have angered and bewildered many students, exposed the ignorance about the Nazi era that cadets have before they get here and given the Bonn Defense Ministry a bad case of the jitters. A revision of the school's curriculum to put more emphasis on the social sciences, politics and "civics" is imminent.
When the first class entered in October 1973, the idea was to produce a West German officer crops that eventually would be university trained, with heavy emphasis on the modern techincal subjects. It was also meant as a way to induce more young men into the career officer ranks.
The idea was to provide a university degree to those signing up for 12 years or more, so that when they left the service they would have less trouble finding a job in civilian life. The degree here is the equivalent of a degree from a civilian university.
But with an eye on German efficiency and the need to have men in the field as well, the Defense Ministry decided to cram four or five years' work into a three-year, year-round program. The result is enormous pressure on students.
Of almost 400 students in the aerospace curriculum, for example, 40 to 50 percent will fail and go back to basic soldiering, says department head Lutz von Wangenheim a Navy Commander.
Only two hours a week are provided for political science and no exams in that subject are required. "That's not enough political education, says von Wangenheim, "But it is as much as they can bear under the present stress they are already under," unless the school period is lengthened.
The main job here is to provide officers who can carry out their military roles better "and this university definitely provides a better educated officer," says Engerth. "But it's not a place to teach democracy to students. It's impossible to do in three years if you add politics."
The problem is well known. The public schools often avoid teaching about the Nazi era, and there is usually no real knowledge about "how a democracy functions" before they get here, says Von Wangenheim. Also, the so-called "inner leadership" program during the basic 15-month military training before university entry falls well short of its lofty goals.
In effect, the Army university will soon try to make up for some of that by expanding the material covered in political science here.
Engerth claims this was a long-term plan anyway, but several faculty members say privately that it probably would never have been approved were it not for the pressure of the two publicized incidents.
Engerth agrees that political education of young cadets is not sound enough to guarantee that there will be no more ugly incidents.
Meanwhile, because the spectre of a symbolic "Jew-burning" at a German military school is obviously so sensitive in this country, and because the first incident may have been intentionally hushed up, everyone here is authority is afraid not to report the slightest thing immediately to Bonn. The Defense Ministry acts first and investigates later.
Thus, many students here now feel that they cannot even joke while having a beer for fear that someone will tell on them and they will be immediately suspended.
"There is a danger that if every discussion off the campus will be reported, sent to the Defense Ministry and reported in the newspapers, that it will be the end of discussion of young men and the end of the university," says a young lieutenant in Dr. Klaus von Schubert's political science class.