Germany’s far-right party figure to go on trial for alleged use of Nazi slogan

  • Björn Höcke, a key figure in the far-right Alternative for Germany party, will stand trial in April for allegedly using a Nazi slogan in a 2021 speech.
  • Prosecutors argue Höcke was aware of the slogan’s origins, though his lawyers deny any “criminal relevance.”
  • The court has scheduled four sessions for the trial, spanning until May 14.

One of the most prominent figures in the far-right Alternative for Germany party will go on trial in April on charges related to his alleged use in a 2021 speech of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers, a court said Friday.

Björn Höcke, 51, is the party’s leader in the eastern state of Thuringia and an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany, or AfD. He is set to lead its campaign in a state election set for Sept. 1.

In the case scheduled for trial at the state court in Halle on April 18, Höcke is charged with using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations. He is accused of ending a speech in nearby Merseburg in May 2021 with the words “Everything for Germany!”

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Prosecutors contend he was aware of the origin of the phrase as an SA slogan. They have said Höcke’s lawyers denied that his words had any “criminal relevance.”

Bjoern Hoecke

Far-right politician Björn Höcke speaks at the special plenary session of the Thuringia state parliament in Erfurt, Germany, on Jan. 20, 2021. Höcke will go on trial in April on charges related to his alleged use in a 2021 speech of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers, a court said Friday. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP, File)

The court scheduled four sessions through May 14.

Höcke also faces trial on charges of incitement in a separate case related to a 2022 Telegram post. The court in Muehlhausen, located in his home state, has set no dates yet.

AfD’s branch in Thuringia has a particularly radical reputation and is viewed by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency as a “proven right-wing extremist” group.

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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 particularly strong in the country’s formerly communist east.

In recent weeks, there has been a string of large protests against the far right following a report that extremists met to discuss deporting millions of immigrants, including some with German citizenship, and that some members of AfD were present.