Höcke, a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), was fined €13,000 in May for knowingly using the phrase “Alles für Deutschland” (Everything for Germany) at a 2021 campaign rally.

A motto of the Sturmabteilung paramilitary group that played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, the phrase is illegal in Germany, along with the Nazi salute and other slogans and symbols from that era.

Höcke, a former high school history teacher, claimed he was unaware of the slogan’s Nazi past but judges in Halle agreed with prosecutors that he fully understood what he was saying.

The same court will now have to decide whether Höcke, the leader of the AfD in the eastern region of Thuringia, is guilty of knowingly using the slogan a second time at a party gathering in his home state in December 2023.

Höcke had called out the phrase “everything for” and allegedly incited the crowd to reply “Germany”.

If convicted, he could face a fine or up to three years in jail, according to German media. A verdict could come as early as this week.

Considered an extremist by German intelligence services, Hoecke has long courted controversy.

He once called Berlin’s Holocaust monument a “memorial of shame” and has urged a “180-degree shift” in the country’s culture of remembrance.

But the scandals haven’t dented his popularity, and Hoecke is gunning to become Germany’s first far-right state premier when Thuringia holds regional elections in September.

READ ALSO: Germany’s far-right AfD sees strong gains in local eastern elections

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The anti-Islam, anti-immigration AfD is currently polling in first place in Thuringia. The party is also expected to perform strongly in two other regional elections in eastern Germany in September.

But in a country where coalition governments are the norm, Germany’s mainstream parties have consistently ruled out cooperating with the AfD.

The AfD scored a record 16 percent in the European Parliament elections earlier this month, outperforming Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party.

READ ALSO: What the EU elections say about the state of politics in Germany

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