Björn Höcke, the state leader for right-wing, anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) condemned for a controversial speech on the Holocaust, will not be attending an upcoming party congress.
“I do not want to give a motive for initiating a scandal,” he said in a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday evening. “I do not want to give a motive for polarization.”
Mr. Höcke failed to mention that the meeting would take place at a property of the German hotel chain Maritim, which banned the Thuringia AfD leader after he referred to Berlin’s Holocaust memorial as a “monument of shame” at a youth event in January.
The meeting, scheduled for April 22 and 23 in the western city of Cologne, is expected to garner protests of around 20,000 people, according to organizers. The AfD is expected to decide on a candidate to lead the party into September’s federal elections.
The fate of Mr. Höcke, a former history teacher who has made a fair share of right-wing extremist comments, has been uncertain since the speech in January. Several members of the AfD are eager to see the state leader cast out, hoping it would put the party back on its populist tracks and away from far-right controversy.
To compound thinks for Mr. Höcke, party bosses are now convinced that he has been writing for neo-Nazi publications under a pseudonym, although he denies this.
German daily Der Tagesspiegel, a sister publication of Handelsblatt, reported on Wednesday the party has in meeting minutes accused Mr. Höcke of “having written articles in NPD publications under the pseudonym of Landolf Ladig,” referring to Germany’s far-right NPD party.
The accusations are serious, because in the articles in question in the “People in Motion” magazine, the author called Landolf Ladig not just praised the far-right NPD party for its political ideas: He also glorified the Third Reich. Mr. Höcke, who is presumed to have contacts within the neo-Nazi, has said, “I’ve never written under a pseudonym for a NPD newspaper.”
Barbara Woolsey is a writer for Handelsblatt Global in Berlin. Jean-Michel Hauteville, an editor for Handelsblatt Global, also contributed to the article. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org