German Court Fines Far-Right Leader for Using Nazi Phrase

By John Mercury May 15, 2024

A German court on Tuesday found a prominent far-right politician from the Alternative for Germany party guilty of using a banned Nazi slogan during a campaign speech in 2021.

A panel of four judges fined the politician, Björn Höcke, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Thuringia, 13,000 euros, roughly $14,000.

The trial, which Mr. Höcke’s defense tried to portray as a battle for free political speech, was watched closely because the AfD stands to make significant electoral gains in state elections this year and because of Mr. Höcke’s well-documented extremist views.

Mr. Höcke seemed to deflate when he heard the verdict.

During the trial, which began last month in the city of Halle, Mr. Höcke admitted to using the phrase “Everything for Germany” but claimed that he had not known about its Nazi origin and compared it to the American slogan “America first.”

But the fact that Mr. Höcke was previously a high school history teacher and that his party has repeatedly run into legal trouble for using the exact same phrase undermined his argument, leading to the court’s ruling.

Using Nazi phrases, gestures, symbols or uniforms is against the law in Germany and is punishable by up to three years in prison. The slogan was used by the S.A. Stormtroopers, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, which engraved it on their standard-issue knives.


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