German army scandal spreads

The scandal surrounding an alleged terrorist cell in the German army is growing. After the arrest of First Lieutenant Franco A. in April, two further potential accomplices have been arrested. Franco A. is accused of planning an attack on high-ranking politicians in protest against Germany's refugee policy. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has now ordered a crackdown - which has divided the press.

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Zeit Online (DE) /

Nazi memorabilia should be rooted out

On Friday orders were given to search all German army barracks for Wehrmacht and SS memorabilia. Since then the Defence Ministry has registered a growing number of reports of such material being found, writes Zeit Online and is taking the side of the defence minister Ursula von der Leyen against her critics:

“It's unlikely that people are only now noticing the Nazi-era helmets and swastikas. It's much more likely that this is an indication that it's becoming harder to tolerate intolerable historical references. It should encourage those members of the army who have always spoken out against far-right activities and the glorification of the Nazi war past. The massive criticism of von der Leyen distracts from two important debates which must follow the case of Franco A. Firstly: how should the German army deal with right-wing extremism in its own ranks? And what role does the Wehrmacht tradition play here? ... Secondly: who has the country entrusted with its defence?”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Embarrassing exorcism sullies soldiers

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, however, the search of German army barracks is incomprehensible:

“This awful incident should not lead to a defamation of the military. Unfortunately, however, this is already well underway – on the orders of the defence minster herself. The search of all army offices for supposedly anti-constitutional symbols is an embarrassing exorcism meant to wash von der Leyn clean but sully the soldiers. The German army was built up by officers of the Wehrmacht and for decades it continued to use and develop its equipment and training methods. Like the Wehrmacht, the Bundeswehr did not evolve out of nowhere. If resistance can only be born of tradition - why are the generals playing along with this masquerade?”