The head of the German military's special forces unit was dismissed Tuesday after he praised a recent speech by a politician who argued that if Germans were a "race of perpetrators" because of the Holocaust, so too were Jews for what he alleged was their role in the terror of the Russian revolution.
"This is about a lone, confused general who agreed with an even more confused statement made by a conservative member of Parliament," Defense Minister Peter Struck said at a news conference announcing the immediate dismissal of Gen. Reinhard Guenzel, whose forces recently ended a deployment in Afghanistan, where they fought alongside U.S. troops.
There was no immediate comment from Guenzel, who had written to the politician, saying he was "speaking for the soul of the majority of our people."
About 1,000 soldiers serve in Germany's Kommando Spezialkraefte. The elite unit's deployment to Afghanistan was the German military's most far-flung combat mission since World War II.
In an Oct. 3 speech to constituents marking German reunification, Martin Hohmann, a member of Parliament for the opposition Christian Democratic Union, claimed that Jews formed a large part of the Bolshevik leadership in the 1917 revolution, as well as the Communists' execution squads.
"With regard to the millions of dead from the first phase of the revolution, one is considerably justified in looking at the Jews as a race of perpetrators," Hohmann, 55, told a group in the western town of Neuhof.
He said that the point was not to blame Germans for Nazi crimes or Jews for those of the Bolsheviks, but rather "the godless with their godless ideologies."
Anti-Semitic remarks are illegal in Germany.
On the German public TV station ZDF, Hohmann read a letter from Guenzel, 59, praising Hohmann for "an excellent speech, of a courage, truth and clarity which one seldom hears or reads in our country."