Buchenwald memorial manager Jens-Christian Wagner sees the planned speech by Thuringian AfD state party and parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke on the day of liberation from National Socialism as a provocation. "When Höcke speaks in Weimar on May 8 of all days, the day the war ended and liberation from National Socialism - in Weimar of all places - then he undoubtedly meant that as a historical-political signal," Wagner told the German Press Agency in Erfurt .
On the fringes of the AfD state party conference on Saturday, Höcke signaled when asked that he would not give a speech on May 8th as a commemoration day or on the historic event. It's about showing solidarity with the "citizens' protests," said Höcke.
Wagner pointed out that Weimar was inextricably linked to Buchenwald. Between 1937 and 1945, the Nazis held more than a quarter of a million people in the Buchenwald concentration camp near the city of Weimar. About 56,000 of them died during their imprisonment from the catastrophic conditions in the camp or were killed by the SS. On April 11, 1945, US troops had reached the camp. On May 8, 1945, the Second World War in Europe came to an end with the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht.
Wagner said that Höcke's planned appearance shows "that this right-wing mixed scene is very, very strongly linked to the AfD". During so-called Monday walks in Weimar, representatives of the right-wing extremist scene, opponents of the Corona policy and other groups met. Civil society must take a stand against this, he demanded. He himself wants to speak at a counter-demonstration on Monday.
The historian and head of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation recalled a speech by Höcke from 2017. At that time, the controversial politician in Dresden had triggered a heated debate with his call for a "180 degree turn in commemoration policy". In it he also said, referring to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin: "We Germans, that is, our people, are the only people in the world who have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital."
At an appearance about a week ago in Erfurt, Höcke called for a political turnaround and said: "It has to be a real 180-degree turnaround". Wagner said that this also includes the culture of remembrance. "If, after such a speech, a week later, on May 8th, you appear in Weimar of all places, then that's the subtext, and then you don't even have to say it so firmly. It's completely clear that it's about historical revisionism goes." The Thuringian AfD was classified as right-wing extremist by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution.