German right-wing leader barred
28 Jan 2017 - 2:38
Berlin: A German right-wing populist politician was barred yesterday from a Holocaust memorial event after he sparked outrage by arguing his country should focus less on its guilt over the Nazi past.
Bjoern Hoecke of anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) had labelled Berlin’s central Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame in the heart of the capital”.
Hoecke, AfD chairman in Thuringia state, also called in his January 17 speech for “a 180-degree shift in the politics of remembrance”, arguing Germany should focus less on its shame over World War II and the Holocaust.
When Hoecke showed up yesterday at Thuringia state assembly, the speaker barred him from attending a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and honouring those killed at the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The speaker of regional parliament, Christian Carius, said he had told Hoecke that “his presence would be seen as a provocation” and barred him from the chamber.
Another row was brewing after Hoecke said he planned to attend a Holocaust memorial event at Buchenwald memorial site, despite a request by organisers there that he stay away.
“After this speech... Mr Hoecke’s participation in wreath laying in former Buchenwald concentration camp is not acceptable,” wrote Rikola-Gunnar Luettgenau, deputy head of foundation which manages the memorial site.
Hoecke immediately replied in a letter that was quoted by German media as saying: “It is simply not up to you to decide who can participate... in this official commemoration and who cannot,” adding that he was “obviously” sticking to his plan to attend the event..
French Holocaust survivor Bertrand Herz, 86, spoke out against any “attempts to trivialise commemoration” of the victims.