16:00 GMT +322 July 2019
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    A German Bundeswehr soldier of the 122th Infantry Battalion

    Flushing Fascism: German Army Probes Soldiers for Online Right-Wing Extremism

    © AP Photo / Matthias Schrader
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    In shades of the inappropriate online behavior widely promulgated by US Marines on Facebook and other social media platforms, some 275 German military servicemembers have been brought under investigation by Berlin for online hate-speech and right-wing extremism, including instances of Hitler-appreciation.

    Among the 275 ongoing inquiries, Berlin's Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is currently investigating 143 cases of expressing domestic extremism online in 2016, as well as 53 cases recorded to date this year.

    Propaganda crimes and racist commentary online, including those expressions appearing to be supportive of Nazi leader Adolph Hitler, are among the charges being investigated, according to Deutsche Welle, and include verbal abuse regarding the religious beliefs of a female refugee.

    Noting that most of the soldiers under investigation have access to weapons, MAD has discharged some servicemembers and given fines to others. Top brass in the German military have been quick to take action over the practice of hate-speech and, particularly, any online expression of right-wing extremism.

    For some politicians in Berlin, however, the punishments and fines are not enough. Ulla Jelpke, a speaker with Germany's Left Party, suggested that the Bundeswehr reaction to right-wing extremism within the ranks of its service members was "highly problematic."

    She added that, "Whoever turns out to be a Hitler fan needs to get out of the army."

    Seeking to prevent the recruiting of those who only want to learn how to use high-powered military weapons as a means to commit extremist violence in the country and beyond its borders, Berlin has increased funding for MAD's efforts to ferret out nationalists, Islamists, and other fringe elements from the Bundeswehr.

    As of July, new recruits seeking to join the German military will have to weather a background security check prior to being enlisted. Currently, members of the Bundeswehr receive security checks only after entering service.

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    Tags:
    homegrown extremism, extremism, investigation, hate speech, online abuse, Internet, investigations, German Military Counterintelligence (MAD), Bundeswehr, Adolph Hitler, Ulla Jelpke, Berlin, Germany
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