A German politician who was elected to Berlin’s parliament last Sunday has a history of glorifying Nazis and demonizing refugees, according to a report published by Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Kay Nerstheimer, 52, who represented the far-right AfD party, won 26% of the vote in his east Berlin district in state elections held over the weekend.
Trawling through the candidate's now-deleted Facebook page, the newspaper found examples of Nazi glorification, historic revisionism, and xenophobia.
In a post from 2012, Nerstheimer described himself as the leader of the Berlin wing of the German Defence League, a far-right and Islamophobic militia founded in 2010. The group's members see themselves as the "keepers of the Judaeo-Christian and Greco-Roman tradition" whose aim is "to protect against the assaults of radical Islam."
Nerstheimer's posts also included comments under photos glorifying the Nazi reign in Germany. Other posts gloss over Nazi crimes, including a defence of Erich Priebke, a former SS captain who was convicted of war crimes in 1997 for hundreds of murders committed in Italy during World War II.
More recently, he posted a video called “Everything is a lie - the real causes of the 1939 war,” which spread nationalist and anti-Semitic conspiracies.
In his posts, Nerstheimer called refugees “vermin” and “parasites that feed on the German people.” He also ranted about black people and the LGBT community. In a comment posted in 2014, he called the latter a "degenerate species."
A year earlier, he referred to the German foreign minister and the country's defence minister as “traitors.”
His posts also appear to justify the use of violence to achieve political aims such as ridding the country of unwelcome refugees.
In last Sunday’s state elections in Berlin, the AfD won 14% of the vote, securing 25 seats. Two weeks ago, in the east German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the far-right group came second, taking 21% of the vote share, finishing ahead of the centre-right CDU party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The party now holds seats in 10 of Germany's 16 states. Nationally, with a general election due next year, the AfD is currently polling in third place with around 14% of the vote.
Earlier this week, Hans Blomeier of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation told BuzzFeed News that certain debates that had long been a taboo in Germany — including ideas about German nationalism and identity and people's ethnicity — since the end of the second world war are now making a comeback.
"What is dangerous is not always the words themselves, but their history and what is behind them," Blomeier said. "A nation that is outward-looking is suddenly inward-looking again — and the AfD is driving this."
Update: On Wednesday evening, the AfD released a statement saying that Nerstheimer had decided to sit in parliament as an independent MP.
Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alberto Nardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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