Far-Right Extremism Found in Less Than One Percent of German Security Forces: Report

October 6, 2020 Updated: October 6, 2020

BERLIN—Less than one percent of Germany’s police forces, security agencies, and military personnel espouse far-right worldviews and sympathies, a report by the domestic intelligence agency published on Tuesday shows.

The report, part of a wider inquiry into far-right extremism in the civil service, seeks to dispel concerns that authorities have turned a blind eye to potentially violent nationalists gaining footholds in the uniformed services.

It is a highly sensitive issue in a country still haunted by the murder of six million Jews by Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship during World War Two.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer addresses a news conference on extremism in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 6, 2020. (Wolfgang Kumm/Pool via Reuters)

“The result of the report is clear: we have a small number of cases,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

“This means that the very overwhelming majority of security employees, meaning more than 99 percent, abide by the constitution. This means also that we have no structural problem with right-wing extremism among security forces at the federal or state level.”

Seehofer commissioned the wider report into the scope of extremism within the civil service last year after the killing of a pro-immigration politician by a suspected far-right sympathizer in Hesse and a deadly attack outside a synagogue and a kebab joint in the city of Halle by an anti-Semitic gunman.

Dieter Romann, president of Germany's Federal Police Bundespolizei
Dieter Romann, president of Germany’s Federal Police Bundespolizei addresses a news conference on extremism in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 6, 2020. (Wolfgang Kumm/Pool via Reuters)

German police forces have in recent months been hit by embarrassing revelations of officers sharing racist and extremist content in far-right chatrooms or sending threatening emails to legislators of Turkish background.

“Each of these cases is a case too much,” said Thomas Haldenwang, head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency.

Holger Muench, president of Germany's Federal Police Bundeskriminalamt BKA
Holger Muench, president of Germany’s Federal Police Bundeskriminalamt BKA addresses a news conference on extremism in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 6, 2020. (Wolfgang Kumm/Pool via Reuters)

The report on Tuesday looked into extremism only within the uniformed services, based on an analysis of all cases and suspected cases in the police forces, security services, and the army at the federal level and in all of Germany’s 16 states.

Seehofer said it was the first such comprehensive report since German reunification 30 years ago.

“Each case is a disgrace … because it tarnishes the image of the whole security services,” said Seehofer.