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German far-right politician Björn Höcke guilty of using Nazi slogan

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A prominent far-right German politician has been found guilty of knowingly using a Nazi slogan in a speech.

Björn Höcke, who leads the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the state of Thuringia, was on trial for saying the words “Everything for Germany!” at a May 2021 rally.

The slogan is associated with the SA stormtroopers, who played a key role in the Nazis’ rise to power.

Höcke – a former history teacher – had denied knowing the phrase’s roots.

The court in the eastern city of Halle convicted the 52-year-old of using symbols of a Nazi organisation and fined him €13,000 ($14,000; £11,200). DW News reports, external that the money will go to a grassroots anti-extremism programme.

However, Höcke escaped the maximum sentence of three years in prison and being barred from public office. He can appeal the verdict.

During the trial, which started last month, Höcke had argued that he was “completely innocent”.

But court spokesperson Adina Kessler-Jensch said judges were convinced that Höcke was aware of the ban.

Presiding judge Jan Stengel told Höcke he was “an articulate, intelligent man who knows what he is saying”, according to the German news agency DPA.

At the campaign event in the state of Saxony-Anhalt in May 2021, Mr Höcke ended a speech by saying: “Everything for our homeland, everything for Saxony-Anhalt, everything for Germany!”

Prosecutors say he knew the phrase was banned for being associated with the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA). But he said it was a “common saying” which should not be criminalised.

At another rally in December 2023, he said: “Everything for…”, to which the audience responded: “Germany!”

Prosecutors had initially sought to try him for both incidents but the court in Halle decided to try him only for the 2021 rally.

In 2017 Höcke called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “memorial of shame”.

Höcke has led the AfD’s regional branch in Thuringia since the party was founded in 2013. The party is leading in the polls for elections in the state due later this year.

The Thuringian AfD is one of three branches under official surveillance by the domestic intelligence agency as a “proven right-wing extremist” group.

The ruling comes a day after another court case, which found Germany’s domestic intelligence agency was justified in putting the AfD under observation for suspected extremism.

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