After scandalous statements, the AfD parliamentary group fired its press spokesman Christian Lüth. The party keeps its distance, but years before, accusations of the Hitler salute were apparently no problem.

Long before their parliamentary group’s press spokesman in the Bundestag, Christian Lüth, was fired without notice, the AfD leadership apparently had several indications of a lack of distance from National Socialism. The AfD has apparently not drawn any consequences. Former AfD boss Mrs. Petry tells Chillreport: “Everyone from the current AfD leadership who claims to know nothing about Lüth’s failures and attitudes closed their eyes and ears tightly in 2016.” Lüth rejects the allegations.

On Monday, the group’s board of directors decided to be deported immediately following a TV report. In the documentary “Rechts. Deutsch. Radikal”, ProSieben Lüth showed footage from February that had been filmed undercover during a meeting with an influencer. The station Lüth quoted from Lisa Licencia’s memory transcript on the subject of immigrants moving in: “We can still shoot them all after that, that’s no problem at all, whether they gassed, or whatever you want, I don’t care.” The AfD party leader Alexander Gauland spoke: “The worse things are in Germany, the better for the AfD.”

Lisa Licentia: The influencer who wants to leave the right-wing scene wanted to demonstrate the AfD. She offered ProSieben a meeting with Christian Lüth, who made scandalous statements there. The February recordings have since been broadcast. (Source: Screenshot / ProSieben)

Gauland called the claim that he had “only” talked to Lüth on these subjects or even the statements attributed to Mr. Lüth … was utterly absurd and fictitious. Lüth is considered a close confidant of Gauland.

When did the group erase allegations?

The federal party even stated that it did not want to be associated with such statements. Lüth has not been a party member since August and was not a party spokesman in February, but he was the spokesperson for the faction. Lüth moved there after the 2017 federal election. But there is also a dispute over the group’s reaction. Rhineland-Palatinate state chairman Uwe Junge accuses the Gauland, Alice Weidel, Tino Chrupalla and Beatrix von Storch administration that the allegations had long been known.

Even before Lüth’s move, there were incidents that shed a different light on this aloofness: the party’s top bodies dealt with at least two cases involving Lüth and allegations of Hitler salute during his time as party spokesman. Former party leader Frauke Petry has confirmed this to Chillreport.

In the AfD – even in this day and age – none of the camps often addressed the issue. “Your political opponents sum up everything under the topic of ‘power struggles,'” said Dirk Driesang, a former member of the AfD’s federal executive committee who left the AfD last year.

“Description was disturbing”

When Petry Lüths called for a replacement, it was important to Petry’s opponents that they no longer gain power within the party. Driesang himself said he was satisfied with Lüth’s work from a distance, but voted for replacement in 2016: “The description was solid and completely disturbing at the time.”

By this he means one of two incidents: it is about an evening in the Berlin bar Sky-Lounge on April 6, 2016. In a letter, colorful political adviser Friedel Opitz Petry told of an experience he and a companion had. Weeks later, they presented the trial in a small hotel room to Petry and Albrecht Glaser, member of the federal board of directors, as the two witnesses and Petry unanimously told Chillreport.

It would have gone like this: Opitz didn’t know Lüth, but as a table neighbor they came up with the AfD, which Opitz was sympathetic to. Lüth then pointed with his index and middle fingers at a Hitler mustache and imitated the Hitler salute with an angled right hand. Lüth said there were only right-wing extremists and Nazis in the AfD. Then he identified himself as the AfD’s press spokesperson.

“Hitler’s greetings cannot be excused by ‘satire'”

Petry explains, “Hitler’s greetings are inexcusable through alcohol, nor alleged ‘satire’.” The two witnesses told Chillreport that after the conversation in the hotel room they had thought that Lüth would not be in the office now. Opitz: “My impression was that his appearance not only lacks the distance to National Socialism, but could harm the AfD in the worst possible way.” He also upheld the facts under oath.

Christian Lüth wrote to Chillreport that the accusations were “absurd. There has never been anything like it. It was just part of a smear campaign by Frauke Petry against me.”

According to her information, Petry experienced the first case herself. Lüth had displayed the Hitler salute in a meaty mood at the federal office. She can no longer tell the time. On March 25, 2016, she reported on this in the federal board meeting and demanded his replacement. The rest of the board turned against her, she was now without a press officer.

At the time, Petry did not disclose that she had also accused Lüth of the Hitler salute, but spoke generally of “criticism of his work”. It is an open secret that Lüth Petry opposed. He told Chillreport, the party leader at the time “took every opportunity to slander neutral – that is, non-subordinate – workers in a chilling way.”

Cards on the table? Frauke Petry in a 2015 archive photo with Alexander Gauland and Christian Lüth, then the party's press spokesman. (Source: Image Images)Cards on the table? Frauke Petry in a 2015 archive photo with Alexander Gauland and Christian Lüth, then the party’s press spokesman. (Source: Image Images)

To Petry, Opitz’s letter two weeks later describing the second incident was initially a political gift. But she didn’t prevail in federal administration – even when she brought the topic up again at the AfD’s federal convention.

“Majority tolerance for right-wing extremists”

In a file on Lüth, she informed the nearly 50 representatives of the regional associations and the four other representatives of the federal executive committee in note form about Lüth and also reported on the Hitler salute. But Lüth – who has been responsible for coordinating press work, media and programming in the federal office since November 1, 2013, and has been a press officer since March 2014 – had no problems. Former federal board member Driesang finds the outcome “in hindsight very regrettable”.

Petry says the convention showed her “that Meuthen and Galland, with incompetence and a recognizable tolerance for extremism, were able to win a majority in the AfD,” Petry said. “Since management had decided to cover Lüth despite the known incidents, my options were exhausted at the time.”

In April 2020, it was announced that Lüth had described himself in chats as a “fascist” and had written about his “Aryan heritage”. The parliamentary group released its press spokesman as an employee without duties, he was not fired. But then, according to information from ZDF, in the meantime there were even plans of the fraction to make Lüth the media coordinator. Petry: In politics, important employees are rarely removed, they are at best removed. Usually they know too much. She can only speculate whether this is the case in this case.

The AfD has not yet responded to a request from Chillreport on Tuesday morning.

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