German Army Probing 275 Cases of Right-wing Extremism, Including anti-Semitism

In one incident, a soldier gave a Nazi salute

German Bundeswehr soldiers arrive at an airport in Kaunas, Lithuania, February 1, 2017.
Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

Germany's military counter-intelligence service is investigating 275 suspected right-wing extremist offences, the country’s Defense Ministry said.

Of those, 143 cases date back to 2016, with 53 new cases recorded this year, Germany's Funke media group reported Sunday, citing a response from the Defense Ministry to a parliamentary question. 

Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, reported 63 incidents to parliament last year in the areas of extremism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Several of the cases related to propaganda offenses, such as giving the Nazi salute, while others involved making racist comments online. In one incident, a soldier attacked refugees after asking them whether they were Christians or Muslims. 

Eleven of these incidents resulted in dismissals and others in fines, the report said.

Right-wing extremism is an issue that the German military has to observe closely, Bartels told the media group, adding that supervisors normally reacted quickly and consistently to incidents.

Ulla Jelpke, a parliamentary spokeswoman for the left-wing party Die Linke party, described the German military's approach to right-wing extremists as "highly problematic."

"Anyone who turns out to be a Hitler fan has to be kicked out of the German military," she said.