A video of a German army instructor telling soldiers to shoot and yell obscenities while thinking of African-Americans aired on German national television this weekend. The instructor who is seen ordering a soldier to envision himself in New York City facing hostile blacks while firing his machine gun is still on duty, a spokesman for the army said today.
German Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said Monday that the army was investigating the incident. "This behavior is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts the training standards of the German army," Raabe said at a press conference, where he emphasized that the incident was an "isolated case."
The incident is the latest in a series of incidents which has marred the German Army's reputation. As well as the skull incident in Afghanistan, four former army instructors who allegedly abused recruits in 2004 are currently being prosecuted in an on-going court case. And two former commanders of German special forces were recently criticized for praising a World War II Nazi commando unit as an inspiration for Germany's modern-day elite soldiers.
The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and other groups.
Blacks, including African Americans, were also imprisoned or sent to internment or concentration camps. There, they were often treated more harshly and subjected to medical experiments or extreme brutality. The SS and Gestapo commonly mistreated Black prisoners of war, working them to death in concentration camps or killing them immediately rather than imprisoning them.
The following little ditty is from The Independent (UK).
German army 'depicted blacks as target practice'
By Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin
A German army instructor has been shown on television ordering a soldier to fire his machine gun while imagining he was in the Bronx facing hostile African Americans.
In New York, the Bronx borough president demanded an apology from the German military and said the clip on German television "indicates that bias and assumptions and racism is alive and well around the world".
Coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, the video seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany's conscript army.
The Defence Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army had been aware of it since January.
"We are currently investigating the incident," an army spokesman said.
The clip shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier: "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother ... act."
The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English.
The Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrion Jnr, said whoever was responsible for the video should be disciplined. "We need to put to rest the prejudices and the hate that is allowed ... to be perpetuated so easily and cheaply," Mr Carrion said.
The Rev Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, said he was outraged that Germans were "depicting blacks as target practice".
"I think this is an incredibly racist kind of insult to African Americans and it speaks to the kind of institutional racism that people think we are hallucinating about," he said.