AfD extremist leader in Thuringia charged for using a Nazi slogan

Björn Höcke Facebook
Höcke is also scheduled to lead the party's campaign in Thuringia state election set for Sept. 1.

Björn Höcke is a well-known extremist figure in the German far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. He is the Chief of the AfD parliamentary group in the state parliament of Thuringia and the leader of an internal faction of the party known as Der Flügel (The Wing). This faction represents views marked by xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism, which attracted the attention of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). As a result, the BfV has been monitoring Höcke since the beginning of 2020 and classified him as a right-wing extremist. Therefore, the faction was officially dissolved. However, Höcke’s vast network makes him the most influential politician in the AfD nationwide. He is also scheduled to lead the party’s campaign in a state election set for Sept. 1. 

Hence, it is not surprising that prosecutors have charged him with a second count of uttering a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers at a political event. He is accused of ending a speech in Merseburg in May 2021 with the words “Everything for Germany!” Prosecutors contend that he knew the phrase’s origin as an SA slogan. However, Höcke’s lawyers denied that his words had any “criminal relevance.” 

Now, prosecutors allege that he repeated the offence at an AfD event in Gera, in his home state, on Dec. 12 last year, “in the certain knowledge of the punishability” of the slogan. 

AfD’s branch in Thuringia has a particularly radical reputation. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency considers it as a “proven right-wing extremist” group. Höcke once called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame” and called for Germany to perform a “180-degree turn” in how it remembers its past. A party tribunal at the time rejected a bid to have him expelled. National polls in recent months have shown AfD in second place behind the mainstream conservative opposition, and the party is powerful in the formerly communist east.

Last January, the extremists of the AfD had an instrumental role in the secret meeting of Postdam that discussed a plan to expel German citizens, considered by the party as not enough assimilated to the German culture, to North Africa. The news about the meeting caused an immediate condemnation by Marine Le Pen, leader of AfD’s “brother” party in the Identity and Democracy group.  

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