German army suspends soldiers over far-right suspicions
The German army has suspended soldiers in its ceremonial guard over suspicion of sexual aggression and sympathy with the far-right, a recurring problem within the Bundeswehr.
The company, part of a prestigious battalion tasked with welcoming foreign heads of state, was "withdrawn" from active service in relation to incidents which occurred "in a far right context", a spokesman for the German defence ministry said Friday.
The group is said to have participated in "perverse initiation and drinking rituals" and submitted new recruits to "sexualised violence", according to the spokesman.
A witness told the German weekly Der Spiegel, which uncovered the affair, that within the battalion's second company, at least six soldiers had formed a far-right group, calling themselves the "wolf pack".
The head of the group is said to have aimed racial insults at other soldiers from minority backgrounds. A soldier at a rank equivalent to corporal is said to have worn a t-shirt with the slogan "Sonnenstudio 88", a number which represents "Heil Hitler" in the neo-Nazi movement.
The alleged incidents "bring shame on us all", the defence ministry spokesman said.
The German army, the Bundeswehr, will "pursue all legal means" to "remove" the culprits identified by other soldiers.
The German government has been worried for years about some soldiers, including those in the special forces, adhering to far-right groups.
The elite KSK commando force was partially dissolved in 2020 after munitions were stolen and members were seen performing a Hitler salute at a party.
In June, a platoon stationed in Lithuania was recalled after accusations of racist and anti-Semitic behaviour.