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In Have any prominent politicians in the West called for Ukraine to surrender territory to Russia? user @o.m. states that:

He is a member of the German parliament for the AfD, a nazi party. (Some comments questioned the characterization. So did leading AfD members, who sued for defamation and failed.) Also a prominent member of the opposition.

In comments the following lawsuit is quoted as the basis of this claim:

A German court on Wednesday rejected a request by a leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for an interim injunction against the re-airing of a television program in which the moderator called her a “Nazi b***h.”

The Hamburg District Court ruled that satire was secured by the right to freedom of expression, and as a public figure, senior AfD member Alice Weidel must “put up with exaggerated criticism”, the court said in a statement.

The broadcaster NDR’s “extra 3” satire program on April 27 aired a section of Weidel’s speech to her party congress a week earlier in which she had railed against political correctness.

However its not clear if the court actually believes AfD to be a "Nazi party" or if it merely allowed that particular phrase to be used in a satirical context. Have there been other lawsuits in Germany which affirmed that AfD is indeed a "Nazi party"? As a corollary, have there been lawsuits where other parties were called Nazi and the courts ruled that using such words against them is unacceptable?

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  • Nazi party is probably not an official term in Germany. And why would a court actually care about such a thing? In this case it was probably to do with libel, but that doesn't mean that AfD would or wouldn't be a Nazi party (whatever that is). It's quite on the right spectrum and parts of it may overlap with more extreme views or organizations. Jul 18, 2022 at 21:23
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    @Trilarion I would guess any party that fulfills the definition of Nazism could be claimed to be a "Nazi party". I want to understand if German courts simply state that using the word Nazi against any party is protected by free speech rules or if AfD specifically is singled out as an acceptable party to call Nazi. Jul 18, 2022 at 21:26
  • It may be something special, artistic works like the one here enjoy additional privileges. On the other hand you may not need additional lawsuits. Just try to get the official justification of this lawsuit. From the reasoning it should become clear if this applies only to this party or in general. Jul 18, 2022 at 21:30
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    A better Q that you might want to ask on Law SE is if parties (as opposed to individuals) can sue for defamation in Germany. In a number of Anglo-Saxon countries, political parties or even big corporations cannot sue for defamation lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch16s01s01.php Jul 19, 2022 at 6:11
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    The only thing the court determined here is that the damage to Alice Weidel was not so urgent and irrevocable that an injunction was justified. There was no ruling on the merits, so the argument is wrong from the start. Jul 19, 2022 at 10:38

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There is no official term "Nazi party" in Germany. A right-wing party can be a "subject of extended investigation to verify a suspicion" if it has far-right tendencies. The AfD is such a case [1]:

1. The claim filed by AfD to stop BfV from classifying it as a ‘Verdachtsfall’ (subject of extended investigation to verify a suspicion) and investigating it based on that definition as well as from publicising a classification to that effect or the fact that it is being investigated (13 K 326/21) was dismissed.
The court found in its oral statement of the reasons for the judgement that there were sufficient indications of anti-constitutional endeavours within the party. This had been documented by BfV, according to the court, in pertinent reports and the related collections of material by “contextualising the statements considered relevant”. As stated by the court, BfV’s assessment was based on an overall view that was not objected to. The party was in the middle of an internal dispute about its future course, in which the anti-constitutional forces might prevail in the end. BfV will also be allowed to publicise AfD’s classification as a ‘Verdachtsfall’ in order to make a political discussion possible.

A right-wing party can also be called a "(subject with) extremist endeavour as corroborated by hard evidence". If that's the case, then the party has anti-constitutional, extremist endeavours and basically poses a threat to the German democracy. The AfD as a whole is not such a case (yet) [1]:

3. The claim filed by AfD to stop BfV from classifying the AfD faction known as ‘Der Flügel’ as a ‘Verdachtsfall’ (subject of extended investigation to verify a suspicion) and/or a ‘gesichert extremistische Bestrebung’ (extremist endeavour as corroborated by hard evidence) and investigating it based on that definition as well as from publicising a classification to that effect or the fact that it is being investigated (13 K 207/20) was admitted in part.
The court has ruled that BfV was allowed to classify the AfD faction referred to as ‘Der Flügel’ as a ‘Verdachtsfall’. Its classification as a ‘gesichert extremistische Bestrebung’ is today, after its formal dissolution, not permissible, as found by the court.

If a right-wing party is evidently a "Nazi party", then it can get banned, thus not be a party, in Germany. One of the most prominent parties in that direction is the NPD, which, however, is not banned as it has not enough political power to pose a threat to the German democracy according to a German court in 2017 [2].

Calling someone a "Nazi" or "Nazi bitch" or whatever is – depending on the case – secured by the freedom of speech, but you can also get sued if it is seen as an insult or defamation. Calling a party as a whole a "Nazi party" can be prohibited.

[1] Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz wins lawsuit before the Administrative Court in Cologne against AfD
[2] Debatten um NPD-Verbot und Parteienfinanzierung

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  • It seems this (2022 event) was the 3rd such attempt to put the AfD under surveillance. The pervious two failed after being challenged in court, although 3rd time was the charm... reuters.com/world/europe/… Jul 19, 2022 at 5:29
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    Earlier article on the (failed ban on the) NPD mentions that only 2 parties had been banned "the Socialist Reich Party, a successor to Hitler’s Nazis, in 1952, and the Communist Party in 1956". Jul 19, 2022 at 5:42
  • Your point about a Nazi party likely being banned is a bit weakened by the one example being a Nazi party that wasn't banned. And it's not the only example, see also REP, Die Rechte, Neue Stärke Partei, UAP (and yes, the AfD). Counter-examples which were banned might be the SRP, Nationalistische Front, or Nationale Offensive. But it's definitely not as simple as saying a Nazi party couldn't legally exist in Germany, because they have - and do - exist.
    – tim
    Jul 19, 2022 at 8:22
  • Also note that the classification as "gesichert extremistische Bestrebung" of Der Flügel was only rejected for procedural reasons, not factual ones (it wasn't possible, as it was "dissolved" as a precaution against being considered "gesichert extremistisch" (the members are of course still active in the AfD)); but the BfV did officially consider it as such.
    – tim
    Jul 19, 2022 at 9:58
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    In what way could calling someone a "Nazi bitch" not be an insult? Jul 19, 2022 at 12:18
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This was about a specific case. A public television program had called Alice Weidel a "Nazi-Schlampe" (which is here translated as Nazi bitch). The court explicitly referred to the context at hand - Weidel had clamoured for an end to "political correctness", and the TV host had replied with the most political uncorrect phrase he could come up with.

Alice Weidel had previously been called a "Nazi pig" on Facebook and sued successfully for libel, and has been called (literally) a "Nazi bitch" by German rapper Farid Bang, who retracted and apologized after she threatened him with legal measures. This should already show that this was about a specific case.

This is related to the AFD only insofar as the judge said it would be understandable to the audience that she is called a "Nazi" due to her AfD membership. That does not mean that the judge said the AfD was a Nazi party - they said that "Nazi party" would be understandable as satirical exaggeration of "extreme right wing party" (AfD is considered at least borderline extremist, but it seems the judge said that it would be evident to the viewer that Weidel is not literally a supporter of Nazi ideology).

its not clear if the court actually believes AfD to be a "Nazi party"

Any legal procedure negotiating the word "Nazi party" would always be about free speech/artistic expression (since the possible crime that this colloquially refers to is not called "being a Nazi party"). A relatively low district court would probably not try to determine if a party is actively engaged in overthrowing the constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany (also any German judge would be offended if you suggested he based his rulings on "beliefs").

if it merely allowed that particular phrase to be used in a satirical context.

Yes. Since German law is not based on precedent, a court always adjudicates a specific case (unless there is a decision by a higher court), so the court just ruled that in this specific instance the phrase was not grounds for an injunction.

Finally, this was not even a ruling in a lawsuit. Alice Weidel wanted to ban the phrase via an preliminary injunction. Since the judge rejected this, the actual lawsuit did not happen.

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  • But the injunction said that something which would ordinarily be an actionable insult was not actionable, in this specific, and part of the reason was the "extreme right nature" of the party. I read that as being an actionable insult for a less extreme right party. Which is a convoluted way of saying that the AfD is so far right that they cannot always complain about being called a Nazi party ...
    – o.m.
    Jul 21, 2022 at 3:30
  • @o.m., yes, that's probably relevant. I am more on the left side of things, so the difference between "right wing" and "extreme right wing" sometimes eludes me, but this was certainly not a blanket permission to call parties you don't like "Nazi parties". I will add the "extremist" qualifier. Jul 21, 2022 at 10:09
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This seems to be a complicated question, there is no oficial confirmation and deniel as well acording to this article:

Are AfD members "all Nazis" according to court order?

The Offenburg district court refused to carry out criminal proceedings against a Green politician who had called an AfD colleague a “Nazi” during the election campaign. "Journalistenwatch" now writes that according to the court, AfD members are "all Nazis".

The various court justifications show that the individual case decides when the term "Nazi" may be used against a person and when not.

On December 23, 2017, "Journalistenwatch" published an article entitled: "Court confirms: AfD members are now officially "all" Nazis!". The text is currently being shared again on Facebook.

"Journalistenwatch" commented on an article by "Focus" according to which the Offenburg district court had refused to conduct criminal proceedings for insult against a member of the "Bündnis 90/Die Grünen" (Greens) party. The Greens politician is said to have described a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) as a "Nazi" at a campaign event for the state elections in Baden-Württemberg.

The article from "Journalistenwatch" is marked as "opinion" - the statement in the title is a clear exaggeration of the reasoning of the Offenburg district court not to initiate specific criminal proceedings. Based on the press release from the district court, CORRECTIV explains the reasons for this decision.

The Offenburg case was also not the first in which an AfD politician had filed a complaint after being labeled a "Nazi". In two cases there were court proceedings - CORRECTIV has made itself aware of the reasons for the judgement. Designation covered by freedom of speech

According to the Offenburg district court, a conviction of the Greens member for insult is not to be expected - therefore no criminal proceedings would be initiated. The reason: Although the designation as "Nazi" would be a disregard for the AfD member, which would constitute an insult - this is covered by freedom of expression.

There would also not be a case of "abusive criticism" - especially since the term "Nazi" would also be used in everyday language as a mere, albeit harsh, designation for a politically right-wing attitude. Criticism of party, not of individual

There would be a lot to suggest that the designation as "Nazi" was an "objective, albeit harsh criticism" of the AfD party, less a disparagement of the individual AfD member. According to his own statement, the Greens politician wanted to differentiate himself from the AfD party with this statement - among other things because of the toleration of right-wing extremist party members while at the same time claiming the middle-class.

This would be supported by the fact that the statements were made in the context of the public state election campaign and the parties involved had previously been completely unknown. Lawsuit by AfD top candidate Weidel dismissed

Similar cases were brought before the district court of Hamburg and the district court of Potsdam.

For example, AfD top candidate Alice Weidel sued the NDR satirical magazine "extra3" because of the term "Nazi bitch". The district court of Hamburg also dismissed the lawsuit. This emerges from a press release.

The reason: The controversial statement was made "in a clearly recognizable satirical manner", which is covered in the context of freedom of expression. In the specific case, the viewer understands the term "Nazi" as a gross exaggeration, but does not therefore assume that the applicant is a supporter of Nazi ideology. Fine for "Nazi" insults against AfD politicians

A judgment by the Potsdam district court was different. According to an article in the "Potsdamer Latest News", AfD member of parliament Steffen Königer was called a "Nazi" by a 31-year-old at his polling station. The judge convicted the accused of insult and imposed a fine.

On request, the Potsdam district court pointed out that "the accused only had an argument with Mr. Königer and that the insulting statements only referred to Mr. Königer".

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    That article is from 2018 so it misses a bunch of developments. Jul 19, 2022 at 5:02
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    The article quoted in this answer mentions "Journalistenwatch" a lot. For context, it should be pointed out that it is not a reliable source. It's a blog with the explicit goal to agitate against any negative reporting about right-wing organizations.
    – Philipp
    Jul 19, 2022 at 7:54
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    @Philipp This article is not from Journalistenwatch.
    – convert
    Jul 19, 2022 at 10:21
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    @convert I know, but it is an article about Journalistenwatch. So providing that context is relevant.
    – Philipp
    Jul 19, 2022 at 10:25

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