German authorities are investigating allegations that soldiers in the country’s most elite honor guard shouted neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic slogans on a bus near here.
Reporting an incident that took place in mid-May, eyewitnesses said that seven soldiers who were apparently drunk began shouting anti-Semitic and xenophobic slogans on a bus on their way back to their barracks near Bonn.
The witnesses said the soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes for an evening out, shouted “Jews should be gassed” and “foreigners out.”
The police are also investigating claims that the soldiers physically attacked one passenger who tried to quiet them down. When the soldiers got out of hand, the bus driver reportedly closed the doors to the bus and called the police, who held five soldiers for questioning.
Two of the soldiers got out of the bus before the police arrived, but they, too, were later brought in for questioning. The soldiers were members of Germany’s most prestigious honor guard, which greets foreign heads of state.
A spokesman for prosecutors in Bonn announced that charges would be pressed against one soldier at least, and that the investigation would continue regarding the other six.
A military spokesman said that although the matter was now in the hands of the police and the state prosecution, the army would “take all the necessary disciplinary measures.”
Such incidents, said the spokesman, were not representative of the German armed forces.
The incident brought swift criticism from Germany’s minister of defense, Volker Ruhe.
“This will have consequences and must relentlessly be cleared up,” he told German Radio.
He said there was “no place in our military for radicals, either on the left or the right.”
The incident took place less than two weeks after scores of neo-Nazis rampaged through the eastern German town of Magdeburg, attacking blacks and damaging property owned by Turks.
The attack set off a wave of protests throughout Germany, with strong criticism leveled at the Magdeburg police force for having failed to cope with the situation.