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Neo-NazisReforms in German army after neo-Nazi terror plot discovered

Published 11 May 2017

Ursula von der Leyen, German defense minister said that her department would improve “political education” in the army following disturbing revelations about a far-right terrorist plot. The defense minister’s plans were announced after it became clear that the German authorities had underestimated the scale of far-right extremism problem in the army ranks. The defense ministry said that it was investigating the presence of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell in an army base. Members of the cell were plotting to assassinate senior government figures – and conduct the operations in a way which would direct the blame for the assassination to Muslim asylum seekers.

Ursula von der Leyen, German defense minister said that her department would improve “political education” in the army following disturbing revelations about a far-right terrorist plot.

The defense minister’s plans were announced after it became clear that the German authorities had underestimated the scale of far-right extremism problem in the army ranks. The defense ministry said that it was investigating the presence of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell in an army base. Members of the cell were plotting to assassinate senior government figures – and conduct the operations in a way which would direct the blame for the assassination to Muslim asylum seekers.

Von der Leyen said that the Bundeswehr needed not only to improve its political education of soldiers and officers, but also provide a “faster and more efficient” way of reporting far-right activities in the ranks. Von der Leyen also stressed that the Bundeswehr’s “tradition decree” would be rewritten before the summer is over. The decree, last updated in 1982, defines the shared values German soldiers must uphold, and stipulates the manner in which the Bundeswehr addresses its Nazi past.

The New York Times reports that three men, two of them soldiers, have been arrested in connection with a plot to carry out a “grave act of violence against the state.”

The two lieutenants were planning to assassinate senior members of government and direct the blame towards asylum seekers. One of the soldiers had posed as a Syrian refugee and been granted asylum.

What upset German lawmakers is the fact that both soldiers had already been on the radar of Germany’s military intelligence agency (MAD) because of their extremist views. One of them wrote an M.A. thesis which clearly showed his neo-Nazi outlook.

Both were on the radar, both had been noticed, and with both [the authorities] ignored it,” commented Rainer Arnold, chairman of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). “The fact that the MAD closes its files on far-right action, rather than looking closely at what people are doing, is a serious mistake,” he told the DPA news agency.

After the neo-Nazi cell was discovered, Bundeswehr investigators found Nazi memorabilia in other barracks. A neo-Nazi former soldier, Christian Weissgerber, told public broadcaster ARD on Wednesday: “For me the Bundeswehr is so riddled with nationalist-conservative, racist people that it seems a little ridiculous that everyone is suddenly pretending this is something new.”