The Thuringian police have initiated an investigation against the politician because of the alleged shouting of Nazi slogans by an AfD city councilor from Sonneberg. According to information from FOCUS online, the MP is said to have shouted “Sieg Heil” several times in a bar.

The allegations shortly before the local elections in Thuringia are serious: Sonneberg AfD city councilor Alexander Escher, who is running again, is said to have shouted the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” several times in a bar. The bar owner Marcel Rocho had previously explained this to FOCUS online along with an affidavit.

“A criminal complaint was filed ex officio and an investigation was initiated in accordance with Section 86a of the Criminal Code,” a spokeswoman for the Saalfeld State Police Directorate told FOCUS online on Thursday upon request.

The paragraph punishes the use of “signs of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations”. A conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine.

But what exactly had happened? Rocho says that Escher immediately caught his eye among the guests one evening in spring 2022. The city council, who also sits on the youth and culture committee of the Thuringian holiday town, wore a light blue polo shirt with the AfD logo.

The saying “I Love HTLR” was printed on a companion’s T-shirt, the owner of the “Gewürge Bar” continued. HTLR stands for “Hitler” in the right-wing extremist scene.

A little later, the AfD city councilor shouted the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” instead of “Cheers” directly at the counter, remembers Rocho, who, according to his own statements, served the guests at the counter himself every evening.

He immediately warned the AfD city council and said that such words were unwelcome in his bar. “Shortly afterwards, Escher shouted ‘Sieg Heil’ again. I kicked him out and banned him from the house,” said Rocho.

Another person who also witnessed what happened that evening confirmed his information to FOCUS online.

Escher, who is also an assessor on the AfD regional board of the Sonneberg district and was confronted with the bar owner’s allegations by FOCUS online, left a query from the editorial team unanswered.

Elsewhere he described the claims as “fictitious” and denied ever having shouted “Sieg Heil”, being thrown out of the “Gewürge Bar” and being banned from the house.

It is not the first time that Sonneberg has been the focus of reporting. In 2022, another AfD politician attracted attention with tasteless behavior: Holger Winterstein.

The AfD district council member caused horror in October 2022 when he shared pictures on social media that showed him standing with his arms outstretched on one of the steles of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. He even laughs in some shots.

Even the AfD federal executive board reprimanded Winterstein for this “extremely disrespectful behavior.” Winterstein then resigned as deputy head of the AfD’s Sonneberg regional association, but retained his district council mandate.

• Read also: New series: I’ve had enough, I’m going to the East – “Children no longer talk to their parents about the AfD – for fear of losing them”

The AfD regional association in Thuringia was classified as “certainly right-wing extremist” by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution several years ago. Four days before the local elections and a little more than three months before the state elections in Thuringia, the state association of “Junge Alternative” was also categorized as “certainly right-wing extremist” on Thursday.

Most recently, the Thuringian city of Sonneberg and the district of the same name even made international headlines after Robert Sesselmann, an AfD politician, was elected district administrator in Germany for the first time on June 25, 2023.

The responsible public prosecutor’s office in Meiningen is not yet involved in the case of the AfD city councilor from Sonneberg, as a spokesman explained at the request of FOCUS online on Thursday.

It is currently unclear whether charges will be brought or the proceedings will be discontinued. Until a final conviction is made, all those affected are presumed innocent.