Probe over neo-Nazi network in German police widens


German police have been shaken by an ongoing investigation into more police officers in the western German state of Hesse in relation to far-right wing extremist leanings. The state’s interior ministry stated that criminal and internal proceedings were continuing for 38 police officers. “Extremism cannot be excused in any way. For that reason, we are not playing anything down, but trying to remove these people from the service, as far as this is legally possible,” Interior Minister Peter Beuth said on Thursday, speaking to the interior affairs committee in the state parliament in Wiesbaden. Investigations have uncovered a suspected right-wing chat group used by certain officers in Frankfurt, which lies in the state of Hesse.

The German Police Federation (GdP) has acknowledged the presence of right-wing radical elements among its officers following the suspension of five officers in Frankfurt. The move came after an investigation into five officers who formed a far-right cell that shared pictures of Hitler and swastikas, and sent death threats to a Turkish lawyer’s two-year-old daughter. According to German Daily Frankfurter Neue Presse, a group called “NSU 2.0” sent threatening letters containing racist statements to Seda Başay Yıldız, one of the lawyers for the victims of the neo-Nazi terrorist group, the National Socialist Underground (NSU).

One of the letters sent in August even targeted the lawyer’s daughter. The NSU killed eight Turkish immigrants, one Greek citizen and a German police officer between 2000 and 2007, but the murders have long remained unresolved. Recent investigations have revealed severe failures of intelligence and the failure of police units in the eastern state of Thuringia to disrupt the group. The NSU is believed to have been founded by three far-right extremists, Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Bohnhardt and Beate Zschaepe, who lived in Thuringia in the early 1990s.

The investigation over the far-right network has also widened to other cities, as a police station in the Marburg-Biedenkopf district of the same province was put under investigation.

German authorities are increasingly concerned over growing right-wing terrorism in the country. The Interior Ministry said the lists were found in various police investigations and operations against far-right groups in the last seven years. Since 2016, Germany has conducted an increasing number of nationwide raids targeting right-wing groups, including houses, apartments and other properties believed to be owned by members of such groups, targeting the so-called “Reich citizens’ movement,” known as the Reichsbürgers.