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NATO’s German Troops Training Baltic Forces Spread Extremism

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NATO’s German Troops Training Baltic Forces Spread Extremism

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

Germany recalled a platoon from a NATO mission in Lithuania last week after Der Spiegel revealed that soldiers were engaging in racist and anti-Semitic behavior, as well as sexual assault. The German soldiers were in Lithuania as part of NATO’s “enhanced forward presence,” a mission aimed at further integrating Baltic forces into the West’s pressure campaign against Russia.

According to Der Spiegel, a party was held at a hotel in Lithuania at the end of April. At the party, German soldiers bullied and threatened violence against their comrades, sang anti-Semetic songs, and even filmed an incident of sexual assault against another soldier. Der Spiegel reported that in another incident German soldiers sang songs to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday on April 20. 

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Twitter that the soldier’s behavior would be “punished with all severity.”

“The misconduct of some soldiers in Lithuania is a slap in the face of everyone who works in the Bundeswehr [German army] day after day to serve the security of our country,” she tweeted, adding that the entire platoon would be withdrawn with “immediate effect.”

Although this was a huge scandal in Germany and across European media, Lithuania itself has been oddly silent and is almost pretending as if there was no incident. Lithuania of course did not fail to allege last week that Russian warplanes flew too close to their border.

It is recalled that Kramp-Karrenbauer ordered in 2020 the partial dissolution of the elite KSK commando force after 20 of its members were suspected of right-wing extremism. In 2017, inspections were ordered on all German military barracks after Nazi-era memorabilia were found in two of them. Also in 2017 was the extraordinary case of Franco A., a former soldier accused of posing as a Syrian refugee to plan a far-right terrorist attack against German politicians. In January 2020, Christof Gramm, the head of Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), revealed that 360 cases of suspected right-wing extremism were registered in the German military in 2019. In fact, MAD said it was investigating 550 German soldiers suspected of right-wing extremism.

There is undoubtedly an issue of Nazism and extremism in the German military. In fact, this extremism is not only reduced to the military, but even German police forces. Earlier this month, the state of Hesse dissolved the elite police force in Germany’s second city of Frankfurt after a number of officers were found to be involved in extreme right-wing chat groups, which included swastikas and images of Hitler. A local official confirmed that a total of 49 current members of police forces in the state were found to be members of the chat groups.

On Monday, Zsolt Balla became the first rabbi of the German military since the 1930′s. He said that “We have to work with a vision for the future, of how we want German society and the Bundeswehr to look like in a decade.” Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Balla’s appointment as the German military’s chief rabbi “contributes against growing anti-Semitism, extremism and populism in society.”

However, he has a difficult task at hand since reported cases of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany rose by 15.7% to 2,351 last year, with almost all of these incidents motivated by right-wing extremism, according to the Federal Interior Ministry. The crimes were “not only worrying but also deeply shameful against the background of our history,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a news conference last month. This is of course alarming as the common perception is that most anti-Semitic crimes in Germany are perpetrated by Muslims, adding more difficulties to negative stereotyping of minorities in the country. Extremism is therefore not only an issue in the German military, but all across society.

Continuous and persistent extremism in the German military is especially alarming considering they have a strength of 183,907 active-duty military personnel, placing it among the 30 largest military forces in the world and making it the second largest in the European Union after France in terms of personnel. Germany’s military expenditure is $52.8 billion, making it the seventh best-funded military in the world. The country also aims to expand personnel to around 203,000 soldiers by 2025. Germany, along with its impressive military industrial complex, is undoubtedly a military power.

Anti-Slavic racism was an essential component of Nazism and Adolf Hitler regarded Slavs as non-Aryan Untermenschen (subhumans). With German soldiers placed in Lithuania at a time when the West is conjuring Russophobia, it is extremely alarming that the German military, who undoubtedly have a problem with Far-Right extremism, is training alongside not only Lithuanian soldiers, but also Latvian and Estonian soldiers. Although Germany says it is dealing with the issue of Nazism and extremism in its armed forces, the question must be raised on how deeply these ideologies penetrate the upper echelons of the military apparatus, and what kind of influence they have on the soldiers they train in the Baltic countries which are consumed by aggressive Russophobia.

Source: InfoBrics

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