It's a night when media worlds drift apart. SPD gives broadcast tips: “Watch the wolf of Wall Street, not the wolf in sheep's clothing!” Welt TV broadcasts “Germany's most controversial exchange of blows”, according to its advertisement. The news program “Welt am Abend” covers the big event of a small channel in detail. A 55-minute TV debate is planned between AfD man Björn Höcke and Thuringian CDU top candidate Mario Voigt. Germany argued for weeks whether this was allowed. It lasts 71 minutes. And after that TV debate, it became very clear: television can do more than it often gives itself credit for. Björn Höcke, the politician who reflects himself in the brown swamp more clearly than anyone else, is not a self-reflective TV Nazi who can use the TV cameras for himself, his vanity and his politics.

There is no birthday present for Höcke's 51st birthday.

Höcke turned 51 ten days ago. It's not the birthday present that Welt TV is giving him tonight. This is primarily thanks to editor-in-chief Jan Philipp Burgard. As a moderator, he is well prepared, consistent and decisive. Right from the start, he makes the rules of the game transparent. A week ago on Friday, Höcke and Voigt were given the topic blocks of the show. They could not prepare for specific questions. This causes Björn Höcke in particular to stumble during the discussion.

69 percent say the debate is “right”

In the previous news program, the discussion of the past days was carried out again by Welt TV. Should we give the Thuringian branch of the AfD, known as radical of all things, this forum? Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has his say, and he considers the so-called duel between Thuringia's top candidates to be correct. FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has said that she definitely has better things to do this evening. There is also a report from the FOCUS opinion poll, according to which 69 percent of Germans consider such a debate “right”. The main public news program “Tagesschau” has different topics than Höckel. Within minutes, he reports on the Bundestag's allegations about the AfD's contacts with Russia. On the day that the prisoners of Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps were released, pictures are shown of Munich, where they want to give faces to the murdered during the “Return the Names” campaign.

And current fascism?

The TV debate starts with fascism, but with the present. Höcke can be described by the court as a fascist. “Well, the introduction had to be there,” says Höcke, “but I'm still very happy.” The AfD man still seems calm. When asked if the European Union is essential for the economy and prosperity, he crosses his arms in defense and puts his left hand on his neck. Body language experts often interpret this as a sign of insecurity. It doesn't fit the full answer: “Absolutely!”

“It burns my tongue!”

Just five minutes have passed since the AfD man is promoting his own “alternative fact-checking” for the first time. From the ten minute mark, Höcke's use of the edge of the hand becomes violent. “It's tongue-in-cheek,” he says, when his rival Voigt declares that the performance should be worth it again, “this is the typical sound of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. People don't want to be fooled anymore – they themselves are guilty of disillusionment with politics!” Sofort refers to his own fact-checking for the second time. At the same time, Höcke foresees what will happen next on the Internet. The program that the viewer watches is one truth. Then another can be created in the interpretations.

“You're just pulling your cheeks out!”

Jan Philipp Burgard will be decisive in the real show. He stops when Höcke wants to talk about the fate of chopped bread in Europe: “Let's get to the next point!” It's about migration. Interestingly, the CDU's top candidate Voigt is accused of inaction. Of all places, nothing is going on with the AfD regional administrator in the first district: “They're just puffing their cheeks!” Voigt is in favor of hiring skilled workers. “Every fourth doctor in Thuringia comes from abroad,” says Voigt. Maybe Höckel will need it someday too. However, according to Voigt, “Reich Chancellor Höcke” would not want to involve qualified specialists. Höcke, on the other hand, is in favor of a biological solution: “During the AfD government, having children for money is no longer possible in Thuringia.” And the AfD man hopes for the remigration of emigrant Germans back to Germany. Only: “This country is a country where you can no longer breathe properly.”

“I notice you refuse to answer!”

The issue of remigration continues. Millions must be “remigrated” from Germany. Jan Philipp Burgard calculates that only 500,000 illegals live here. Then Höcke only weakly answers: “Don't pollute the word remigration like that…” The moderator gives him a quote: “Do you think that Bundestag Vice President Özogus has no place in Germany?” Höcke can only repeat: “I don't have this quote ready anymore.” Burgard sums it up very decisively: “I firmly believe you refuse to answer.”

“We are forbidden to enter the concentration camp there”

The body language of the two contestants remains exciting. Voigt turns to Höcke. He doesn't look back, he looks to the sky and lets the sentences turn blue: “You risk a big lip now – your party is responsible. You have caused damage, you are dissolving Germany like a bar of soap.» However, Höcke becomes strikingly clear on the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. “This is an important memorial day. I would also like to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp. Only: we are not allowed to stay there.

“Other countries have a different culture of remembrance”

The moderator continues again: “There are reasons for this. Do you also consider the memorial a monument of shame?” Höcke admits: “The Holocaust was a shame. No one denies it.” But he tries to put it into perspective:

“Other countries have a different culture of remembrance.” Again, Jan Philipp Burgard does not let it go like that: “Other countries did not murder six million Jews either.” This is getting pretty embarrassing for the former history teacher. Höcke, when the moderator asks: why did he use the SA slogan “All to Germany”. He swears wildly. For some reason, he was actually just interpreting Donald Trump's “America First” loosely. Only when asked did he admit, “No, I didn't know that was SA's slogan. It's a common saying, a common phrase.” Burgard repeats it: “You're a history teacher.” CDU rival Voigt can very calmly watch Höcke self-deprecating.

“Russia wants peace!”

Editor-in-Chief Burgard confuses the AfD man again and again with very clear questions. Example: “Should Germany supply Ukraine with more or less weapons, Mr. Höcke?” He does not know Putin personally, says Höcke and complains about the black and white painting of the “German media”. Russia is actually a beleaguered country, he says. And he comes to a remarkable thesis: “Russia wants peace.”

A sheep in wolf's clothing?

“You spoke significantly more than Mr. Voigt,” says the moderator, looking at the timer toward the end of the debate. Politician Björn Höcke, who so badly wants to be the election winner in Thuringia, has often not done himself well. The viewer who experienced one of the most exciting TV nights in a long time benefited. Mini channel Welt TV won in March with a 0.9 percent market share. For him, the most successful broadcasting day so far was February 24, 2022, the day of Russia's attack on Ukraine. Without wanting to link Putin and Höcke directly: it may happen that the televised debate with Höcke reaches a new peak. But television especially came in handy that night. It has shown that one can be sure of much more than the doubters would expect. The “wolf in sheep's clothing”, which the SPD had previously warned about, will end up looking more like a sheep in wolf's clothing on TV at the end of the night.