A policeman in the German city of Hanover has been suspended after giving a speech at a demonstration against coronavirus hygiene rules. He urged fellow officers not to show "unconditional obedience" to the government.
Hanover's city police department on Tuesday confirmed that it had relieved a police officer of his duties pending an investigation into a speech in which condemned he the coronavirus regulations.
The man appeared onstage at an event in Dortmund organized by the protest group Querdenken (Lateral Thinking), which has questioned the need for rules such as social distancing and mandatory masks.
In a video published on YouTube, the man is seen introducing himself to the crowd as a detective chief superintendent, before criticizing the coronavirus regulations.
He is also heard urging fellow police officers to follow their own consciences when it came to enforcing the rules, rather than following orders without question. The 57-year-old, who said his father and brother were also police, even drew parallels between life during the pandemic period and the era of Germany under the Nazis.
"In the darkest chapter of our German history, the rulers subjected their security forces to unconditional obedience and abused them for the most horrific crimes ever inflicted on other people," the man said. "My gut tells me things everything is now again going in the same direction," he added.
Separating private and official behavior
According to the local Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, the man had been employed for several years at the police department's central office for technical crime prevention.
A spokesman for the state interior ministry of Lower Saxony reported said police officers that did not abide by rule of law had no place in the police force, the DPA news agency reported.
A spokeswoman for the city police said that, in principle, police officers had a right to express opinions, but that it was important to keep private beliefs and official behavior separate.
The officer would be suspended and the content of his speech would be examined over the next three months, she said.