HomeTop StoriesThe far-right AfD in Germany bans top EU candidate from public appearances

The far-right AfD in Germany bans top EU candidate from public appearances

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has banned its main candidate in next month’s European elections, Maximilian Krah, from appearing in public, following his comments that not all SS members were criminals.

A party spokesman confirmed a report in Bild newspaper on Wednesday that the federal executive committee had banned Krah from appearing publicly ahead of pan-EU elections to decide the next European Parliament.

Krah stated on social media platform X that he would refrain from further campaign appearances and step down as a member of the federal executive committee.

The move comes a day after France’s far-right National Rally party said it no longer wants to sit in the same parliamentary group as the AfD over Krah’s comments.

Krah told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that not all members of the SS were criminals, referring to the Schutzstaffel (SS), a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

“I will never say that anyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal,” Krah said. When asked if the SS were war criminals, he replied: “There was certainly a high percentage of criminals, but they were not all criminals.”

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The Nazi concentration camps were monitored and managed by the SS, which was deeply involved in war crimes. The force was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials after the end of World War II.

Krah said of X: “I realize that factual and nuanced statements of mine are being misused as an excuse to harm our party.”

The AfD must maintain its unity, he continued. “For this reason, I will immediately abstain from further appearances in the election campaign and resign as a member of the Federal Executive Committee.”

It is unclear how the AfD’s European election campaign will continue. According to the party leadership, the number two on the European list, Petr Bystron, will no longer appear due to investigations by the Public Prosecution Service.

Both Krah and Bystron have come under intense investigation in recent weeks for alleged ties to pro-Russian networks.

In addition, German police arrested Krah’s former aide Jian Guo last month on suspicion of espionage, and Krah fired him following allegations that the parliamentary aide was spying for China.

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The AfD’s signature theme is a hardline anti-immigration stance, and the party is benefiting from increased concern among many German voters about the rising number of asylum seekers in the country.

The party scores around 19% nationally, amid deep dissatisfaction with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition, and is expected to do well in the EU elections on June 9.

The AfD is working with the French National Rally and the Italian League in the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament.

The split between the French and German parties comes after a series of disagreements between the AfD and National Rally.

Le Pen criticized the AfD after plans to deport migrants on a large scale were discussed last November at a secret meeting near Berlin attended by members of the AfD and known radical rightists.

“So I think that, if this is the case, we have a glaring disagreement with the AfD and that we should talk together about major differences like this and see whether or not these differences impact our ability to commit to a parliamentary group,” Le Pen said.

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