Pro-Nazi soldiers could be infiltrating the German Army
German officials fear there could be Nazis hiding within the ranks of the modern German military(wikipedia commons/ for reuse)
The German government has been investigating claims of right-wing extremism in the enlisted and officer ranks since the arrests of two German army officers in late April, both of whom were accused of an elaborate plot to assassinate the German justice minister, the former German president and stage attacks on Syrian refugees.
The current German Defense Minister, Urusula von der Leyen, is conducting a probe in hopes of flushing out as many right wing extremists as possible.
Starting within the next month, German intelligence will begin to conduct extensive background checks on all new military recruits in order to prevent neo-Nazis and right wing extremists from joining the armed forces in any capacity.
Investigators are reviewing 280 complaints of Nazi extremism within the German military, including things such as giving the infamous Nazi salute, spreading neo-Nazi propaganda, or posting racial or ideological comments on social media.
Since the arrests of the two alleged far right suspects, military officials have carefully inspected each of the 1,500 German barracks and command posts to locate and confiscate anything that could be considered memorabilia of the Third Reich.
Von der Leyen also called for the renaming of any military installation named after Nazi-era icons, of which there are at least five or more scattered around the country.
Florian Kling, an army captain and spokesman for a military watchdog group called Darmstaedter Signal, said the issue is a sore subject and must be handled quickly and carefully.
“Obviously, as German soldiers who are now fighting abroad and also protecting our democracy, we have to very carefully make sure that no one ever gets seen as being too close … to the Third Reich again,” he said.