Sun | Feb 17, 2019

Far-right lawmakers walk out of Holocaust tribute in Bavaria

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:14 AM
Charlotte Knobloch, Holocaust survivor and former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, speaks at the Bavarian Parliament in Munich, Germany, yesterday. More than a dozen lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany walked out of the Bavarian state parliament during her speech.

BERLIN (AP):

More than a dozen state lawmakers from a German far-right party walked out of the Bavarian parliament during a tribute to Holocaust victims on 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 marginalisation”.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Knobloch said that 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’s 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.

Katharina Schulze, a Greens party leader in Bavaria, thanked Knobloch for her “clear and truthful words”, writing on Twitter that “Charlotte Knobloch summed it up perfectly: ‘Never again’ is Germany’s fundamental promise.”

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