A report by the German Federal Intelligence agency listed more than 1,400 instances in which soldiers, police officers and Intelligence officials were suspected of extremist actions.
The report is a first attempt to document the extent of far-right infiltration in the security services. It comes as the number of cases of extremists found in police forces and the military has multiplied.
Dozens of police officers have been suspended for joining far-right chat groups and sharing neo-Nazi propaganda. In June this year, the Defence minister disbanded a whole company of Germany’s Special Forces after explosives, a machine gun and SS memorabilia were found on the property of a sergeant major.
Horst Seehofer, the German Interior minister, insisted that there was no structural problem, and said the vast majority of people in the security services were loyal to the German Constitution. He said that we are dealing with a few cases, and that the overwhelming majority of the employees at the security agencies (over 99 per cent) “are firmly rooted in the Constitution”.
The 98-page report, which covers a period beginning in January 2017, explains that the real number of extremists was almost certainly higher than that reported and warned that even a relatively small number of highly trained officers who are radicalised constituted a significant danger for the State and for society. According to the report, identifying extremists remains a high priority for the security service.
For years, German politicians and security chiefs rejected any suggestion that the security services had been infiltrated by the far right, acknowledging only individual cases. But the number of cases has continued to rise since data for the report was collected.
Last month, the head of the military counterintelligence agency, Christof Gramm, was dismissed because the agency on his watch had repeatedly failed in its mission to monitor and detect extremism in the armed forces.
Haldenwang, the head of the Federal Intelligence, whose agency was founded after World War II and is known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has warned that far-right extremism and terrorism constitute the biggest risk for Germany’s democracy today.
Over the past 15 months, Germany has witnessed three deadly terrorist attacks by far-right extremists. A regional politician was shot on his front porch, a synagogue was attacked, and nine people of immigrant descent were shot.
In September this year, the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia suspended 29 police officers suspected of sharing images of Hitler and violent neo-Nazi propaganda in online chat groups. Last week, another group, this time Intelligence agents responsible for monitoring far-right extremists, was found to have shared xenophobic and anti-Islamic videos.