Army ritual abuse scandal spreads

The hazing scandal in the German army, in which young recruits have reportedly been forced to eat raw animal liver until they vomited, has snowballed with more soldiers blowing the whistle on ugly rites of passage, reports said Sunday.

Army ritual abuse scandal spreads
Photo: DPA

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Reinhold Robbe, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that at least five more soldiers – some serving and some of whom had left the Bundeswehr – had come to him with stories of brutalisation.

“Following the reports from one of the soldiers of the incidents in the mountain infantry unit in Mittenwald, further soldiers from the unit involved, but also soldiers from other locations, have reported to me. I will inform the (parliamentary) defence committee about it next week,” he said.

Members of the mountain infantry battalion 233 at the Edelweiss barracks in Mittenwald, Bavaria, forced their comrades to eat raw liver washed down with wheat beer until they threw up, Bild am Sonntag reported.

The hazing was supposed to be a rite of passage for soldiers to climb the internal hierarchy within the unit.

The state prosecutor in Munich was investigating one soldier on suspicion of willful bodily harm.

Robbe said the reports also pointed to an alcohol problem in the Bundeswehr.

“It appears from the stories that excessive alcohol consumption has apparently played a large role. I have the impression there is an alcohol problem in certain troop units of our Bundeswehr during off-duty hours, that we must combat decisively.

“Under no circumstances must binge drinking be allowed in the Bundeswehr – which is a combat army – in domestic or foreign locations.”

The scandal began when a young soldier who trained at the camp in Mittenwald came forward to describe hazing that included recruits being forced to drink alcohol until they were sick, eat raw pig liver, and conduct climbing exercises in the nude before their fellow soldiers, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last week.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.