The number of cases is rather small, and yet every single one is a scandal. Between July 2018 and June 2021, 327 right-wing extremists and Reich citizens were employed by the security authorities and the Bundeswehr. This is the situation picture of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser presented on Friday.
327 enemies of the constitution are a very small minority in relation to the 355,000 men and women who are responsible for protecting the population at federal and state level. But a very dangerous one.
Police officers and soldiers have access to weapons and ammunition. The risk of fanatics in the security authorities and the Bundeswehr using their knowledge and skills to fight democracy should not be underestimated.
In a right-wing extremist terrorist group that was exposed in 2020, a police officer propagated the use of service weapons “against every rabble” on the Internet. Such cases damage the necessary trust of the population in the protective organs of the state.
It was overdue for the BfV to present a new management report that has more substance than the first paper in 2020 – and comes closer to the dimension of the problem. And it is a stroke of luck for democracy that Faeser and BfV President Thomas Haldenwang are tackling the issue with great commitment.
Minister Faeser wants to present a draft amendment to the Federal Disciplinary Act in 2022 in order to be able to remove enemies of the constitution from an authority more quickly. The fact that it can take years for a right-wing extremist to leave the police or another security authority is an intolerable situation. Nor is it in the spirit of staff who may be wrongly accused of being an extremist and then have to wait forever before being rehabilitated.
However, a stricter law alone will not be enough. The police, intelligence services, customs and armed forces must do more on their own initiative to prevent extremism in their ranks.
The Federal Criminal Police Office has had a “values officer” since 2021, who is intended to strengthen employees’ resilience against extremism and discrimination. This is a model that should be adopted nationwide. Especially in regions where the AfD reaches large parts of the population with inflammatory slogans and probably also clouds the minds of many police officers. A look at the AfD candidate lists in state elections shows how this works. Police officers are “well” represented.
Politicians and the protection of the constitution must stay tuned to the issue of right-wing extremism in security agencies. The next situation report will also have to report on how many corona deniers work in the police and other government services.