As political pundits note the rise of far-right extremism throughout Europe, a new report suggests it may also be bleeding into military ranks.
According to Reuters, the German military’s counter-intelligence agency has identified 275 possible right-wing extremists in the military. One, Reuters reports (based on a letter it saw on Sunday), said “Heil Hitler.”
The German Defense Ministry offered parliament a 15-page letter, wherein it described some of the incidents that had recently taken place among the suspects.
In several instances, Reuters reports, soldiers would perform Nazi salutes or subject military officers with migrant backgrounds to racial slurs.
Particularly troubling to the Defense Ministry is the fact that in many cases — especially the most serious ones — the perpetrators received minimal reprimands for their actions.
In one instance, authorities hear a soldier saying “Sieg Heil, comrades,” and “Heil Hitler.”
Though Germany has prohibited the public display of Nazi symbols or salutes, the soldier who made these remarks faced no repercussions.
“The case was passed on to the military prosecutor and the public prosecutor’s office, but neither and early dismissal nor a service ban took place,” the ministry wrote.
Other cases the ministry highlighted included a soldier who was not stripped of his weapon after being disciplined for performing a Nazi salute, and another soldier being “only disciplined” for writing on Facebook that “typical foreigners” should receive the death sentence.
The investigation comes at approximately the same time as the German government has motioned to deny the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) public funding. Many have concerns that the 6,000-member far-right party — whose operating slogan is “Germany for the Germans” — has eerie similarities to Nazi Party ideologies.
Next, read about the growing trend of Holocaust deniers and what motivates them.