Björn Höcke (Shutterstock)


A German court has fined Björn Höcke €16,900 for chanting a Nazi-associated phrase in public.


By Andrew Lapin, JTA

A German court has fined a prominent far-right leader for once again using a phrase associated with the Nazis, as Germany’s growing far-right flank shows an increasing comfort with invoking Nazi-aligned phrases and ideas.

Björn Höcke, a leader of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, was ordered to pay €16,900 (roughly $18,000) for chanting the first two words of the slogan “Everything For Germany,” or Alles für Deutschland,” in front of a pub crowd in December, and goading the crowd to finish it.

It was the second time in a few short months that Höcke, the party leader of the state of Thuringia in what was once East Germany, had been fined for using the phrase. In May, judges fined him around $13,000 for an earlier use of the phrase in 2021. Nazi stormtroopers had engraved the phrase “Everything for Germany” on their daggers.

AfD gained seats in the recent elections for the European Parliament, alarming local Jewish leaders.

During his first trial, Höcke, a former history teacher with a track record of promoting historical revisionism around the Nazi regime, had claimed he was unfamiliar with the origins of the phrase, which the court doubted. The second time, the judge said, Höcke appeared to display no remorse and even showed some glee over getting the crowd to finish the phrase for him.

In court, he has questioned the anti-Nazi laws that were instituted in Germany in order to prevent a resurgence of the ideology after the Holocaust, stating, “Do we want to ban the German language because the Nazis spoke German?”

Höcke was first elected in 2013, and has become a lightning-rod figure in Germany as his ideas — and his party — have become ascendant. The provocateur once faced expulsion from the AfD after calling the Berlin Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame” in 2017, an incident that led an artist to place a replica of the monument outside of Höcke’s home. He also faced accusations from a German sociologist that he had authored articles for a neo-Nazi website under a pseudonym, and subsequently refused to declare that the pen name wasn’t his.

But Höcke loyalists soon rose to key leadership roles within the AfD, ensuring that the populist party — which has been winning elections nationwide — would continue to back him going forward. A German court has ruled that calling Höcke a fascist is not defamatory but a “value judgment based on facts.”

Germany is not the only European country dealing with Nazi links to contemporary politics. A member of France’s far-right coalition party this week withdrew from her race prior to the upcoming second round of National Assembly elections after her opponent circulated a photo of her wearing a Nazi hat. Her party had enjoyed a healthy first-round showing in the vote. The anti-immigration right is gaining ground across the continent, including in recent elections for the European Parliament and in the Netherlands.

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