Ms. Högl, the KSK is being fundamentally reformed following right-wing extremist incidents. The Defense Minister has given the association an ultimatum. You were in Calw for two days in autumn. What did you do there?
I looked at the final exam phase for applicants, which used to be called “Hell Week”. The soldiers are being pushed to their limits. I wasn’t there to have conversations, but to follow along and listen.
What impression did you get there?
When I arrived, 18 of 43 applicants were left. With them I saw how they were put through their paces in real borderline situations.
The character suitability of applicants under stress has always been tested. Did you witness an exam that is new?
There was a very interesting situation after 45 kilometers of night march. The soldiers were totally exhausted. They were only allowed to take a short breath, then they went on to abseil. In this situation, psychologists came and involved the applicants in one-on-one discussions.
What questions did the soldiers have to ask themselves?
Very different: Can climate change even be shaped with democracy? Do people who come to Germany have to give up their religion in order to adapt? Does Germany have to be protected from immigration?
The answers to these questions are difficult even when you are rested.
I agree. And the psychologists say that in a state of complete physical exhaustion they can no longer simply reproduce what they have learned by heart. They get down to business.
How did the applicants fare from your point of view?
With those I have seen, I had the feeling: this can work. They are very special personalities.
This is the second time you have visited the KSK. How is the mood in the association?
The commander has broad support for his efforts to enlighten and reform. Even if his open letter was not only met with approval in the spring. There are a few points about the reforms that not everyone likes. The dissolution of the second company, for example …
… their members are screened by the MAD …
… and around half of them only started their service in the company after the often cited pig’s head party with the Hitler salutes. Of course, they wonder what they have to do with it. The abandonment of their special status is also a sore point for some. That gnaws at the pride.
The interim report on the reforms in the KSK is expected in early November. What do you expect?
I assume that the interim report will not give rise to any questioning about the future of the association. It would also be wrong to dissolve the KSK. We need the special forces. But the association cannot be rebuilt in a few months in such a way that a hook can be made behind the reforms. And the investigation of the past must continue and then be completed quickly. Then we have to enable the special forces command to restart in the future after the reset. With a clear political mandate and a new trust from the client.