Social media users have spread the false claim that Germany’s armed forces will soon be deployed on the streets.
The misleading rumours suggest that soldiers will be patrolling in front of supermarkets from 1 October to prevent any “disturbances”. Euronews has fact-checked the claims.
The false claims spread online in a number of languages, with one post on Telegram receiving over 150,000 likes. Some even suggested that the army’s deployment could be a “kind of Gestapo,” in reference to the secret police of Nazi-era Germany.
However, while Germany’s army is being restructured on 1 October, it will not be given new or expanded powers. There is no evidence that soldiers will now patrol the streets on a regular basis.
In June, the German Ministry of Defence announced it was creating a new corps to combine the tasks of “territorial management” into one body.
The new authority will not only be responsible for military operations — such as national security or disaster relief — but also for organising NATO allied troops in Germany.
Government officials have stressed that the move has “no intention of increasing armed deployment” on the streets and is not in response to “expected insurgencies”.
“The establishment of the Territorial Command for the Bundeswehr is not intended to increase the deployment of the Bundeswehr in civil protection, nor does it change the legal basis for the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the ‘interior’,” a spokesperson said.
Germany’s constitution, which details when the army can be deployed in the country, also remains unchanged.
According to article 35 of the constitution, soldiers can only be deployed on the ground in the country to help police and “provide assistance in the event of a natural disaster or a particularly serious accident”.
The armed forces can also be deployed in limited circumstances under articles 87a and 91 to “avert an imminent danger to the existence or the free democratic basic order of the Federation”. Any such order can also be cancelled by the German senate (Bundesrat).
Germany says the restructuring of the military into one combined body will help them better prepare for future crises.
During the pandemic, soldiers helped test citizens for the virus at German airports while the armed forces also helped build makeshift bridges following the floods in the Ahr valley in 2021.