Two German police officers were former members of a Ku Klux Klan spinoff, officials revealed. The scandal broke amid a probe into killings allegedly committed by a neo-Nazi terror cell.
One of the officers serves in Germany’s Bundespolizei. The other is a squad commander for riot police in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. Both were members of the European White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan (EWK), the state’s Interior Ministry confirmed Wednesday.
The EWK operated in Germany between 2000 and 2002, and is estimated to have had 20 members at it peak. The two officers’ membership became known to police in 2003, and both were subject to a police disciplinary probe, German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported. The link was discovered after the search of an EWK leader's apartment.
At the time, the officers claimed that they were unaware of the organization’s white supremacist agenda, and left its ranks after learning the truth. One of the officers said he was oblivious of the EWK’s mission for six months. Both men were allowed to stay on as police officers after the investigation concluded.
The officers’ membership in the KKK-affiliated group came under question again when a possible link was discovered between them and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a separate neo-Nazi terror cell allegedly responsible for the murder of a female police officer, Der Spiegel reported. One of the officers was a direct superior of Michèle Kiesewetter, one of the nine victims alleged to have been murdered by the NSU.
The NSU is suspected of targeting mainly small businessmen of Turkish descent from 2000 to 2007. The NSU’s role in the killings was not discovered until 2011, and the revelation came as a considerable embarrassment to German police forces.
No direct connection between the officers’ EWK membership and the murder of Kiesewetter has been established. There is speculation, however, that the NSU received inside information from police sources.
The presence of KKK-affiliations amongst police officers has sparked a scandal in Germany. "Civil servants who are or were members of a decidedly anti-democratic, extremist organization must be removed from the police force," said Sebastian Edathy, head of a parliamentary investigative committee on the NSU’s crimes.
"Whether there was a connection between their Ku Klux Klan membership and the murder of police officer Michèle Kiesewetter remains to be seen," Edathy said. "But membership in such an organization must be an absolute no-go for employees of German security agencies."