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Sep 8 2020


The following article was originally published in German language on

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In Multinational Corps Northeast, soldiers from 25 nations serve side by side. Together they secure the north-eastern flank of NATO, from Hungary up to the Baltic States. At the Language Service of the Federal Republic of Germany Office of Defence Administration in Poland, two translators ensure smooth communication and support the Corps in fulfilling this important mission.

Veit Rauen has been a translator in the Language Service of the Bundeswehr for almost ten years. Far more than half of that, he has spent outside of Germany. Already during his studies, the now 39-year old was drawn abroad to obtain his master’s degree in Manchester, England. “After that, I actually would have liked to return to my home town Munich,” he admits. But the offer of working at the Federal Office of Languages in Hürth near Cologne ended up being too tempting. This is still convincing him today:

A broad spectrum of topics, the possibility to go on deployments abroad and
the opportunity for professional development.
Mr Freuding and Mr Rauen at the main gate of Baltic Barracks in Szczecin. This is where the military leadership as well as parts of the Federal Republic of Germany Office of Defence Administration are situated. © Bundeswehr/Heiko Müller

In the meantime, he has seen even more of the world – two deployments in Afghanistan and another one in Kosovo, followed by being a translator in Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, Poland. Originally planned to only be a stand-in for one year, and then extended to almost five years, he has spent an additional couple of defining years here. For this, you have to have the right attitude, be open and curious. This applies in the professional context but, of course, also with respect to the host country and its culture, states Mr Rauen.


Also for his colleague Manfred Freuding, Poland originally was a “blank spot on the map” that he wanted to get to know. Just like Mr Rauen, he made his decision in a “certain spirit of adventure” and also hopes to learn a little Polish in the process. The Polish language is challenging but people are very helpful and understanding, says Mr Freuding and smiles. “Poles with their well-tried politeness kindly overlook the innumerable mistakes you make as a beginner.”

Being the head of the Language Service brought the additional prospect of new professional experience. “You need a certain organizational talent and the ability to approach people,” Mr Freuding emphasizes. This is something that he already had seen during his deployments in Afghanistan and now he is benefitting from these experiences:

The environment is characterized by team spirit and cooperation of many different nations.

The contact with local linguistic personnel in theatre provided him with important insights and intercultural experience. Those are exactly the opportunities that he was hoping for when he became a translator with the Bundeswehr in 2005.


Experience from his deployments also was a formative influence for Mr Rauen from which he now benefits in a very direct way. Even though he works for the German Federal Defence Administration in Poland, his job is “a special case”, the translator reveals. “I am chiefly employed in the Headquarters of the Multinational Corps, but I don’t mind this as I like working together with soldiers,” Mr Rauen explains. He visibly feels at home in this international environment and, on top of that, it also adds another facet to his job as a translator and interpreter: “A key focus here is proofreading English texts,” Mr Rauen says.


All English documents which have an impact on the external or public image – from high-profile official letters to the “Baltic Amber” corps magazine – are landing on his desk. “Then it is about correctness, comprehensibility and terminological consistency,” the language expert elaborates. “Terminological... what?” – “Terminological consistency means that a term is clearly defined in order to avoid misunderstandings,” Mr Rauen says with a smirk. An important task because within NATO the Allies are primarily communicating in English.

So the experts from the Bundeswehr language service are completely in their element: “You have to explain problems and corrections to very different people and for all kinds of topics,” Mr Rauen reckons. In the course of this, you can still learn something even as an experienced translator and, in addition, you have close and immediate contact to your customers.


Also for Mr Freuding, it is this “human element” that gives a special appeal to his job. “The Language Service works in the German, English and Polish languages, covering a broad range of topics.” This includes documents for bidding procedures at the European level, speeches for official events, orders and announcements as well as providing support in personal matters of the Bundeswehr members posted here. “As a part of the Language Service, you always have this pleasant feeling of being able to help people directly,” Mr Freuding concludes.

Story by Ulrich Veen

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