German military shame as its troops ‘hold antisemitic party’ on anti-Russia Nato mission

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Defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has taken personal charge of the investigation as her army grapples with right-wing extremism in its ranks. If found wrongdoing is established, the incident is the latest in a string of similar episodes that have plagued the German army in recent years. These include a notorious 2017 campfire party at which elite special forces commandos were said to have performed Hitler salutes, hired a prostitute and tossed around a severed pig’s head.

After the latest scandal, as many as ten soldiers could face disciplinary proceedings.

It comes after a night at a hotel near Nato’s enhanced forward base in Rukla, about 40 miles from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Germany’s army, the Bundeswehr, lead a 1,200-strong Nato battlegroup in the country.

It is one of four stationed across the transatlantic alliance’s eastern frontier to deter Russia from attacking.

German publication Der Spiegel reported troops were allowed to leave base for “recreational measures” at a local hotel.

Soldiers are generally barred from consuming alcohol on the Rukla base but are often released to local hotels for some downtime at the weekend.

The party is believed to have taken place in April but was only reported to the authorities by one attendee last week.

According to witness statements, several troops sang songs with far-right and antisemitic lyrics.

Some of those at the party were said to have become involved in a fight and made sexist remarks to a female soldier.

One soldier allegedly put his penis in the mouth of another who had passed out from drinking too much.

Other squadmates were said to have filmed the alleged assault on their mobile phones.

The victim is reported to have been taken back to Germany to see an army psychologist.

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If the claims are confirmed, they will cause significant reputational damage to Nato in Lithuania.

The German army has long been fighting what it believes to be a Russian-backed disinformation campaign against its presence in the country.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer has previously vowed to chase down extremist elements in the Bundeswehr with an “iron broom”.

She said: “Precisely what went on in the course of the party is still being investigated at the moment.

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“But I can already say one thing on the subject at any event: whatever happened is in no way acceptable. Any offences will be prosecuted and harshly punished.”

The defence minister promised to punish those who had known about the alleged illicit party but failed to report it.

A spokesman for the German army said it took the allegations, including “statements of right-wing extremist and antisemitic nature”, very seriously.

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