German barracks searched for Nazi items

German barracks searched for Nazi items

The head of Germany’s armed forces has ordered a search of all barracks after investigators discovered Nazi-era items, broadening a scandal about right-wing extremism within its military.

The items in a barracks in Donaueschingen in southwest Germany were found in a probe after similar Nazi memorabilia was found in the base of an army lieutenant arrested in Austria on suspicion of planning a racially motivated attack.

The 28-year-old officer was stationed at a joint Franco-German base near Strasbourg at the camp of Illkirch in northeastern France. Investigators found Wehrmacht (pictured) memorabilia openly displayed in the common room without any apparent effort to remove it.

Commander-in-chief General Inspector Volker Wieker ordered a general search of army property.

“The General Inspector has instructed that all properties be inspected to see whether rules on dealing with heritage with regard to the Wehrmacht and National Socialism are being observed,” announced a ministry spokesman.

Defence minister Ursula von der Leyen said the armed forces must weed out right-wing extremists.

“We must now investigate with all due rigour and with all candour in the armed forces,” von der Leyen told the media. “The process is starting now, and more is sure to come out. We are not through the worst of it yet.”

She blamed the armed forces for leadership failures, criticising “a misunderstood esprit de corps” that led commanders to “look the other way”.

Displaying Nazi items such as swastikas is punishable under German law, although possession of regular Wehrmacht memorabilia is not. Von der Leyen has said she would not tolerate any veneration of the Wehrmacht in its modern-day iteration, the Bundeswehr.

Similar Wehrmacht items have also been found at another camp in the Black Forest town of Donaueschingen in southwest Germany.

The minister said the arrested junior officer, who had falsely registered as a Syrian refugee, was thought to have hidden around 1,000 bullets.

The suspect’s goal, she said, was thought to have been to carry out an attack in the hope it would be blamed on an asylum seeker.

Von der Leyen said, while the military had not taken right-wing extremism seriously enough, it had been distracted by the rise of Islamic State and an increasingly assertive Russia.

Picture credit: Wikimedia 


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