The following is a rebuttal of a noder's former writeup that existed here. I have not yet been able to format this accordingly, but will do so in due time.
To start off, the German "civil service" has a minimum of only 10 months, with the voluntary option of extending the time period for an extra 1-2 months. The military service is 9 months.
The Zivildienst used to be simply a loophole in the constitution, which states no man can be forced to participate in the act of war. These days, the majority of young Germans opt for the Zivildienst, and 95% of the moral or religious objections are accepted.
The statement that the Zivildienst is made less attractive may have been correct 30 years ago, but in modern times, it is all but encouraged. The German military is at full capacity and could not handle it if everyone were to enter the military service. Furthermore, if you look at the numbers, "Zivildienstleistende" or "Zivis" as they are called, receive more or less the same amount of money than the military draftees. Next to their regular salary (which is quite small admittedly), they receive extra money for food and are paid 60% (in some cases even more) of the rent if they do not live at home.
As an ending statement, I do not believe those 10 months are wasted. The Zivildienst is a good way to get a picture of the working environment, and it generally seems to have a positive effect on the young men who choose it. I have a friend who worked at a school for retarded children, and he has learned much from the experience, next to regarding children in a completely different way now. Personally, I believe the military draft itself should be abolished, but the Zivildienst still mandatory. It can only have a positive effect.