German Army Lithuania contingent sent home over anti-semitism incident
An entire thirty-member German army unit serving with the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Lithuania is being sent home following allegations of anti-semitic behavior.
Germany's defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said on Wednesday that the 30 personnel would be returned immediately and would faces courts martial.
"The misconduct of some of the soldiers in Lithuania drives a wedge between all those who serve the security of our country day-by-day, in the Bundeswehr," Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote on her social media account.
NATO's eFP Battlegroup in Lithuania is based in Rukla and is German-led, with several other allies' militaries taking part. It is analog to the British-led eFP based at Tapa, along with the two battlegroups in Latvia and Poland, which are Canadian- and U.S.-led respectively.
A spokesperson for the Lithuanian Armed Forces (Lietuvos ginkluotosios pajėgos) had said the previous day that German authorities were investigating the incident, which had involved singing songs which were anti-semitic in nature, while sexual harassment incidents also allegedly may have taken place, though the police are not involved.
German daily Der Spiegel wrote Monday, ERR reports, that the incident may have related to one which took place in April and which had been captured on video, in the town of Rukla, after which a German soldier had already been sent home.
A German government spokesperson confirmed that the unit were being repatriated Thursday, and that investigations in the matter had started the previous week.
During the World War Two Nazi German occupation of Lithuania, close to 200,000 Jews, the vast majority of the country's sizeable pre-war Jewish population, were slaughtered by the occupying forces and their Lithuanian auxiliaries.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte