German army's elite unit probed for far-right ties

Published 12.09.2019 00:22

Concerns over widespread far-right extremism within the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, have grown lately as an investigation was opened to probe the military's most elite unit, the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK). The level of extremist sympathy in the 1,100-person unit is feared to be "extraordinarily high," Deutsche Welle reported, based on security sources interviews by the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Amid a widening scandal over fears of hard-line racist views among soldiers in the Bundeswehr, the former chief of staff of the German armed forces, Volker Wieker, had stated two years ago that a far-right plot was not taken seriously. A 28-year-old army lieutenant known as "Franco A." had been involved in racist activities which were ignored for a long time by the army, Wieker said. In an interview with German newspaper der Spiegel, he had stated, "The case of Franco A. was ignored for a long time, concrete tips were not taken seriously." He added that recent investigations damaged the German army's reputation both inside and outside the country.

Germany, like other Western countries, has watched with alarm as far-right attacks have increased in recent years as the political climate has coarsened and grown more polarized. Regarding the growth of far-right extremism, the risk of becoming a victim of a hate crime is 10 times higher for immigrants residing in cities in eastern Germany, according to another study. The loose and diverse far-right scene also includes members of the police. The German police have been shaken by an investigation into more police officers in the western state of Hesse concerning far-right extremist leanings.

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