Far-right politician stands trial in Germany over alleged use of Nazi slogan

18 April 2024, 09:44

German far-right politician of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) Bjorn Hocke, centre, attends his trial in the state court in Halle, Germany
Germany Far Right. Picture: PA

Bjorn Hocke, 52, is the leader of the regional branch of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the eastern state of Thuringia.

One of the most prominent figures in the far-right Alternative for Germany party has arrived in court for his trial on charges of using a Nazi slogan – months before a regional election in which he is running to become his state’s governor.

Bjorn Hocke, 52, is the leader of the regional branch of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the eastern state of Thuringia.

While never formally a national leader of AfD, the former history teacher has been consistently influential as the 11-year-old party has steadily headed further right and ousted several comparatively moderate leaders.

Protesters hold banners reading ‘Bjorn Hocke is a Nazi’ outside the state court in Halle, Germany
Protesters hold banners reading ‘Bjorn Hocke is a Nazi’ outside the state court in Halle, Germany (Fabrizio Bensch/AP)

At the trial at the state court in Halle, he is charged with using symbols of unconstitutional organisations.

He is also 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 a slogan of the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers.

Using symbols of unconstitutional organisations can carry a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years.

Four court sessions have been scheduled until May 14.

Demonstrators gathered outside the court building before the trial opened, with banners including “Bjorn Hocke is a Nazi” and “Stop AfD”.

Bjorn Hocke, centre left, enters the courtroom for his trial
Bjorn Hocke, centre left, enters the courtroom for his trial (Fabrizio Bensch/AP)

Around 570 protesters turned out, according to police.

Hocke has led AfD’s regional branch in Thuringia since 2013, the year the party was founded, and its group in the state legislature in Erfurt since it first won seats there in 2014.

He 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 in 2018 rejected a bid to have him expelled.

Hocke’s regional branch of AfD is now one of three that the domestic intelligence agency has under official surveillance as a “proven right-wing extremist” group.

AfD is particularly strong in the formerly communist east and is in first place in polls in Thuringia ahead of a state election on September 1, with recent surveys showing support of 29 to 31%.

Germany Far Right
Bjorn Hocke speaks at the special plenary session of the Thuringia state parliament in Erfurt, Germany in 2021 (Michael Reichel/AP)

It is unlikely that any other party will agree to work with Hocke and put him in the governor’s office, but AfD’s strength has made forming governing coalitions in the state complicated.

Hocke insisted in a debate with a conservative rival last week that he wasn’t aware “Everything for Germany!” was a Nazi slogan and claimed that many others have used it.

“Everyone out there knows it’s an everyday saying,” he said on Welt television.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Trump Hush Money

Jury in Trump’s hush money case begin deliberations

Israel Palestinians

Israeli military says it has seized strategic corridor along Gaza-Egypt border

Moldova U.S. Blinken

US pledges £106m in aid to Moldova to counter Russian influence

A volcano spews lava in Grindavik, Iceland

Volcano in Iceland erupts, triggering evacuation of Blue Lagoon geothermal spa

Brazil Floods

Brazil’s president withdraws ambassador to Israel

"Today there was a horrible incident where a person ended up in an airplane engine," a spokesperson said

Person killed after falling into passenger plane engine at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport

Explosion Ohio

Building explosion kills bank employee and injures seven in Ohio

Balloons with rubbish believed to have been sent by North Korea hang on electric wires as South Korean army soldiers stand guard in Muju, South Korea

North Korea flies balloons carrying rubbish over the South

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft of Singapore Airlines parked after the SQ321 London-Singapore flight that encountered severe turbulence, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, near Bangkok, Thailand

Rapid changes in gravitational force ‘led to 178ft altitude drop on plane’

North Korea has been sending balloons of rubbish over the South

North Korea dumps 260 balloons filled with 'excrement' and rubbish on South

EU flags

Police search offices and residence of employee of European Parliament

A Phillips 66 Conoco fuel service station (Alamy/PA)

ConocoPhillips buying Marathon Oil in deal valued at 22.5 billion dollars

A technology expert claims to have found the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Expert claims to have found Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wreckage on Google Maps

Spain Arab Nations

Palestinian PM visits Madrid after Spain recognises Palestinian state

Israeli soldiers drive an APC near the Israeli-Gaza border, as seen from southern Israel

Three soldiers killed in Rafah, says Israeli military

Robert De Niro speaks to reporters in support of President Joe Biden across the street from former president Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York

Biden campaign sends De Niro to Trump trial to put focus on 2021 Capitol attack