Twenty-nine police officers have been suspended in Germany for sharing photos of Adolf Hitler and falsifying images of refugees in gas chambers on their cell phones, officials in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.
They are also accused of using far-right chat rooms where extremist content, such as Swastikas and other Nazi symbols, that violates Germany’s constitution was shared.
The incident is embarrassing for German police and security forces, who have been accused of not doing enough to track down potentially violent nationalists in their ranks.
It is a sensitive issue in a country where awareness of the genocide of millions of Jews in World War II by the Nazis under Hitler is strong.
“This is an embarrassment to the NRW police,” said NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul, who announced an investigation against 29 male and female officers.
Some suspects could be charged with spreading Nazi propaganda and hate speech and fired by police. Others are accused of not reporting their colleagues.
“I am shocked and ashamed,” said Frank Richter, chief of police in the city of Essen where most of the suspects worked. “It’s hard to find words.”
German prosecutors said last month they were investigating a retired police officer suspected of sending threatening emails, signed with the name of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, to prominent figures of immigrant background.
The emails, including some sent to lawmakers with a Turkish background, were signed with “NSU 2.0”, a reference to the neo-Nazi gang of the “National Socialist underground,” which between 2000 and 2007 ten people, mostly immigrants.