World

German far-right politician to go on trial for alleged use of a Nazi slogan

Bjorn Hocke is an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany party.

Bjoern Hoecke will go on trial in April 2024 on charges related to his alleged use in a 2021 speech of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP, File)
Germany Far Right Bjoern Hoecke will go on trial in April 2024 on charges related to his alleged use in a 2021 speech of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP, File) (Michael Reichel/AP)

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 of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers in a 2021 speech, a court said on Friday.

Bjorn Hocke, 51, is the party’s leader in the eastern state of Thuringia and is 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 September 1.

In the case scheduled for trial at the state court in Halle on April 18, Hocke is charged with using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organisations.

He is accused of ending a speech in nearby Merseburg in May 2021 with the words “Everything for Germany!”

Prosecutors contend he was aware of the origin of the phrase as an SA slogan.

People gather as they protest against the AfD party and right-wing extremism (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Germany Far Right People gather as they protest against the AfD party and right-wing extremism (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Michael Probst/AP)

They have said Hocke’s lawyers denied that his words had any “criminal relevance”. The court scheduled four sessions through May 14.

Hocke 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.

Hocke 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.

The party is particularly strong in the country’s formerly communist east.

In recent weeks, there has been a string of 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.