1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German court fines AfD's Höcke over 2nd use of Nazi slogan

July 1, 2024

A court has fined the far-right Alternative for Germany politician Björn Höcke — for a second time in two months — over his use of a Nazi slogan at a political rally.

Björn Höcke, chairman of the Thuringian AfD
The public prosecutor's office had accused Höcke of knowingly using the phrase on both occasionsImage: endrik Schmidt/dpa/picture alliance

A regional court in the eastern German city of Halle on Monday sentenced Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician Björn Höcke to a fine for repeated his use of a Nazi-era phrase.

The court ruled that Höcke, 52, must pay 130 daily rates of €130 ($140) each — totaling €16,900.

What was the case about?

Prosecutors alleged that Höcke had been testing the boundaries when he uttered the first two words of the slogan "Everything for Germany" and goaded the crowd to complete it.

The saying was a slogan of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA), or stormtroopers, who played a major role when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party came to power in 1933. In this early phase, the SA terrorized Germany, killing, torturing, and intimidating mainly communists and Jews.

Höcke had argued in his first trial that he was not aware the SA had used the phrase, which did not convince the judges.

In the latest case, the prosecution said Höcke's second use was "in certain knowledge" of the slogan's provenance, given that he was already in legal trouble for using it by the time of his 2023 appearance in Gera. 

Höcke contested that he had not expected the crowd to finish the slogan. 

But in his ruling on Monday, Judge Jan Stengel said a video of the speech, in the Thüringian city of Gera, showed Höcke displaying "no reticent reaction — rather miming approval" as the crowd completed the phrase.

DW spoke to Höcke during the AfD's party conference at the weekend about his first conviction, with the second verdict looming, and he argued that the phrase was a common one often used since 1945 by an array of public figures.

"I voiced an everyday sentence that has been documented in the German language since the 16th century," he said, arguing that the "real scandal" was that "only I face a legal conviction for it." 

"I'm a dissident, not a criminal," he concluded.

What happened in the first case?

In May, Höcke — leader of the AfD in the German state of Thüringia  — was fined €13,000 by the same court for the original offense of using the phrase at an event in Merseburg in May 2021.

His words were deemed to break Germany's law against using symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations. Judges agreed with the prosecutors' argument that, as a former history teacher, Höcke was aware of the origin of the phrase.

Germany's far-right AfD riding high despite setbacks

An appeal against the ruling is possible for Höcke who plans to run for governor in the eastern state of Thuringia in September. The conviction won't prevent him from running in the election.

The AfD has fostered a strong core support, particularly in Germany's formerly communist eastern states, which include Thuringia.

Its popularity there propelled it to a second-place finish in the European Parliament election in June, garnering 15.9% of the vote despite repeat scandals and setbacks.

rc/msh (AFP, dpa)