It has just been discovered that two commanders of the Czech military working under NATO command used Nazi symbols on their helmets during their deployment in Afghanistan.
The story was made public after Czech police serving in Afghanistan reported the case, the Russia Today website reported on Tuesday.
According to the daily Mlada fronta Dnes, the soldiers, identified as Hynek Matonoha and Jan Cermak, wore the symbols of the 9th SS panzer division Hohenstaufen and the SS Dirlewanger brigade respectively, which were probably the most infamous SS combat units of World War II.
Unaware of their sordid actions, Czech Defense Minister Martin Bartak decorated the soldiers for bravery on Friday after their return from Afghanistan.
Later, the minister said that at the time, he had not yet learned about the helmet controversy, which has caused quite a stir among the country's armed forces.
A specialist in extremism, Michal Mazel, has rejected the excuse given by one of the men, who said that he had unintentionally used the symbols.
“He is an elite troop who graduated from university, he is no teenager. The SS symbols on their helmets show a totally perverse view of the world of the NATO military's elite troop,” Russia Today quoted Mazel as saying.
Anti-violence activists say the case with the soldiers is nothing new for the Czech Republic.
“There were several attacks on Roma and other communities in recent years, and these problems in our army, of course, shocked all Czech people,” said Ivona Novomestska, spokesperson for an anti-violence movement.
Petr Prochazka, the commander of the Czech contingent in Afghanistan's Logar province, had ordered that any photographs showing the controversial helmet covers be burnt.
After the facts came out, the commanders were immediately suspended, and they will be facing disciplinary action for their conduct.
Click to view image: 'Two NATO commanders wore Nazi regalia in Afghanist'
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