German man leaves €7 million fortune to far-right AfD
An engineer who died in 2018 has donated his entire estate of gold, property and patents to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The endowment is one of the largest ever given to a German political party.
A man who died two years ago left his entire €7 million ($7.5 million) fortune to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the party has confirmed.
A report by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said the man's fortune comprised real estate, gold bars and gold coins. He also owned multiple patents, which were included in the will.
The party later confirmed it had accepted the multi-million dollar gift from the former engineer, having already hinted at a party convention in December of a "very interesting" item sitting in the party's coffers.
Local media reported that the donor lived in a modest apartment in Bückeburg, located in rural Lower Saxony between Hanover and the Ruhr area.
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The reports say man's will listed no other inheritor besides the AfD — a party that, until recently, no other major German party would work with due to its far-right platform.
The public prosecutor's office in Bückeburg told Germany's DPA news agency on Friday that a will was found at the man's house following his death in July 2018.
DPA cited the prosecutor's office saying the document was passed to the probate court for processing.
Co-chairman Alexander Gauland said the German national soccer team's defender Jerome Boateng might be appreciated for his performance on the pitch - but people would not want "someone like Boateng as a neighbor." He also argued Germany should close its borders and said of an image showing a drowned refugee child: "We can't be blackmailed by children's eyes."
Alice Weidel generally plays the role of "voice of reason" for the far-right populists, but she, too, is hardly immune to verbal miscues. Welt newspaper, for instance, published a 2013 memo allegedly from Weidel in which she called German politicians "pigs" and "puppets of the victorious powers in World War II. Weidel initially claimed the mail was fake, but now admits its authenticity.
German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016. Officers must "use firearms if necessary" to "prevent illegal border crossings." Communist East German leader Erich Honecker was the last German politician who condoned shooting at the border.
The head of the AfD in the state of Thuringia made headlines for referring to Berlin's Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame" and calling on the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past. The comments came just as Germany enters an important election year - leading AfD members moved to expel Höcke for his remarks.
Initially, the AfD campaigned against the euro and bailouts - but that quickly turned into anti-immigrant rhetoric. "People who won't accept STOP at our borders are attackers," the European lawmaker said. "And we have to defend ourselves against attackers."
Pretzell, former chairman of the AfD in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and husband to Frauke Petry, wrote "These are Merkel's dead," shortly after news broke of the deadly attack on the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.
The member of parliament in Germany's eastern state of Saxony made waves in early 2016 with an inquiry into how far the state covers the cost of sterilizing unaccompanied refugee minors. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have sought asylum in Germany, according to the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (BumF) — the vast majority of them young men.
Poggenburg, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, has also raised eyebrows with extreme remarks. In February 2017, he urged other lawmakers in the state parliament to join measures against the extreme left-wing in order to "get rid of, once and for all, this rank growth on the German racial corpus" — the latter term clearly derived from Nazi terminology.
During a campaign speech in Eichsfeld in August 2017, AfD election co-candidate Alexander Gauland said that Social Democrat parliamentarian Aydan Özoguz should be "disposed of" back to Anatolia. The German term, "entsorgen," raised obvious parallels to the imprisonment and killings of Jews and prisoners of war under the Nazis.
Gauland was roundly criticized for a speech he made to the AfD's youth wing in June 2018. Acknowledging Germany's responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, he went on to say Germany had a "glorious history and one that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years. Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history."
The Brandenburg state AfD chief admitted in 2019 to attending a 2007 rally in Greece by the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party at which a swastika flag was raised. "Der Spiegel" had published a leaked report by the German embassy in Athens naming him as one of "14 neo-Nazis" who arrived from Germany for the far-right rally. Kalbitz released a statement saying he took part out of "curiosity."
Süddeutsche Zeitung said the sum of the inheritance is by far the largest amount ever given to the party.
The actual worth of the inheritance could have accrued value since 2018, as the value of gold has increased by 20%.
AfD strapped for cash?
The AfD has recently been in dire financial straits in the wake of an ongoing campaign finance scandal. Several of its top-ranking members are accused of violating German campaign finance law by failing to disclose the origin of donations and contributions.
In late 2019, the party issued a call for donations from party members, as it sought to build a war chest to pay the heavy fines it could face.
Read more: AfD scandal: Party sent wrong donor names to German parliament
The AfD's treasurer, Carsten Hütter, said in a statement that the €7-million estate had already been listed in the AfD's 2018 accountability report.
However, Hütter said that at the end of 2019, "it was not yet clear" if the party would be able to dispose of the estate in full, according to Germany's DPA press agency.
Hütter added that the man was not known by AfD functionaries in Lower Saxony to be a supporter or member of the party.