Germany / Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) / 2 WDB 3.19 / ECLI:DE:BVerwG:2019:091019B2WDB3.19.0




Germany / Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) / 2 WDB 3.19 / ECLI:DE:BVerwG:2019:091019B2WDB3.19.0

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Decision/ruling/judgment date

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Crime type(s) concerned/related

Incitement to violence or hatred Hate speech

Related hate bias motivation

Migrant status Religion

Groups affected

Muslims Refugees & asylum seekers

Court/Body type

National Higher Court


Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht)

Key facts of the case

A soldier had made several racist, antisemitic and anti-Muslim statements in a WhatsApp Group and towards a lieutenant. He had shared, for example, in the WhatsApp group a picture showing a helmet of a Christian crusader with the slogan 'There doesn't need to be a Muslim ban, if there are no Muslims’ and said to the lieutenant that the refugee crisis could be solved by shooting down the refugee boats in the Mediterranean Sea. Thereupon the soldier’s commander took disciplinary action by temporarily suspending the soldier of duty, prohibiting him wearing the uniform and cutting his pay. The military disciplinary court overturned the commander’s order. Against this decision the military disciplinary lawyer of the Federal Armed Fordes (Bundeswehr) opened disciplinary proceedings.

Main reasoning/argumentation

The Federal Administrative Court confirmed the temporary suspension of the soldier's duty as well as the prohibition of wearing the uniform due to the nationalistic, racist and antisemitic content of his statements. The cutting of pay was not confirmed as the Court found it unlikely that the soldier adheres to Nazi ideology.

Is the case related to the application of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, the Racial Equality Directive?

Key issues (concepts, interpretations) clarified by the case

The Federal Administrative Court had to decide whether the soldier's statements did justify disciplinary action against him.

Results (sanctions, outcome) and key consequences or implications of the case

The complaint of the military disciplinary lawyer was partially successful.

Key quotation in original language and translated into English with reference details

"Die Äußerungen sind auch bei Berücksichtigung des Hintergrunds, vor dem sie gefallen sind, ihrem Inhalt nach nationalistisch, rassistisch und antisemitisch; insbesondere die "Unterhaltungskomponente" ändert nichts an dem objektiven Sinn und Gehalt der Äußerungen. "

"The statements are, even when considering the circumstances in which they have been made, of nationalistic, racist and antisemitic content; particularly the "component of entertainment" does not change the objective meaning and content of the statement. "

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