Far-right German Party to Punish Leader for Blasting 'Culture of Remembering Nazi Crimes'

AfD leader Bjoern Hoecke says 'Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital.'

Frauke Petry, co-chairman of the Alternative for Germany party.
Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

The right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) will discipline one of its state leaders over remarks he made criticizing Berlin's Holocaust Memorial, the party's co-leader said on Monday. 

Bjoern Hoecke, AfD head in eastern Thuringia, triggered anger across Germany with a comment about the memorial. He told party members in a speech in Dresden last week: "Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital." 

AfD co-leader Frauke Petry told German broadcaster MDR on Monday that its executive committee had concluded Hoecke's statements harmed the reputation of the party. 

As a result, the party considered it necessary to take disciplinary action, said Petry, who had already distanced herself from Hoecke's remarks. She gave no further details. 

The AfD's anti-immigrant rhetoric has won support among Germans worried about the influx of more than a million migrants in the last two years. With polls putting it on 12-15 percent, the AfD is tipped to win seats in the federal parliament for the first time in September's national election. 

Hoecke said his remarks were misrepresented by the media and his speech was intended to reflect on how Germans looked at their history. In the speech, Hoecke also slammed Germany's "culture of remembering Nazi crimes" and said the country should rewrite its history books to focus more on its own victims.

The Holocaust Memorial, located near the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin, comprises a large number of grey granite slabs of varying heights, arranged in a grid pattern.