Buchenwald memorial bans German far-right AfD from Holocaust ceremony
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Buchenwald memorial bans German far-right AfD from Holocaust ceremony

AfD not welcome until they ‘credibly distance themselves from the anti-democratic, anti-human rights, and historical revisionist positions’ of their party

People mourn on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, January 26, 2018.  (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
People mourn on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, January 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

BERLIN — The memorial at the ex-Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald has blocked members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party from attending Holocaust commemorations.

The memorial said AfD members aren’t welcome until they “credibly distance themselves from the anti-democratic, anti-human rights, and historical revisionist positions of their party.”

The dpa news agency reported Friday that AfD co-leader Joerg Meuthen accused the memorial of playing politics, saying “it is deeply shocking to use such an important process as the necessary remembrance of the barbaric atrocities of the Holocaust … for today’s political struggle.”

Buchenwald has previously blocked individual AfD members from attending ceremonies.

More than a dozen AfD state lawmakers  walked out of the Bavarian parliament during a tribute to Holocaust victims Wednesday after a Jewish leader accused the Alternative for Germany of playing down the crimes of Nazis.

The state lawmakers stood up and walked out after Holocaust survivor Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, called the party out by name, saying “this so-called Alternative for Germany bases its politics on hate and marginalization.”

Jewish leader Charlotte Knobloch gives a speech during a ceremony to inaugurate a memorial site at the former Muehldorfer Hart concentration camp, on April 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/dpa/Matthias Balk)

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Knobloch said Alternative for Germany “has downplayed the crimes of the Nazis and has close connections to the extreme right.”

Lawmakers from other parties rose to their feet and gave her a standing ovation.

The AfD, as it is known by its German initials, first entered the Bavarian parliament last year and is currently in opposition with 22 of 205 seats.

Katrin Ebner-Steiner, who heads the party’s state parliamentary delegation in Bavaria, said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that the walkout was an “appropriate response.”

“The scandal is that the president of the Greater Munich Jewish Community, as a guest of state parliament, abused a memorial service for the victims of the Nazis in order to defame the complete AfD and its democratically elected representatives with the worst blanket insinuations,” Ebner-Steiner said.

Demonstrators hold up placards showing portraits of victims of refugees during a protest organized by the far-right AfD party, on September 1, 2018 in Chemnitz, Germany. (AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

AfD placed third in the country’s 2017 national election after campaigning strongly against immigration. It is now Germany’s biggest opposition party nationally.

But its rightward drift has prompted some prominent members over the years to quit the party.

Last week, the country’s domestic intelligence agency said it was putting the Alternative for Germany under increased observation amid concerns it was flirting with extremism.

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