The nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is using the “tactics of fascism” and “belongs on the dunghill of history”, rival MPs charged on Wednesday as they rounded on the party in parliament after weeks of simmering tensions over far-Right protests.
Alexander Gauland, the AfD leader, tried to use a budget debate to criticise Angela Merkel’s handling of riots which followed the suspected killing of a man by migrants in the east German city of Chemnitz.
But instead he and his party came under the most sustained attack from their rivals since becoming the first nationalists to sit in the German parliament since the sixties.
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At one point the AfD’s 94 MPs staged a mass walk-out after coming under a steady barrage of criticism.
In an impassioned and uncharacteristic outburst, Martin Schulz, the former leader of the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD), rounded on remarks by Mr Gauland a few months ago in which the AfD leader described the crimes of the Nazis were “a speck of birds*** in 1,000 glorious years of German history”.
“Well, Mr Gauland, the quantity of birds*** amounts to a dunghill, and you belong on the dunghill of German history,” Mr Schulz said.
Comparing the AfD’s rhetoric against migrants directly with that of the Nazis, Mr Schulz accused the party of seeking to make migrants into scapegoats for all of Germany’s problems.
“The reduction of complex issues to a single group of people is the classic tactic of fascism. This has happened before in this house. It’s time for democrats to stand up and fight back,” the former SPD leader said to a standing ovation from fellow MPs.
Earlier, Mr Gauland had accused Mrs Merkel of causing far-Right protests in Chemnitz with her migrant policy.
“The internal peace of our country is endangered and a rift goes through our society,” he said.
The AfD leader distanced himself from neo-Nazis who were filmed giving the Hitler salute but claimed they were a minority and that most of the protestors were “ordinary citizens”.
He accused Mrs Merkel of spreading “fake news” when she spoke of foreigners being attacked during the protests, despite video footage which appears to confirm the claim.
Mrs Merkel told the house she understood people’s anger, but refused to back down.
“There is no excuse and no justification for hate speech, Nazi slogans or assaults on people who look different,” she said.