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Is Germany's Armed Forces Elite A Far-Right Breeding Ground?

DIE WELT (Germany)

Worldcrunch

BERLIN - The elite of the German Federal Armed Forces are sometimes suspected of being a breeding ground for right-wing radicals. So beginning in 2007, the Defense Ministry decided to take a closer look at the political orientation of future officers.

With the results now in of a study of 2,300 students at both the Hamburg and Munich campuses of the University of the German Federal Armed Forces, the reassuring news is that 70% of those polled held middle-of-the-road political views.

But there is some cause for concern: not only did 4% of the future officers have political views that are considerd far right, but another 13% expressed sympathy for so-called New Right views. According to the intelligence community, the New Right seeks to intellectualize right-wing extremism.

Though perhaps not staggering, the numbers of far-right future army officers in Germany in particular cause consternation because of the country's Nazi past.

Thirty-eight percent said they supported the idea that Germany should be led by a strong elite. Twenty-five percent were for halting foreign immigration. Eleven percent were for limiting the powers of parliament. And 44% were for the “hard and energetic” defense of German interests abroad.

The study also found that only about 30% of the students were actually considering a career in the armed forces. The students were critical of the increasing number of stints abroad, and the money, while some had doubts that being in the armed forces was seen as a “recognized and respected occupation.”

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