Prominent German far-Right politician fined for using Nazi slogan in speech

Björn Höcke
Björn Höcke was convicted of using the banned phrase 'everything for Germany', a Nazi slogan - Sean Gallup/Getty

A top figure in Germany’s far-Right party AfD has been convicted of using a Nazi slogan during a speech and fined €13,000 (£11,000).

Björn Höcke, the 52-year-old AfD leader in the eastern state of Thuringia, was convicted on Tuesday by a regional court in Halle, central Germany.

Mr Höcke was convicted of using “unconstitutional symbols”, in particular for ending a speech in 2021 with the banned phrase “everything for Germany”, a Nazi slogan.

Prosecutors had argued that Höcke was fully aware that the expression was used by Adolf Hitler’s SA [stormtrooper] thugs, who unleashed brutal violence on Germany’s streets in the early days of the Third Reich.

Höcke’s defence had argued that he was unaware of the historical context of the slogan and claimed that others in Germany have used it before.

Responding to the verdict, Höcke told the court: “My impression is that you didn’t have the blindfold of justice on your eyes today, Mr Public Prosecutor... you were not looking for moments of exoneration.”

He was then reprimanded by a judge who told him not to turn the court proceedings into a campaign speech, Spiegel magazine reported.

Anti-Höcke protesters outside the regional court in Halle
Anti-Höcke protesters outside the regional court in Halle - dts/Shutterstock

The conviction is a blow to the AfD as it gears up for key elections in June where it could significantly increase its share of seats in the European parliament.

The anti-immigrant, populist AfD has made huge gains in the polls in recent years and is consistently projected to emerge as Germany’s second largest party, behind the centre-Right CDU, in the next general election.

However, its polling slipped by a few percentage points this year after it emerged that senior AfD members had attended a secretive meeting at a mansion near Berlin with neo-Nazis and other extremists, to discuss the mass deportation of immigrants.

Höcke has previously caused outrage in Germany by describing the Berlin holocaust memorial as a “monument of shame” and has also called for the country to do “a 180-degree turn” in terms of remembering its past.

He is one of the most influential members of the AfD, having steered it ever further to the right since it was founded in 2013.

Earlier this year, the party’s leadership endorsed a potential exit from the European Union, or “Dexit”, in an interview with the Financial Times.