What is hell week

Commando soldier

The Hell Week is part of the aptitude test at the Special Forces Command, in which the candidates are systematically pushed to their performance limits. The constant stress and the pajamas paired with various tasks that the soldiers have to solve are the toughest training the Bundeswehr has to offer. According to a former KSK major, a 160-kilometer march is followed by an interrogation simulation in which the applicant is interrogated in a bunker for over eight hours. Methods such as “bright light, loud rock music, blindfolds, freezing cold, water that is poured from buckets over the head” are used. These measures are, however, approved in detail by the Defense Commissioner of the German Bundestag. The exercise for dealing with a capture and interrogation situation is in parts comparable to the SERE training of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) of the US armed forces.

The tough selection process is intended to sort out unsuitable applicants in advance in order to later reduce the number of dropouts in the cost-intensive training to become commandos. Later failures are therefore mostly due to injuries.

The soldiers lose up to eight kilos in body weight during the "hell week". Successful graduates of Block 2 are qualified for the subsequent basic training; if they fail, they are transferred back to the sending unit (core unit).

Insight into the hell week in the KSK selection process