Prosecutors in the eastern city of Halle said that Björn Höcke was charged with public use of a symbol of an unconstitutional organization. Höcke, an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany, heads his party’s branch in the neighboring eastern state of Thuringia.
Höcke is accused of ending a speech to some 250 people in Merseburg in May 2021 with the words “Everything for Germany!” Prosecutors charge that he was aware of the origin of the phrase as an SA slogan. In a statement, they said Höcke’s lawyers had denied that his words had any “criminal relevance.”
The AfD in Thuringia is considered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a clearly right-wing extremist party, and so are the youths of the Young Alternative (JA) party that Hocke supports.
Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has come under increasing scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, which has placed its Thuringia branch under formal observation.
The charges against Höcke come as Germany’s mainstream parties are trading blame for polls showing support for AfD reaching a record high.
Höcke has in the past espoused revisionist views of Germany’s Nazi past. In 2018, he called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame” and called for Germany to perform a “180-degree turn” when it comes to the way it remembers its past. A party tribunal at the time rejected a bid to have him expelled.