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Far-right German politician pleads innocent in Nazi slogan trial

In World
April 23, 2024

A leading member of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party claimed his innocence in court where he is on trial for the use of a banned Nazi slogan.

“I am in fact completely innocent,” the AfD chairman in the state of Thuringia, Björn Höcke, said on Tuesday during the second day of the trial.

Höcke was in a regional court in the eastern city of Halle to face allegations that he knowingly used a banned slogan of the Storm Troopers (SA), the Nazi paramilitary fighting organization, during a speech in 2021.

A controversial figure within the AfD, Höcke is formally charged with using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations by pronouncing the words “Everything for Germany!”

If he had known what the slogan was about, he “certainly wouldn’t have used it,” the former history teacher said on the record.

Höcke, who brought several history books to the courtroom, said that the fact that he studied history does not mean that he must have known about the banned Nazi slogan.

In his statement, Höcke described himself as a “law-abiding citizen.”

The 52-year-old plans to stand as the party’s top candidate in the central state of Thuringia in state elections on September 1. They are one of three elections in eastern German states in September where the AfD is expected to poll highly.

The anti-migration party has been classified as right-wing extremist in the state and is being monitored by the domestic intelligence service, officially known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Four dates are currently scheduled for the trial in Halle until mid-May.

Bjoern Hoecke, chairman of the Thuringian AfD, continues his trial at the regional court. He is accused of using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations. Jens Schlueter/AFP Pool/dpa

Bjoern Hoecke, chairman of the Thuringian AfD, continues his trial at the regional court. He is accused of using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations. Jens Schlueter/AFP Pool/dpa

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