A regional leader from Germany’s far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been barred from attending the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday because of incendiary comments he made in a speech last week.
Addressing an AfD youth group in Dresden last week, Björn Höcke urged Germany to end its “culture of remembering Nazi crimes,” and called the Holocaust memorial in the center of Berlin “a monument of shame erected in the heart of the capital.”
“After his speech in Dresden, Mr. Höcke’s participation in the wreath-laying ceremony in the former concentration camp of Buchenwald is not acceptable,” said the vice director of the Buchenwald Foundation, Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau, adding that the place and time were central components of public commemoration, which Mr. Höcke had vilified.
Despite the public rebuff, Mr. Höcke said he wanted to take part in the ceremony. “It is simply not up to you to decide who participates in this official commemorative event and who does not,” he wrote to the Buchenwald Memorial Center in a letter.
According to public broadcaster MDR, Mr. Höcke's car was stopped by police in front of Buchenwald on Friday afternoon, he was shown documents barring him from the premises and then left.
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Höcke was excluded from a memorial service in the state parliament of Thuringia. During the begin of the commemoration, parliament president Christian Carius explained, he had told Mr. Höcke that his presence would be felt as a provocation and the AfD politician had then accepted this.
Germany commemorates the Holocaust on the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz death camp on January 27, 1945 by Soviet troops. Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps in Germany.