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Björn Höcke

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Björn Höcke
2019-10-27 Wahlabend Thüringen by Sandro Halank–88.jpg
Höcke in 2019
Leader of Alternative for Germany in Thuringia
Assumed office
February 2013
Preceded byOffice established
Member of the Landtag of Thuringia
Assumed office
5 December 2014
Personal details
Born (1972-04-01) 1 April 1972 (age 49)
Lünen, Westphalia, West Germany
NationalityGerman
Political partyAfD (2013–present)

Björn Höcke (born 1 April 1972) is a German politician and a member of Alternative for Germany (AfD). Along with Andreas Kalbitz, Höcke is the leader of the AfD's far-right "Der Flügel" faction, which the German government's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution declared a right-wing extremist organization.[1][2]

Early life and education

Björn Höcke was born in Lünen, Westphalia. His grandparents were expelled Germans from East Prussia. He took his Abitur at the Rhein-Wied-Gymnasium, Neuwied, in 1991.[3]

Höcke is a former history teacher,[2] teaching at the Rhenanus School, a comprehensive school in Bad Sooden-Allendorf.[4]

Political career

Höcke was a short-time member of the Junge Union.[5]

As one of the founders of AfD Thuringia, he became Member of the Landtag of Thuringia, the state assembly of the federal state of Thuringia in Germany during the 2014 Thuringian State Elections.[6] Höcke is the speaker of the parliamentary group of the AfD and he is the spokesman of the Thuringia Landesverband (English: Regional Association) of his party.[7] He is said to be part of the “national-conservative wing” of the AfD.[8] His faction of the party is known as the Flügel (the Wing)[9] and 40 percent of the AfD party members identify themselves with it.[10]

In September 2019, Höcke threatened "massive consequences" to a ZDF journalist who refused to restart an interview after a series of difficult questions and after asking fellow party members whether various quotes are from his book or from Hitler's Mein Kampf.[11]

Political views and controversies

Höcke espouses far-right views.[12] Political scientists such as Gero Neugebauer and Hajo Funke have commented that Höcke's opinions are close to the National Democratic Party of Germany and consider his statements völkisch, racist and fascist.[13][14] In September 2019, a German court ruled that Höcke could legally be called a fascist as the description "rests on verifiable fact".[15] He is reported to have declared that if Europe would keep on taking in immigrants, the African "reproductive behavior" will not change.[16] Regarding the European migrant crisis, Höcke opposes Germany's asylum policy,[17][18] leading regular demonstrations in Erfurt against the federal government's asylum policy, which regularly attracted several thousand sympathizers.[19] He opposes the euro, favoring a return to national currencies.[20]

Höcke has called for more "Prussian virtues" and promotes natalist views, specifically the "three-child family as a political and social model."[21] He opposes gender mainstreaming and demands an end of what he calls "social experiments" that undermine what he deems the "natural gender order."[22] He opposes the mainstreaming of students with disabilities, calling for such students to go the separate schools, and opposes school sexual education, which he regards as "early sexualization of the students," and wants to "stop the dissolution of the natural polarity of the two sexes".[23]

In a 2014 email to party colleagues, Höcke advocated the abolition of section 86 of the German Criminal Code (which prohibits the spread of propaganda by unconstitutional organizations) and section 130 of the German Criminal Code (which criminalizes incitement to hatred towards other groups).[24] This would also have legalized Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Germany.[25]

Höcke has links with neo-Nazi circles in Germany.[1][2] Höcke has written with Thorsten Heise, a leader of NPD.[26][27] In 2015 Höcke was accused of having contributed to Heise's journal People in Motion (Volk in Bewegung) and The Reichsbote under a pseudonym ("Landolf Ladig"). Höcke denied having ever written for NPD papers, but refused to give a statutory declaration as demanded by the AfD Federal Executive Board.[28][29]

Allegations of antisemitism

A replica of the Holocaust memorial was erected on the property adjacent to Höcke.

Höcke gave a speech in Dresden in January 2017, in which, referring to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin (the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), he stated that "we Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital"[30] and suggested that Germans "need to make a 180 degree change in their commemoration policy".[31] The speech was widely criticized as antisemitic, among others by Jewish leaders in Germany, and he was described by his party chairwoman, Frauke Petry, in response as a “burden to the party”.[30][32] As a result of his speech, the majority of leaders of the AfD asked in February 2017 that Björn Höcke be expelled from the party. In May 2018 an AfD tribunal ruled that Höcke was allowed to stay in the party.[33][11] After Höcke's "monument of shame" comment, the Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art collective, erected a full-scale replica of one section of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin within viewing distance of Höcke's home in Bornhagen as a reminder of German history.[12]

A video of Höcke emerged in March 2020 in which he used an Auschwitz pun while attacking critics of his Flügel faction. The faction had been placed under surveillance by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution shortly before the video surfaced.[34]

References

  1. ^ a b Christopher F. Schuetze, Far-Right Faction of German Populist Party Vows to Dissolve, New York Times (March 25, 2020).
  2. ^ a b c Katrin Bennhold, Germany Places Part of Far-Right Party Under Surveillance, New York Times (March 12, 2020).
  3. ^ "Fraktionsvorsitzender der AfD Björn Höcke besucht seine Heimatstadt Neuwied". Der Lokalanzeiger. 24 April 2015. Archived from the original on 31 January 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Trotz "menschenfeindlicher Positionen": AfD-Politiker Björn Höcke bleibt Beamter in Hessen". Frankfurter Allgemeine (in German). 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  5. ^ "AfD-Rechtsaußen Höcke ist von ganz alter Schule". Die Welt. 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Landtagswahl 2014: Welche Koalitionen sind in Thüringen möglich?"". Thüringische Landeszeitung. 16 July 2014.
  7. ^ "AfD Vorstand Thüringen".
  8. ^ "Thüringen: Ausschuss hebt Immunität von AfD-Fraktionschef Höcke auf". Der Spiegel. 3 July 2015.
  9. ^ Huggler, Justin (2019-10-27). "Germany's 'new Hitler' poised to lead AfD to regional election gains". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  10. ^ "AfD's Björn Höcke: Firebrand of the German far right". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  11. ^ a b "AfD politician threatens journalist after Hitler comparison". The Guardian.
  12. ^ a b Katrin Bennhold (December 25, 2017). "For One Far-Right Politician, Forgetting Germany's Past Just Got Harder". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Eindeutig rechtsextremistisch". Handelsblatt. 2 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Die AfD hat sich rechtsradikalisiert". Deutschlandfunk. 23 October 2015.
  15. ^ Olterman, Philip (5 February 2020). "Outrage as German centre-right votes with AfD to oust Thuringia premier". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  16. ^ Knight, Ben (July 3, 2016). "What does the AfD stand for?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  17. ^ "AfD fordert Aussetzung des Schengener Abkommens". Die Zeit. 27 August 2014.
  18. ^ Leubecher, Marcel (3 November 2015). "Welche Rechten stecken hinter dem schwarzen Haken?". Die Welt.
  19. ^ "Hessen will AfD-Politiker Höcke nicht mehr unterrichten lassen". Der Tagesspiegel. 18 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Kandidaten Bundestagswahl 2013". wen-wählen.de. 2013.
  21. ^ "AfD Kandidat Höcke im Interview: Drei-Kinder-Familie ist politisches Leitbild". Thüringische Landeszeitung. 21 July 2014.
  22. ^ Oestreich, Heide (17 September 2014). "Natürliche Geschlechterordnung". Die Tageszeitung.
  23. ^ "AfD will sich mit rechten Thesen profilieren". Der Tagesspiegel. 31 July 2014.
  24. ^ "Höcke sorgt erneut mit Äußerungen für Wirbel". Focus (in German). 29 May 2015.
  25. ^ "Neuer Beleg für NPD-Nähe von AfD-Landeschef Höcke In: MDR.de vom 29. Mai 2015". Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  26. ^ "Keiner traut sich an Höcke heran" (in German). Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  27. ^ Andreas Kemper: Im Dienste einer großen „Abrechnung“, in: der Freitag, Ausg. 26/2019, abgerufen am 4. Juli 2019.
  28. ^ Severin Weiland, Christina Hebel: Mutmaßlicher Kontakt zur NPD: AfD-Landeschef Höcke lehnt eidesstattliche Erklärung ab. Spiegel, 29. April 2015
  29. ^ Hannes Vogel: Alte Kameraden. Zeit, 13. September 2018
  30. ^ a b "AfD-Mann Höcke löst mit Kritik an Holocaust-Gedenken Empörung aus". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). January 18, 2017.
  31. ^ Matthias Kamann (January 19, 2017). "Was Höcke mit der "Denkmal der Schande"-Rede bezweckt". Die Welt (in German).
  32. ^ "AfD-Chefin Petry: "Höcke ist eine Belastung für die Partei"". Junge Freiheit (in German). January 18, 2017.
  33. ^ "Germany's right-wing AfD seeks to expel state leader over Holocaust remarks". Deutsche Welle.
  34. ^ "Höcke schockiert mit Auschwitz-Wortspiel". www.tagesspiegel.de (in German). Retrieved 2020-03-17.

External links