In Germany, Björn Höcke, a far-right leader, fined 13,000 euros for using a Nazi slogan

On Tuesday May 14, German justice sentenced Björn Höcke, one of the most radical figures of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, to a fine of 13,000 euros for using a Nazi slogan

In Germany, Björn Höcke, a far-right leader, fined 13,000 euros for using a Nazi slogan

On Tuesday May 14, German justice sentenced Björn Höcke, one of the most radical figures of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, to a fine of 13,000 euros for using a Nazi slogan. The prosecution had requested a six-month suspended prison sentence against Mr. Höcke, tried in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt) for having deliberately used the National Socialist slogan “Alles für Deutschland” (“all for Germany”) during a electoral meeting in Merseburg, in the same Land, in 2021.

“All for Germany” was a motto used by the SA, the paramilitary formation of the Nazi Party which played an essential role in Adolf Hitler’s conquest of power. In Germany, the law strictly prohibits the use of Nazi slogans or the exhibition of symbols of the Third Reich.

A former high school history teacher, Björn Höcke, 52, currently leader of the AfD in Thuringia, in the east of the country, said he was unaware that this phrase was a Nazi slogan. The prosecution had also requested that Mr. Höcke pay 10,000 euros to a public utility organization. The leader's claims to deny his knowledge of the Nazi nature of this are “neither credible nor understandable,” said Halle prosecutor Benedikt Bernzen.

Mr Höcke should also have been tried on a second charge after shouting “All for…” and inciting the audience to respond “Germany” at an AfD meeting in Thuringia in December. The court nevertheless decided to separate the proceedings because the defense had not had sufficient time to prepare.

Mr Höcke faced up to three years in prison, but Judge Jan Stengel had indicated at the start of the trial that a fine would be a sanction considered appropriate by the court if he was found guilty.

One of the most controversial personalities of the AFD

The trial comes at a time when Alternative für Deutschland is facing several scandals that are eroding its popularity ahead of the June 9 European elections. Created in 2013, this populist and anti-migrant party had the wind in its sails in the polls until the beginning of the year and hoped to triumph in this election as well as in three regional elections in September in the east of the country, considered its stronghold .

But in mid-January, the participation, revealed by the media, of certain members of the AfD in a meeting of the ultra-right to discuss a plan for the mass expulsion of foreign people or people of foreign origin from Germany shocked the country. Then in April, an investigation was opened for suspicion of Russian and Chinese financing against his head of list in the European election.

Considered an extremist by German intelligence services, Mr. Höcke is one of the AfD’s most controversial figures. In the past, he has called the Holocaust monument in Berlin a “memorial of shame” and called for a “180-degree change” in the culture of remembrance in the country.

Due to extreme positions, the Thuringian AfD, like that of Saxony-Anhalt, was placed under “systematic surveillance” by regional intelligence services. On Monday, the court in Münster (North Rhine-Westphalia) authorized the intelligence service to maintain surveillance over the entire formation, thus rejecting a request from the AfD against its classification as an "extremism suspect ".