Germany’s far-right AfD bans EU top candidate from public appearances


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

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

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

The move comes a day after the French 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 the 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 everyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal,” said Krah. When asked whether the SS were war criminals, he replied, “There was certainly a high percentage of criminals, but not all of them were criminals.”

Nazi concentration camps were guarded and administered by the SS, which was heavily involved in war crimes. The force was declared a criminal organization in the Nuremberg trials after the end of World War II.

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

The AfD must maintain its unity, he continued. “For this reason, I will refrain from further election campaign appearances with immediate effect 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 also no longer appear due to investigations by the public prosecutor’s office.

Bystron announced on Wednesday that he will no longer be campaigning for the time being, due to family reasons.

“My closest family members have once again been the victims of a house search and media harassment,” Bystron told dpa. “Anyone who doesn’t understand that I have to look after them first has no heart.”

Bystron is currently under investigation for money laundering and bribery. His Berlin home was searched on Tuesday.

Bystron’s announcement came several days after AfD chairpersons Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla had asked him to refrain from making any further appearances in the European election campaign until the allegations against him had been clarified.

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

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

The AfD’s signature issue is a hard-line anti-immigration stance, and the party is profiting from increased concern among many German voters over rising numbers of people seeking asylum in the country.

The party is polling nationally at around 19%, amid high dissatisfaction with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition, and is predicted to do well in the EU election on June 9.

The AfD works together with France’s National Rally and Italy’s League party in the far-right nationalist Identity and Democracy (ID) grouping in the European Parliament.

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

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen criticized the AfD after plans to deport migrants on a large scale were discussed at a secret meeting attended by members of the AfD and well-known radical right-wingers last November near Berlin.

“So I think that, if this is the case, we have a glaring difference of opinion with the AfD and that we need to talk together about major differences like this and see whether or not these differences have consequences for our capacity to ally ourselves in a parliamentary group,” Le Pen said.



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