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Thu Nov 19, 2020, 12:00 PM

How right-wing extremists have infiltrated German security forces - PBS NewsHour

In Germany, prosecutors on Wednesday asked for life imprisonment for a right-wing extremist charged with killing two people outside a synagogue last year. The move comes amid growing calls to investigate neo-Nazi infiltration of the country’s security services -- which are creating a frightening echo of Germany’s past. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Berlin.

Back to the future in a bleak East Berlin suburb. Right-wingers marked 30 years of German reunification with a rally ripe with 1930s attitudes. Up went a chant from a banned neo-Nazi song predicting ultimate victory. This group has sprung from an outlawed extremist party, The Third Path, that shares ideology with similar European groups. Its logo contains a nod to Hitler's Third Reich.


The problem about the army is that we don't know anything. There is a more or less closed shop that we only hear about in the public from special incidents. But we know that the majority of the right-wing scene is full of trained people from the German Bundeswehr.

These concerns are shared by Germany's highest echelons. Last month's celebrations, muted by COVID-19, were supposed to toast the 30-year-long marriage of East and West Germany after the Iron Curtain disintegrated.

But President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was compelled to call for vigilance against neo-Nazis.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (through translator):

They want another state, an authoritative state that aggressively excludes parts of society. They see themselves as part of a tradition that this republic doesn't stand for and that has nothing to do with our democracy.


The German police are not immune either. Confidence in the police was rocked after 30 officers were suspended for sharing extreme material in online chat rooms that included images of Adolf Hitler and depictions of a refugee in a gas chamber. Heike Kleffner leads a nonprofit that supports victims of right-wing violence. She's one of hundreds of people named on right-wing death lists.


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