BERLIN (JTA) — The far-right Alternative for Germany party has launched an effort to expel a legislator that has caused a rift in the party with his anti-Semitic writings.
Wolfgang Gedeon in recent years has referred to the Holocaust as a “civil religion of the West” and Holocaust deniers as “dissidents.” He also called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin “a memorial to certain crimes.”
His writings on the Holocaust and Jews have revealed a deep split in the party, known as AfD, pitting opponents led by the anti-immigrant party’s federal spokesman, Jörg Meuthen, against those who have appeared to protect him, led by party co-leader Frauke Petry.
For now, the two factions apparently have agreed to work together.
Meuthen, who also heads the party’s 23-member faction in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament — to which Gedeon was elected in March — launched the process of removing Gedeon from the party on Tuesday evening after a group of breakaway party members voted to do so, according to news reports.
Meuthen sent an open letter to AfD members explaining his decision to push for Gedeon’s expulsion. In the letter, which reportedly was signed by all 13 members of the breakaway faction, Meuthen said it was out of the question for him and his supporters to work with those who had backed Gedeon.
Two opposition mainstream parties, the Social Democratic Party, or SPD, and the Christian Democratic Union or CDU, have renewed calls for the AfD party to be placed under surveillance by the German intelligence services over Gedeon’s writings, which they deem to be anti-Semitic.
Recent polls show AfD has lost popularity over the brouhaha.