German Defense Minister Claims Government Official Tried To Cover Up G36’s Problems

    Many of our readers have asked how the apparent flaws of the 20-year-old G36 rifle could have remained unknown for so long. The German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen offers an explanation. DW reports:

    German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday confirmed in part an article published by “Spiegel Online,” which reported that a senior ministry official had written a letter to the military intelligence service MAD, asking it to try to find the source of leaks about the G36 assault rifle.

    According to the report, the official wrote the letter on the urging of the manufacturer of the G36, Heckler & Koch, which feared media reports on the assault rifle’s shortcomings could damage its reputation. “Spiegel Online” cited a secret ministry file detailing how the company and the official suggested that the MAD could stop negative media reports about the G36, which has been the Bundeswehr’s main assault rifle.

    It said the idea was for MAD to find the sources of leaks about the G36 while at the same time spying on the journalists behind the critical reports. It described articles published not just by “Spiegel Online, but also by the “taz” newspaper and the weekly “Die Zeit,” beginning in 2012 as an “untrue media campaign.”

    However, the MAD, which among other things is responsible for counterintelligence and detection of “anti-constitutional activities” within the Bundeswehr, turned down the Defense Ministry official’s request, dismissing it as “absurd.”

    Von der Leyen said she found it “very strange” that Heckler & Koch had approached the ministry about the issue and that it was “completely unacceptable” that the civil servant supported the initiative. She said while the official in question had been removed from his post, the fact that that things got as far as they did needed to be “further cleared up.”

    According to “Spiegel Online,” though, the civil servant in question was not fired but merely transferred to another job.


    We’ve been covering the G36 controversy closely, starting with an article back in 2012 when rumors first came up that the rifle had accuracy issues. We subsequently covered the issue, which came to a head last month with the German Defense Minister saying the rifle “had no future with the Bundeswehr”. Those articles are available here, here, here, here, here, and here. We also tested a G36 to see for ourselves if it had any accuracy issues, and we covered H&K’s statements on the controversy (which have subsequently become available in English on their website).

    Just a couple days ago, DW also reported on the G36’s reported illegal sale to Mexican police units considered by the German government to be criminal organizations. We covered that issue as well briefly in early, and then late 2011.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]