AfD visitor group disrupts guided tour at Nazi concentration camp
Oranienburg – Guests of Alternative for Germany (AfD) faction leader Alice Weidel have disrupted a guided tour at the former Nazi concentration camp and holocaust memorial in Sachsenshausen, a spokesperson for the federal government confirmed on Friday.
The spokesperson told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that a member of a group of 17 visitors invited by Weidel from her electoral district had made “antisemitic and historically untenable statements” during the tour of the camp near Berlin back in July.
The visit was paid for with public funds from the Federal Press Office, a right accorded to all parliamentary delegates in Germany who wish to bring politically-interested constituents to the national capital and its surrounding regions.
Earlier, Tagesspiegel had cited Horst Seferens, the spokesperson for the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation which is responsible for the site, who complained about “permanent interruptions and disruptions” by several members of the AfD visitor group which eventually led to the cancellation of the tour. Seferens said that “manifestly far-right and historically-revisionist attitudes” were showcased during the incident which has sparked a criminal investigation by the Brandenburg state police as of Thursday night.
Although Seferens noted that the individuals in question “purposefully avoided” statements which would have been in obvious breach of Germany’s strict laws on “National Socialist re-activation” in the country, repeated attempts were still made to downplay the suffering of inmates in the concentration camp. Several appeals by the professional guide to refrain from disturbing the tour were ignored.
Commenting on the incident on Friday, the federal government spokesperson highlighted that it was up to the independent operators of the memorial site whether or not to change its admittance policies for parliamentary visitor groups in the future. Seferens said in conversation with Tagesspiegel that the former Sachsenhausen camp was not just a place for reflection but “also a real cemetery” which contained the mortal remains of tens of thousands of victims of the Nazi regime from all over Europe.
“We cannot tolerate that visitors attempt to use the memorial site for their revisionist propaganda, and will resolutely make use of our right to deny entry to certain individuals,” he added.
In the meanwhile, Weidel has expressed surprise at the reports. A spokesperson for the parliamentary delegate told Taggesspiegel she had not been present at the tour, and that her office had not been informed by government authorities about the incident.