Authorities said on Thursday they were investigating Rudolf Müller, a top candidate from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), after journalists reported that his antique store in Saarbrücken contained items that possibly violated German law.
Both the magazine "Stern" and public broadcaster ARD reported that Müller's shop had sold them money from concentration camps and medals with swastikas on them dating back to the World War II era.
"Stern" was the first to report the story after it sent an undercover journalist to the store; ARD followed suit after employing a similar tactic with one of its own journalists. The magazine's questions to Müller went unanswered, though the candidate later told ARD that he wasn't aware that his sale of the memorabilia was possibly illegal.
Germany bans the use of symbols that violate the country's constitution, including swastikas. Exceptions are made for artistic and educational use to document the Nazi era.
'Resurgence of the right'
Müller told the Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper that he didn't believe he'd done anything against the law.
AfD has been accused of anti-Semitism and stoking anti-migrant sentiments over the past year. The party has also gained considerable traction in recent elections, and now has members in ten of the country's 16 state parliaments.
On Sunday, it won just over 14 percent of the vote in the Berlin election, entering the state's 149-seat assembly. A day before the election, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller warned that an AfD victory would be "seen throughout the world as a sign of the resurgence of the right and of Nazis in Germany."
After the Berlin vote, AfD co-chairwoman Frauke Petry called reporters' questions about the party's alleged anti-Semitism "outrageous" and "insinuations."
blc/kl (dpa, AFP, AP)