Björn Höcke, AfD Leader in Thuringia, Faces Trial for Using Banned Nazi Slogan

Prominent far-right German politician Björn Höcke faces trial for using banned Nazi slogan, highlighting country's struggle with far-right ideology and implications for his party, the AfD.

Wojciech Zylm
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Björn Höcke, AfD Leader in Thuringia, Faces Trial for Using Banned Nazi Slogan

Björn Höcke, AfD Leader in Thuringia, Faces Trial for Using Banned Nazi Slogan

Björn Höcke, the leader of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the German state of Thuringia, is set to stand trial in Halle in 2024 for using the banned Nazi SA slogan "Alles für Deutschland" (All for Germany) during a pre-election speech in 2021.

Höcke, a former history teacher, is accused of using symbols of unconstitutional groups, including the NSDAP, which is a criminal offense in Germany.

The prosecution alleges that Höcke was aware of the slogan's origins and meaning, despite claiming ignorance of the prohibition. If convicted, Höcke could face a fine or imprisonment of up to three years, as well as potentially losing his active and passive voting rights.

The trial, which is the first of two cases against Höcke, with another pending for alleged incitement of the masses, is marked by delays and legal wrangling, with his lawyers making various motions to dismiss or delay the proceedings.

Why this matters: The trial of Björn Höcke, a prominent far-right politician in Germany, highlights the country's ongoing struggle to confront its Nazi past and the rise of far-right ideology in contemporary politics. The case also has significant implications for the AfD party, which is currently leading in opinion polls ahead of the state elections in Thuringia, despite facing a series of scandals.

Experts view Höcke's use of the banned slogan as part of a broader strategy by the AfD to normalize far-right ideology through self-trivialization and cultural subversion. Similar cases have been brought before courts, such as a 16-year-old using the same SA slogan and a man wearing a jacket with the SS slogan "Meine Ehre heißt Treue" (My Honor is Loyalty).

The trial is taking place in a high-security courtroom, and protests are expected outside the courthouse. Höcke's political future hangs in the balance, as a conviction could potentially end his career and complicate the AfD's prospects in the upcoming state elections. The party has faced a series of scandals, including allegations of senior members spreading pro-Russian content for money.

Key Takeaways

  • Björn Höcke, AfD leader in Thuringia, to stand trial in 2024 for using banned Nazi slogan.
  • Höcke accused of using symbols of unconstitutional groups, a criminal offense in Germany.
  • Trial highlights Germany's struggle to confront Nazi past and rise of far-right ideology.
  • Höcke's use of slogan seen as part of AfD's strategy to normalize far-right views.
  • Conviction could end Höcke's political career and complicate AfD's prospects in state elections.