Germany’s AfD bans top candidate from EU poll events over Nazi comments

Maximilian Krah recently said Nazi SS members ‘not all criminals’, prompting French far-right allies to shun party.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has banned Maximilian Krah, its leading candidate in European elections, from further campaign activities after his comments that members of the SS (Schutzstaffel), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, were “not all criminals”.

A party spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the AfD’s federal steering committee had banned the politician from making public appearances before elections for the European Parliament, scheduled for June 6-9.

Krah had told Italian newspaper La Repubblica last weekend: “I will never say that everyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal.”

Posting on X on Wednesday, Krah said his statements were being “misused as a pretext to harm our party”, declaring that he would refrain from further election campaign appearances and would resign as a member of the party’s steering committee.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Rally, said her party needed to make a “clean break” with the AfD, suggesting it had become too toxic an ally ahead of the elections.

“Now it’s no longer time to distance ourselves – it’s time to make a clean break with this movement,” Le Pen told Europe 1 radio. “The AfD goes from provocation to provocation.”

Deepening crisis

The split comes after the AfD, which had become Germany’s second most popular party before local and European elections this year, has come under intense scrutiny over its policies and allegations that it harbours agents for Russia and China.

Krah found himself at the centre of the crisis after one of his aides in the European Parliament was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

Krah and another AfD candidate for the European Union elections, Petr Bystron, have also denied allegations they accepted money to spread pro-Russian positions on a Moscow-financed news website.

German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation against Krah over reports of suspicious payments received from China and Russia.

Last week, a German court ruled that domestic security services could continue to keep the AfD under surveillance as a potentially “extremist” party.

Polls suggest that nationalist and eurosceptic parties will win a record number of votes in June.

Voters are expected to punish mainstream parties over high inflation, immigration policy, and inadequate housing and healthcare.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies