The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is in disarray after Nazi statements

  • author, Jess Parker
  • Role, BBC News, Berlin

A senior far-right German politician said he will withdraw from campaigning for the upcoming European Union elections, although he will remain his party’s main candidate.

The latest controversy comes after Maximilian Krah, leader of the AfD, told reporters that SS members are not automatically “criminals”.

He told La Repubblica and the Financial Times: “It depends. You have to assess the blame individually. At the end of the war there were almost a million SS. Günter Grass was also in the Waffen-SS,” referring to the novelist The German who wrote The Tin Drum.

“Before I declare someone a criminal, I want to know what they did.”

The SS, or Schutzstaffel, was a Nazi paramilitary group active in the 1930s and 1940s. Among other crimes against humanity, members of the SS played a leading role in the Holocaust, the genocide of six million Jews and others during World War II.

In response to these statements, the far-right National Rally party in France announced that it would no longer sit with the Alternative for Germany party in the European Parliament.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen told French radio that “it is necessary to establish a security cordon” between the two parties.

“Counterfeit” is a term used by some political parties to refuse to cooperate with movements considered too extreme. It is often used by French politicians to rule out working with Le Pen’s National Front party.

In February, AfD leader Alice Weidel met with National Front leaders Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella in an attempt to bridge the rift between the two parties.

Comment on the photo, Marine Le Pen said she rejects mass deportations of citizens based on their ethnic origin

The National Front had distanced itself from the AfD after it was revealed that the German party held a secret meeting at a lake villa outside Berlin where mass deportations of non-ethnic Germans – including German citizens – were allegedly discussed.

Le Pen said at the time that she rejected mass deportations of citizens based on their ethnic origin.

Ms. Weidel denies that the party ever planned to take such a step. “Nobody wants that,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “That would be unconstitutional and, to me, a violation of human rights.”

Announcing his decision to step back from the election campaign, Krah wrote on the X website: “The AfD must maintain its unity.”

He added: “For this reason, I will refrain from appearing in any further campaign events with immediate effect and will resign from my position as a member of the Federal Executive Council.”

Mr Krah has come under pressure in the run-up to this year’s EU elections, which will be held from June 6-9.

In April, German police arrested one of his employees on suspicion of spying for China.

German prosecutors have opened an investigation into Mr. Krah over alleged payments from Russia and China, which he denies.

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