"These are unacceptable, sometimes sickening events, but they have nothing to do with the armed forces as a whole," he told foreign reporters. He called the incidents regrettable but said there was "no sign of infiltration" of the military by organised neo-Nazis.
A parliamentary panel last week launched an inquiry into rightist extremism in the army after a magazine report forced the military to admit that the convicted neo-Nazi terrorist Manfred Roeder gave a speech at the military's main academy in Hamburg in 1995. The academy even put up Roeder for the night, Volker Ruehe, the defence minister, said yesterday.
Focus news magazine reported over the weekend that German peace-keepers in Croatia shouted "Heil Hitler" during a party last year. The defence ministry said it is investigating.
Mr Kohl said the cases were part of a wider problem of extremism in German society. He said he needed no "remedial lessons" in combating it. "But I can tell our European neighbours we will fight everything that harkens back to past times," he said.
Mr Kohl reaffirmed his confidence in Mr Ruehe, a popular politician whose job is in jeopardy in the wake of the revelations.
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