German troops sent home from Lithuania after charges of anti-Semitism and racism

German NATO troops in Lithuania as part of a NATO mission accused of hateful behaviour at a hotel party.

Dan Verbin ,

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On Thursday, 30 German soldiers on a NATO mission were sent home from Lithuania after allegations of anti-Semitic and racist remarks and an assault, the Defense Minister and a military spokesperson told Deutsche Welle.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Annegreat Kramp-Karrenbauer released a statement on Twitter.

“The misconduct of some soldiers in Lithuania is a slap in the face of everyone who serves the security in our country every day in the #Bundeswehr. The derailments damage the reputation of the Bundeswehr and Germany. That will be punished with all severity,” she tweeted.

She added that the entire unit was removed from the mission, and that “all necessary investigations” had begun.

The soldiers were part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission that seeks to protect Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from Russia.

According to German news site Der Spiegel, the allegations of inappropriate behaviour stem from a hotel party on April 30.

Soldiers at the party allegedly sang anti-Semitic and racist songs. One soldier attempted to assault another one while he was sleeping. The assault was filmed.

Soldiers also allegedly sung a birthday song for Adolf Hitler.

A military spokesperson stated that the soldiers stand accused of “giving offense with racist and anti-Semitic overtones and showing extremist behavior.”

According to allegations published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper, army commanders had tried to prevent the scandal from becoming public. The behavior at the party was not officially reported until June 8, with the officers in charge of the unit attempting to settle the matter internally.

SZ quoted “top defense ministry officials” admitting that the party was not a “singular event.” The same unit had previously been criticized for anti-Semitic and far right behaviour.