29 police in Germany have been suspended for sharing images including Swastikas, gas chambers

Foto: David Young/dpa. (Quelle: dpa)

Twenty-nine police officers in Germany have been suspended for sharing neo-Nazi imagery and pictures of Adolf Hitler on far-right chatrooms.

According to officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the officers were allegedly using chatrooms and WhatsApp groups to share extremist content, including Swastikas and doctored images of refugees in gas chambers.

Most of the officers working in the city of Essen are said to have shared more than 100 neo-Nazi images. The findings come after 34 police stations and private homes linked were raided.

"This is a disgrace for the NRW police," the state's interior minister, Herbert Reul, said on Wednesday.

"This is the worst and most repulsive kind of hate-baiting... Right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis have absolutely no place in the North Rhine-Westphalia police, our police," he added.

Reul also said he launched an investigation into the extent of extremism among state police departments, adding that authorities had to show a "crystal clear political profile" that rejected the far-right.

Some of the officers face charges of spreading Nazi propaganda and hate speech, while others are accused of not reporting their colleagues' actions.

"I'm appalled and ashamed," said Frank Richter, who is the chief of police at the force where most of the suspects worked, according to Reuters."It is hard to find words." 

German police have previously faced accusations of not doing enough to weed out potentially violent nationalists in their ranks. 

In July, a retired police officer from Hamburg was arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to Turkish lawmakers.

The officer allegedly signed the emails off with the name "NSU 2.0" — a reference to a neo-Nazi gang, which committed ten racist murders between 2000 and 2007.

Displaying images of Swastikas or other SS sig runes is illegal in Germany and considered "symbols of anti-constitutional organisations," according to Deutsche Welle.

The Nazi salute and statements such as "Heil Hitler" are also banned in public.