Citing figures from the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), the Rheinische Post reported on Thursday that the Bundeswehr (German military) has recorded more than 2,500 right-wing extremist suspects.
The report comes amid a scandal which has engulfed the Bundeswehr since late April, when a soldier was arrested on suspicion of planning a far-right terror attack, leading the Defence Minister to call for sweeping reforms to the military.
In total two soldiers and one civilian have been arrested over the alleged conspiracy to kill pro-refugee politicians and – having created the fake identity of a Syrian refugee – make it look like an Islamist attack.
According to the MAD figures obtained by the newspaper through security sources, the number of right-wing extremist suspects investigated each year has actually plummeted since the draft was abolished. In 2010, there were 585 cases investigated, while in 2016, there were 227 cases.
Still, so far this year there have already been 104 cases. Suspicions are also only substantiated in about 7.2 percent of cases.
Bringing back the draft?
Before the report was published, a politician from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) proposed that bringing back the draft could actually be a solution to the Bundeswehr’s ongoing scandal.
“If we brought back the draft, citizens in uniform would act as an early warning system for spotting extremism from the far right and far left,” Patrick Sensburg told the Funke Mediengruppe on Wednesday.
He added that since the draft was abolished six years ago, the Bundeswehr no longer represents a cross section of German society.
“Out civilian population is our immune system against the enemies of democracy,” he said.
Merkel herself has since spoken out against bringing back conscription.
“What the Bundeswehr needs is predictability in its development,” she said on Thursday.
“In continuity with this decision [from 2011], we should now carry out the necessary reforms.”
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced a series of reforms for the armed forces on Wednesday, including a review of its 1982 “decree on traditions” which allows the display of Wehrmacht memorabilia within its “historical context”.
The current rules “include many good points but allow for back doors,” she said, following revelations that Nazi-era army steel helmets, weapons and pictures were on open display in some army barracks.
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