Rightwing Military Officers

MUNICH/BERLIN (Own report) - Already 14 years ago, a high-ranking officer of the German Bundeswehr maintained ties with the most important rightwing extremist think tank in Germany. In early 2003, Erich Vad, colonel at the time, appeared as speaker at the "Institute for State Policy" (IfS) that is entertaining good relations with graduates of the Bundeswehr University in Munich, as well as to the trendy right-wing extremist "identitarian" movement. In 2003, Vad criticized in the institute's journal, the "paralysis of a post-bourgeois political class" in Germany, "whose world view primarily draws on re-education, on the sclerotic rituals of dealing with the [Nazi] past and the 1968 mythology." While Vad moved up to become Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief military policy advisor, the "IfS" has been seeking to intensify its relations with students at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. According to a study, 13 percent of the students at that university feel a political affinity with the "New Right." A First Lieutenant among the soldiers affiliated with the Institute, is today demonstrating in the "identitarian" movement, alongside neo-Nazis. The officer had last served in the mechanized infantry battalion in Oberviechtach. Today, that battalion comprises the largest segment of the German contingent in Lithuania's Rukla.

13 Percent

A study compiled in 2008 by the Institute of Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr - but kept under lock and key for two years - reveals the spread of right-wing extremist positions among students at the Bundeswehr's Universities in Munich and Hamburg. The study, based on a survey of 2,300 students at both universities, notes that nearly 70 percent feel politically close to the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and CSU (Christian Social Union Party of Bavaria).[1] The fact that "only" four percent prefer extreme-right wing parties such as the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) "is a very positive sign," the authors evaluate. The four percent extrapolated to the entire Bundeswehr, would give a number of 7,200 soldiers, who feel close to the extreme right. The study also notes that 13 percent - one out of eight - has significant sympathies for the "New Right." If this result is representative for the Bundeswehr, as a whole, it would mean that 23,000 soldiers affiliate with this extreme right tendency. According to the study two years ago, 38 percent of the academics in the military openly stated that Germany should be led again by "a strong elite;" 25 percent wanted to halt immigration to Germany and eleven percent were in favor of restricting the power of the parliament.[2] In the spring 2010, Reinhold Robbe (SPD), Parliamentary Armed Forces Ombudsman, at the time, demanded that this study be taken "very seriously."

National Socialism Trailblazer

Rightwing extremists' conspicuous efforts to gain influence at the Bundeswehr University in Munich can be dated back to 2011. At the time, the IfS, considered the "New Right's" most important think tank, ran an advertisement in the University of Munich's student magazine "Campus." This was possible because 3 of the magazine's editors ("the Campus Three," german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) were politically active in the entourage of the IfS. The advertisement offered free samples of publications of the institute - which is openly oriented toward the anti-democratic "conservative revolutionary movement" of the 1920s and 30s. Historians consider this movement, with its elements of open anti-Semitism, to be a trailblazer for National Socialism. How many Bundeswehr soldiers accepted the offer in the "Campus" advertisement, and how many new activists were recruited by the institute is unknown. In any case - with its 13 percent of the Bundeswehr's students expressing sympathies for the New Right - the targeted group is comparably large.

At the Neo-Nazi's Side

Since the end of last week, it has become known that one of the 2011 ultra-right-wing "Campus" editors had recently been active in the "identitarian" movement. The "identitarians" are a trendy movement on the extreme right, with close IfS ties. Over the past few months, they have been making headlines with public actions - including those targeting refugees. Last Friday, "identitarian" activists tried to storm Germany's Ministry of Justice in Berlin. 1LT Felix Springer, one of the "Campus Three" has participated in identitarian public rallies, for example, a demonstration in early January 2016 in the Bavarian town of Freilassing. On a photo available on the IfS website, Springer, one of the web portal's authors, can be seen in the above-mentioned "identitarian" demonstration, speaking to one of the board members of Regensburg's AfD. Also on the photo, demonstrating alongside the two, is a former activist of the "Freies Netz Süd" (Southern Free Network) an outlawed neo-Nazi fraternal order. This incident has been publicly known since April 1, 2016, the date the web portal "Regensburg Digital" published its report.[4]

The Chancellor's Military Advisor

The example of Erich Vad, demonstrates that influential officers have already maintained contact to the IfS years ago. In 2001, Col. Vad assumed the position of a military political advisor to the CDU/CSU Bundestag Group, after he had served in the Bundeswehr, in the Foreign Ministry and in the Ministry of Defense. In 2006, he was named Department Director for Military Policy in the Chancellery, where, in 2007, he was named director of Group 22, responsible for coordinating activities between the Ministry of Defense and the Federal Security Council. This is considered the key military policy position in the Chancellery.[5] Vad's career in the immediate proximity of the Chancellor has not been hampered by the fact that he had been a featured speaker at IfS' Third Winter Academy in February 2003. At the time, Vad had been a lecturer alongside Ret. Col. Klaus Hammel and Götz Kubitschek, founder and mastermind behind the institute. This was a year and a half, after Kubitschek - promoted to 1LT of the Reserves - had been officially retired from the Bundeswehr under suspicion of "right-wing extremist aspirations."

The Nazi State's Crown Jurist

Following the "Winter Academy," Vad published an article in the first edition of the institute's journal, "Sezession," in whose online edition several Bundeswehr officers have since published, including the "identitarian" 1LT Felix Springer. In his article, Vad made positive references to Carl Schmitt, a constitutional and governmental law expert, who, because of his close ties to the Nazis, is occasionally referred to as the "Nazi's crown jurist." As he formulated in his article, recently "the paralysis of the post-bourgeois political class" has repeatedly manifested itself in Germany, with "a world view primarily drawing on re-education, on the sclerotic rituals of dealing with the [Nazi] past and the 1968 mythology."[6] "These intellectual aberrations need an antidote," wrote Col. Vad, at the time, "and the political philosophy of Carl Schmitt could be available," because, this stands in "opposition to idealistic utopias of a global expansion of human rights, a peaceful balance of cultures and civilizations, along with generous, open and multicultural societies."

Promoted to Brigadier-General

Vad - having, in the meantime, moved up to become Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief military policy advisor - was promoted to brigadier-general in 2010. He retired in April 2013. Vad, who once studied at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, is today listed as a lecturer at the Chair of International Relations at the Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science (GSI) at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich.

[1], [2] Freia Peters: Weltbild deutscher Soldaten "nicht unproblematisch". www.welt.de 15.09.2012.
[3] See Restricted Democracy and Weniger Demokratie wagen (II).
[4] Stefan Aigner: AfD Regensburg: Rechte Aufmärsche sind "Privatangelegenheit". www.regensburg-digital.de 01.04.2016.
[5] See Der Militärberater der Kanzlerin.
[6] Erich Vad: Freund oder Feind. Zur Aktualität Carl Schmitts. Sezession 1, April 2003.