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German party bans leading candidate over Nazi comments — RT World News

German party bans leading candidate over Nazi comments — RT World News

The AfD’s Maximilian Krah argued that not everyone who served in Adolf Hitler’s SS was a criminal

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has forced its top candidate for next month’s European parliamentary elections to step down after he gave an interview defending some members of the Nazi SS.

Maximilian Krah announced on Wednesday that he would not seek election and would resign from the AfD’s federal executive board, after the party banned him from making campaign appearances earlier this week. 

“I recognise that factual and nuanced statements from me are being misused as a pretext to damage our party,” Krah wrote on social media.

The scandal began last weekend, when Krah told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that not “everyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal.” In a separate interview with the Financial Times published a day later, Krah claimed that many SS members were “simple farmers who didn’t have another choice.”

“One million soldiers wore the SS uniform,” he said. “Can you really say that because someone was an officer in the Waffen-SS they were a criminal? You have to establish individual guilt.”

Unlike the regular German armed forces (Wehrmacht), the SS (Schutzstaffel) only permitted Nazi party members to join its ranks. From its origin as a small unit of bodyguards that protected party meetings, the SS grew to a formidable paramilitary organization of more than 900,000 men who fought in Poland, France, and on the Eastern Front. The SS was largely responsible for implementing the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, and members of all of its units have been implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As well as damaging his own party’s image, Krah’s remarks poisoned relations between the AfD and its right-wing ally in France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN). 

“Enough is enough now: the AfD is just going from one provocation to another,” Le Pen told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday, explaining that the RN would withdraw from the European Parliament’s Identity and Democracy (ID) faction unless the AfD were booted out. As well as the AfD, the ID group also includes the Italian Lega, Austrian FPO, and Dutch PVV parties.

The Krah scandal is the latest in a series of setbacks for the AfD. Earlier this month, a court in Lower Saxony fined party official Marie-Therese Kaiser for publishing government information showing that Afghan migrants are 70 times more likely to commit gang rape than native Germans. A week later, regional lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke was fined for uttering the slogan “everything for Germany,” which is forbidden for its association with the Nazi party. 

Best known for its hardline stance on immigration, the AfD is currently Germany’s second-largest political party. However, the country’s mainstream parties have repeatedly ruled out entering into coalition with the right-wing group. Three branches of the party have been placed under surveillance and designated by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency as a “proven right-wing extremist group.” The agency also has branded the AfD as a “suspected” extremist organization.

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