AUGUST 6, 2012, 10:37 AM
By JUDY DEMPSEY
BERLIN — Is Germany’s police force racist? This is the question after yet another scandal has damaged the credibility of the nation’s police force, an issue explored in today’s Letter from Europe.
The latest scandal concerns two police officers serving in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. They were members of the European White Knights, or E.W.K., which is linked to the extreme right-wing racist group, the Ku Klux Klan.
One of the police officers belongs to the regular police force, the other is a squad commander for a riot-control police unit.
They are still in their jobs because they told their superior officers that when they joined the E.W.K. several years ago, they had been unaware of the intentions of the movement. They left after a few months.
Sebastian Edathy, a federal lawmaker and chairman of a parliamentary committee who is investigating a series of murders of Turks and a policewoman by the extreme right-wing National Socialist Underground, said the two officers should have been dismissed.
“Civil servants who are or were members of a decidedly anti-democratic, extremist organization must be removed from the police force,” he said.
Coincidentally, the two policemen were colleagues of Michele Kiesewetter, the policewoman murdered by the National Socialist Underground.
In another racist incident made public last March, the police union in Bavaria had distributed a calendar depicting caricatures of black people with comments in offensive language.
The police union said it could not understand what the fuss was about.
“People are acting as if there is no such thing as police jargon,” said Hermann Benker who was responsible for distributing the calendar. He said the union had, until now, been producing the calendar for six years. Had anyone complained before? No.