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French far-right party splits with Germany's AfD after SS comment

Published May 21,2024

French far-right nationalists are distancing themselves from Germany's far right in the European Parliament, according to a report, after the German party's lead candidate said not all SS members were criminals.

Lawmakers from National Rally, the French party led by Marine Le Pen, no longer want to sit in the same parliamentary group as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) after next month's European elections, according to French newspapers Libération and Le Monde and broadcaster France Info, which cited the party.

Members of the European Parliament sit in political groups not organized by nationality but by their political affiliation. At present, the French and German parties are part of the same far-right nationalist Identity and Democracy (ID) grouping in the European Parliament.

The schism comes after "recent statements by the AfD," according to broadcaster France Info, referring to an interview by the AfD's lead candidate in the European elections, Maximilian Krah, with Italian newspaper La Repubblica at the weekend.

Krah said not all members of the SS were criminals, referring to the Schutzstaffel (SS), a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

"I will never say that everyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal," said Krah. When asked whether the SS were war criminals, he replied, "There was certainly a high percentage of criminals, but not all of them were criminals."

Nazi concentration camps were guarded and administered by the SS, which was heavily involved in war crimes. The organization was declared a criminal organization in the Nuremberg trials after the end of World War II.

The split between the French and German parties comes after a series of disagreements between the AfD and National Rally.