Extremism Debate

Germans At Odds with Their Army

main 78861680 source Picture-Alliance Bernd Von Jutrczenka DPA – Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen Ship navy army port of Rostock July 2015
Germans are unhappy with their defense minister. Picture source: Picture Alliance

Germans have a complicated relationship with their military. And while many Germans have gotten used to the idea of an army deployed abroad for peace and training missions, several scandals in recent months have rocked the faith the country has in its troops, raising questions over the widespread intolerance in its units.

A Thursday “Deutschlandtrend” survey by public broadcaster ARD, widely regarded as the country’s most authoritative poll and conducted among 1,000 adults, found that trust in the armed forces dropped from 59 percent in July 2016 to 49 percent roughly a year later.

Germany’s Bundeswehr, a volunteer army since 2011 currently counting some 178,000 active soldiers, has suffered a series of accusations over discrimination and large-scale right wing extremism in its ranks.

Counter-intelligence is looking into 275 cases of suspected right-wing extremists in its ranks, according to a letter from the ministry to parliament. Cases include a soldier was heard saying “Heil Hitler” and another who was allowed to keep his weapon after being disciplined for performing the Nazi salute. Both are acts forbidden under German law.

 

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