Höcke uses Nazi vocabulary to change the boundaries in the politics of memory and relativize National Socialism. He now he is being judged.

Björn Hocke behind a large German flag

A big flag, with nothing behind it: Björn Höcke at a demonstration in front of the Thuringian state parliament in March Photo: Martin Schutt/dpa

SEDAN taz | It was a notable exchange of words between right-wing extremist Björn Höcke (AfD) and billionaire and Twitter boss Elon Musk a week ago on Platform about him being put on trial. What you say as a right-wing extremist when you repeat slogans banned by the SA. What was surprising, however, was that Musk responded to the German far-right and wanted to know what he had said and why he was punishable.

Höcke took advantage of the international stage and attempted to set the agenda for his trial on Thursday in Halle, where he is accused of repeatedly using the SA slogan “All for Germany.” “In Germany, every patriot is smeared as a Nazi,” replied Höcke Musk in X, “this is supposed to prevent Germany from finding itself again.”

He always left little doubt about what he meant by “find again”: Höcke has become known for breaking taboos that relativize Nazism and changing boundaries in the politics of memory – whether the obviously conscious use of Nazi language with words as “elite acting.” ” or the demand for a “180-degree turn in memory policy.” Musk has not yet responded to Höcke's response.

The chat history could be a preview of what the public can expect starting Thursday in the high-security room at the Halle Justice Center. Numerous media representatives are accredited for the process and an additional press room has even been set up.

It is very possible that Höcke wants to use his criminal trial, in which he has to appear personally as a defendant, as a stage for his election campaign. This impression was recently left by the far-right in the television duel with the CDU's top candidate, Mario Voigt, when he was in World-Television was allowed to trivialize the SA slogan in front of an audience of millions as a “common saying”.

Höcke claimed that Telekom had already used “Everything for Germany” in its advertising and that the slogan was also on a fire station in Jänschwalde, Brandenburg. In fact, Telekom denies this and wants to take legal action against Höcke, and the motto in the fire department was not published until 1935, when the Nazis were already in power.

Höcke in the best Nazi company

Höcke's agenda becomes even creepier when analyzing who has historically used the phrase “All for Germany.” Above all, for example, the main Nazi war criminals convicted at the Nuremberg trials: Wilhelm Keitel, head of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, said before being hanged: “Everything for Germany.”

Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Heß, said during the consecration of the flag: “It should fly as the center of Germanness and remind you and give you strength to subordinate your life to the idea: All for Germany!”, and Alfred Meyer, A participant in the 1942 Wannsee Conference, where the Holocaust was organized, said after the failed assassination attempt on Stauffenberg: “Never give up! All for Germany! All for our leader Adolf Hitler!” The list could be expanded.

As far as is known, Höcke first publicly used the SA saying at the end of a 2021 election campaign speech in Merseburg, Saxony-Anhalt. In December 2023 she repeated the slogan indirectly. During a speech he asked his audience in Gera to use the slogan: Höcke complained about his trial for the slogan “Everything for…” and asked the audience to complete the SA slogan with a hand gesture. The audience responded loudly: “…Germany!”

The court also included this event in the indictment last week. Initially, Höcke was only charged for the first use of it from a criminal point of view, probably not doing himself any favors by repeating the slogan or with his statements on social media.

The historian Martin Sabrow spoke in the publishing house Germany about the use of the SA slogan, coined in 1934 in “Ehrendaggerche”: “Höcke plays with the provocative ambiguity of this slogan, which only reveals its real violence in a performative way, that is, in the context. from its use as a pathetic slogan. From his point of view, it is difficult to say whether the Merseburg listeners who heard Höcke's election campaign speech were aware of the poisonous integration into a seemingly harmless appeal – “but the listeners who completed the chanted slogan by Höcke in Gera with an enthusiastic response it certainly did.

The charges were slow to arrive

Criminal lawyers were surprised that it had taken so long for the prosecution to file charges, because the case is not really complicated or controversial from a criminal law point of view. Former BGH judge Thomas Fischer described the long duration of the trial as “unusual” and criminal law professor Mohamad El-Ghazi was also surprised. After all, it is difficult for a history professor and a far-right extremist to claim historical ignorance.

Although Höcke probably wants to do it, it does not seem very convincing: in the context of the AfD there was already a wide debate in 2017 about the same SA slogan in relation to the AfD. At that time, AfD politician Ulrich Oehme printed the slogan on posters. Oehme covered the posters after a criminal complaint and extensive media coverage.

And the question of criminal liability is also considered to be clarified: there is already a ruling by the Higher Regional Court in Hamm from 2006 on a similar matter. The court convicted a person because he had used exactly the slogan “Everything for Germany.” The Bundestag's investigative service also considers “the use of the phrase 'Everything for Germany' in a speech at a meeting” to be a “punishable statement”, “since it was the SA slogan.” The use of symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations is punishable under article 86a with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine.

Under no circumstances can Höcke lose his right to defend himself as a result of the proceedings: this would require a misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of one year or more. A petition with 1.7 million signatures is currently calling for the far-right to be deprived of his right to vote.

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