Björn Höcke, the leader of the hard-right German party Alternative for Germany (AfD), has been fined on May 14th for using a "Nazi" slogan(Photo by Filip Singer - Pool/Getty Images)

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AfD regional leader fined for using ‘Nazi’ slogan


Björn Höcke, a regional leader of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has been fined for using a “Nazi” slogan.

Höcke was penalised on May 14 for saying, “Everything for Germany!” during a speech in Merseburg in May 2021 . The phrase was employed by Adolf Hitler’s storm troopers.

The 52-year-old politician claimed the decision of the German regional court in the Eastern city of Halle to fine him €13,000 hindered freedom of speech in his country. He has the right to appeal.

“If this verdict stands, free speech will be dead in Germany. The ability to dissent is in jeopardy,” he said.

In Germany, Nazi-related symbols or phrases are banned under criminal law. By using the alleged Nazi slogan, the politician faced the risk of three years in prison and being barred from public office as well as a fine.

“I am charged with the crime of using an alleged quote in which I expressed my patriotism incorrectly,” Höcke said in a public statement on April 6th.

“Germany is at the forefront of persecuting political opponents and suppressing free speech,” he added.

During his trial, he claimed he was unaware that the slogan was used by the Nazis. The judge noted that Höcke was “an articulate, intelligent man who knows what he is saying”, according to one German news agency.

Höcke has led the AfD’s regional branch in Thuringia since 2013, the year the party was founded, and is due to head its campaign in the state election set for September 1. The party currently polls at 30 per cent.

The verdict follows a number of scandals impacting the AfD.

Petr Bystron, a German Bundestag AfD MP and second on the list for the EP elections in June, has been accused of accepting bribes from Russia, accusations he denies. AfD MEP Maximilian Krah’s former parliamentary assistant has been arrested following allegations of spying for China. He has also denied the accusations.

For some in Germany, the party constitutes a political danger. As reported by Brussels Signal on May 14, senior German Christian Democrat MP Marco Wanderwitz says he will propose a complete ban on the AfD.

“The AfD’s large core electorate wants a different country, one that no longer has anything to do with the free, democratic basic order of our Basic Law [Constitution],” he said.