German Forces Fear Inroads By Neo-Nazis

German forces fear inroads by Neo-Nazis after plastic explosives and Nazi artifacts were found at the home of a highly ranked sergeant in the German special forces. The sergeant who was nicknamed Little Sheep was suspected of being a Neo-Nazi. According to the New York Times, buried in the garden of the sergeant’s property, “police found two kilograms of PETN plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition, much of it believed to have been stolen from the German military.” During the search the police also found “a SS songbook, 14 editions of a magazine for former members of the Waffen SS and a host of other Nazi memorabilia” (New York Times).

In a statement made by Eva Högel, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the German Armed Forces, she said that the suspected Neo-Nazi sergeant “had a plan” and that “he is not the only one” suspected to be affiliated with Neo-Nazism. According to the New York Times, Germany has had a problem with far-right infiltration of the security services for years but politicians have rejected that notion. They have only addressed individual cases of far-right extremism but none of the organized networks. According to the New York Times, “The superiors of those exposed as extremists were protected. Guns and ammunitions disappeared from military stockpiles with no real investigation.” However, the German government is now taking a look into the increasingly alarming far-right infiltration in the military and Germany’s special forces. According to the New York Times, “cases of far-right extremists in the military and police, some hoarding weapons and explosives, have multiplied. The nation’s top intelligence officials and senior military commanders are moving to confront an issue that has become too dangerous to ignore.” By cracking down on far-right extremism now the German government is hopeful to dismantle the networks that run high up Germany’s most influential armed forces.

According to the New York Times, “the problem has deepened with the emergence of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which legitimized a far-right ideology that used the arrival of more than a million migrants in 2015 –and more recently the coronavirus pandemic –to engender a sense of impending crisis.” Since then there have been more cases of far-right extremists and most concerning, they happen to be “concentrated in the military unit that is supposed to be the most elite and dedicated to the German state, the special forces,” known as the KSK (New York Times).

After the weapons, explosives, and Nazi memorabilia were found at the sergeant’s property, who was also a member of KSK, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany’s defense minister, “took the drastic first step of disbanding a fighting company in the KSK considered infested with extremists” (New York Times). Kramp-Karrenbauer said, “The KSK cannot continue in its current form.” She described the KSK as “an unhealthy elitism” that has “developed and promoted extremist tendencies.” In addition, General Eberhard Zorn, inspector general of the armed forces, said that around “48,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms of explosives have gone missing from the special forces.” He added that those explosives “were used by the KSK to explode building facades on special missions abroad.”

According to the New York Times, “Germany’s military counterintelligence agency is now investigating more than 600 soldiers for far-right extremism, out of 184,000 in the military. Some 20 of them are in the KSK.” However, they are also concerned that the far-right infiltration has gone beyond the KSK and reached more of Germany’s security forces. In the past year, “far-right terrorists have assassinated a politician, attacked a synagogue and shot dead nine immigrants and German descendants of immigrants” (New York Times). According to Thomas Haldenwang, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, far-right extremism and terrorism is the “biggest danger to German democracy today.”

German authorities are beginning to address this issue of far-right infiltration in its security institutions and it is crucial they continue to do so until they have put an end to far-right extremism. According to the New York Times, far-right extremists have been found “hoarding weapons, maintaining safe houses, and in some cases keeping lists of political enemies.” The risk of Neo-Nazi influence in Germany’s most powerful security forces is too high to be ignored at this time. Assassinating politicians, murdering immigrants, and terrorizing synagogues cannot be tolerated nor dismissed. Germany must investigate the individual cases of extremism and the networks of those involved in them in order to protect the country and its people from the biggest threat to its democracy.