BERLIN — The German Defense Ministry said Monday an army instructor’s order to a soldier to imagine being accosted by blacks in New York’s Bronx borough while firing a machine gun was “absolutely unacceptable.”
A video of the incident, which the army said it is investigating, aired on German television Saturday and prompted calls for an apology by the Bronx borough president.
Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe condemned the episode, but said he believed it was an isolated case.
“This behavior is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts the training standards of the German army,” he said at a news conference.
“We have a success story for more than fifty years in our German army and it is really seldom that something like that happens. I think it is not a special German problem,” he later told AP Television News.
The German army, or Bundeswehr, was founded in West Germany in 1955, more than 10 years after the collapse of the Nazi government at the end of World War II.
Raabe said the army would likely complete its investigation into the video, which initially appeared on the Internet, in two to four weeks.
The clip shows an instructor and a soldier dressed in camouflage in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier, “You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways. ... Act.”
The soldier fires his machine gun and yells an obscenity several times in English. The instructor then tells the soldier to curse even louder.
The video has vanished from the German myvideo.de Web site but has since appeared on Youtube.com.
The Defense Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army had been aware of it since January. Raabe said a soldier had given a superior a CD with the video on it.
In New York, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. has demanded an apology and called for whoever was responsible to be disciplined.
“The German government obviously has work to do to correct something that is insidious. ... Clearly these folks don’t know anything about African-Americans or the Bronx,” he said Saturday.
The video follows two other incidents that raised concerns about training in the Germany army, which is made up largely of draftees and is increasingly called on to carry out sensitive overseas peacekeeping missions.
A group of army instructors are currently on trial for allegedly abusing and humiliating recruits in 2004. Last year, newspapers published photos of German soldiers in Afghanistan posing with skulls — including one who exposed himself.
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