The German Defense Ministry has opened an investigation into a series of suspected far-right incidents and sexual violence in a unit of the military honor guard, a ministry spokesman said on Friday.
At the weekly government press briefing in Berlin, Arne Collatz said several suspects in the military guard battalion have been suspended “until further notice” pending a probe.
“These incidents, of which I am bringing to your attention, shame us all deeply,” said Collatz, who vowed to follow a “no-tolerance” policy when it comes to fighting right-wing extremism in the German military.
He said the military honor guard has around 1,000 members and they are deployed during state visits and other formal events.
He added the internal investigation targets “several dozen” soldiers and the alleged incidents were uncovered in the wake of reports by fellow battalion members.
Collatz expressed “concern” over the latest incidents in the country’s military as Germany’s military and police apparatus has been grappling with a series of far-right incidents in recent years.
In January 2020, German military intelligence reported there were almost 600 suspected right-wing extremists in the army. They said the country’s elite anti-terror unit KSK was seen as a major problem, with 20 members suspected of being far-right supporters.
In 2017, inspections were conducted in all German military bases after Nazi-era memorabilia was discovered at two of them. Many of those accused of far-right ties are believed to be sympathetic to the anti-migrant opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD).