Germany investigates hundreds of suspected right-wing extremists in its armed forces
Germany’s Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD) is looking into 53 extremism cases among Bundeswehr soldiers from 2017, 143 cases from 2016 and 79 cases from before 2016, the Defense Ministry said in a letter to the Bundestag.
The inquiry has been initiated by domestic affairs spokesperson for the Left Party, Ulla Jelpke.
The 16-page letter expands on the cases that involve soldiers making gestures used in Nazi Germany along with the “Heil Hitler” phrase, and verbally abusing fellow servicemen with a migrant background.
A number of implicated soldiers have already been laid off or punished with a fine, but the measures seem inadequate to the offense, the Defense Ministry said.
Specifically, cases 2, 22 and 29 relates to soldiers who were heard chanting “Heil Hitler,” “Heil our leader” or “Sieg Heil, comrades.”
“The case was passed on to the military prosecutor and the public prosecutor’s office, but neither an early dismissal nor a service ban took place,” the ministry said.
In another case a soldier who used a Facebook page associated with the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) left racist comments and call to introduce the death penalty for “typical foreigners.” As a consequence, the soldier was “disciplined,” the minister noted.
In a third case, another already “disciplined” serviceman was allowed to keep his weapon after he extended his hand in a Nazi salute while on a trip to Riga, Latvia.
Today in Germany, Nazi salutes in all forms – written, uttered or even performed as a gesture – are outlawed and are punishable by up to three years in prison as stated in the German Criminal Code.
In August 2016, the German Cabinet has approved an amendment to the German military law that allowed the MAD intelligence service to thoroughly check each applicant for possible connections to terrorist or extremist groups. The amendment is supposed to come into force on July 1, 2017.
In November 2016, 20 Islamists were uncovered in the German army, a media report said at the time, which revived the discussions over additional security checks among Bundeswehr-hopefuls and recruits.