German AfD party candidate investigated for selling Nazi memorabilia

Rudolf Müller believes he did not break the law selling Swastika medals

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 23 September 2016 09:46
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The Alternative für Deutschland party has seen unprecedented success in recent local elections in Germany (Getty)
The Alternative für Deutschland party has seen unprecedented success in recent local elections in Germany (Getty)

A leading member of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is under investigation for selling Nazi memorabilia.

In the latest scandal to engulf the right-wing group, state elections candidate Rudolf Müller was found to be offering Swastika medals and concentration camp money for sale at his antiques shop in Saarbrücken.

He admitted making the sales but claimed he was unaware they were a violation of German law, which prohibits trade in items using “symbols of unconstitutional organisations“.

Medals seen on Nazi German political and military leader Hermann Wilhelm Goering 

There is no official list of the symbols banned but the law is frequently used to prosecute people selling Nazi-era flags, uniforms and memorabilia.

Public prosecutors are investigating whether Mr Müller has broken the law, which has exceptions allowing for artistic and educational use.

Mr Müller is the AfD’s top candidate for upcoming elections in the state of Saarland, and the party has so far made no move towards deselection.

In an interview with the Saarbrücker Zeitung, the 65-year-old said he did not believe his actions were illegal.

“[This is] fundamentally neither a moral, nor certainly a criminal, problem”, he told the newspaper.

The scandal came as another AfD member was scrutinised over a number of controversial Facebook posts, including one calling Syrian refugees “disgusting worms”.

Kay Nerstheimer was elected on Sunday to Berlin's state parliament but links swiftly emerged to the comments and his former membership of the far-right German Defence League.

The AfD has dropped Mr Nerstheimer from its parliamentary group amid public outrage, but he has not been ejected from the party itself.

It has been constantly dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism and far-right links among its members and supporters since it was founded three years ago.

But the AfD has continues to gain significant support with campaigns against migrants and now has members in 10 of Germany's 16 state parliaments.

It received 14.2 per cent of the vote in the Berlin elections, when co-chairwoman Frauke Petry brushed aside reporters' questions about anti-Semitism in the party as “outrageous” and “insinuations.”

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