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Are Neo-Nazis Hiding in the German Army?

May 12, 2017
Plain English Version

Soldiers of the German Army.

Germany has the past with which it reckons. It is the memory of fascism, Hitler, and the Nazi regime. It is World War II and the Holocaust.

Over the years Germany has come to address its past. It is building a better future.

In the last few years Germany reacted to strife in the Middle East. It has led the way in taking in migrants who are fleeing danger in their home countries.

But now, something else appears to be happening. Some German soldiers are showing support for extremism. Anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise. The hatred of migrants also is rising.

Observers see Nazi flags, Nazi salutes and gestures of hatred by some soldiers. The extremists number just a few hundred. The German government is taking notice.

There are fewer than two hundred thousand German soldiers. Most of the cases of of neo-Nazis or extremists in the military have occurred in the last year and a half. The generals are under fire for not acting to stop it. The army has thrown out few soldiers.

 Blame is going around. Some are trying to identify the causes of extremism. The arrival of thousands of migrants may be contributing to the rise.

It is not surprising there are extremists in Germany. They are in every country. There should not be neo-Nazis in the military.

There is another question on the table. Could extremists be using the army as a gathering place? Germany has strict gun laws. Might extremists be joining the army knowing that they will find others like themselves? Might they join to learn how to use weapons? Would they get the kind of military training they could use in the future?

Germany is taking steps to weed out extremists. It is making its screening process better. Germany ended its military draft in 2011. Joining the army is not as popular in Germany as it is in America. Still, the echo of fascism haunts Germany. Many are looking to make sure the army does not add to that worry and fear.

Source: The New York Times May 10, 2017



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