Sunday 15 September 2019

Germany could put troops on the streets for first time since Second World War

Wolfgang Schauble
Wolfgang Schauble

Justin Huggler and Henry Samuel

Germany could deploy armed soldiers on its streets for the first time since World War II, as Europe went into lockdown in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The German proposals would be highly controversial in a country that remains deeply reluctant to use its armed forces because of its Nazi past.

Ministers raised the idea after Tuesday night's friendly football match between Germany and Holland in Hanover was cancelled minutes before kick-off following a tip-off from intelligence in another EU state.

According to German media,  a group of attackers had planned to set off multiple explosives at the stadium, where Angela Merkel was due to attend the match, and to detonate a bomb in the city centre.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance minister, has publicly called for the military to be used in the event of co-ordinated terror attacks on a German city.

"If we had a situation like Paris, perhaps with attacks in three of four places, we'd have to think about whether our police capabilities are enough," Mr Schaeuble told the 'Rheinische Post' newspaper. "What can we do to support security forces that are already overwhelmed on some normal weekends in the face of great challenges?"

The minister's comments have reopened the debate over the military's role in modern Germany, where much of the public remains deeply sensitive to the idea of soldiers on the streets.

Under the constitution, the armed forces can be deployed in a crisis, but until now they have only been used to help with relief after natural disasters. Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, said the police were "vigilant and well-prepared" and he saw "no need" for the military to become involved.

"I don't think this would help at the moment," said Holger Munch, the federal police chief. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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