Several suspected neo-Nazis have been discovered in the ranks of Germany’s special forces, raising renewed questions about the level of extremist penetration of the Bundeswehr’s elite fighting unit.
A soldier in the KSK, Germany’s highly secretive equivalent to the SAS, is to be suspended from service this week after an internal investigation discovered his links to far-Right extremism, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reports.
Based in the small town of Calw in southern Germany, the KSK are assigned the most secretive and dangerous missions in the German army, including anti-terror operations and hostage rescues in war zones.
The Bundeswehr’ counterintelligence agency (MAD) investigated the seasoned soldier over a period of months after receiving a tip-off from an informant. Investigators are reportedly probing why the corporal’s extremist views were never reported up the chain of command, despite him completing tours of duty in Afghanistan.
A further two soldiers are suspected of having giving the Hitler salute, an illegal offence in Germany, during a private party thrown by the corporal. One of the men has already been suspended while an investigation into the other continues.
Concern that the elite forces had become a hotbed of extremism was aroused last year when it became known that a KSK combatant played a central role in secretly organised a group of “Preppers” in preparation for a “Day X”.
Subsequent investigations into the group have led to arrests, weapons seizures and the emergence of alleged “death lists” containing names of left-wing politicians and activists.
A separate investigation into a highly decorated KSK soldier earlier this year led to his suspension over connections inside the far-right Identitarian movement.
While the exact activities of the MAD investigation remain secret, German media reported in the summer that they had started to focus particular attention on the KSK’s base in Calw due to multiple indications that extremism was prevalent among the elite troops.
In the autumn a report in Der Spiegel claimed that over two dozen investigations had been opened into KSK soldiers, a remarkably high number for a unit believed to contain some 1,100 service men.