German authorities are investigating a video showing a man in neo-Nazi clothing handing balloons to kindergartners a day after the country’s main far-right party won control of a county administration
BERLIN — German authorities are investigating a video showing a man in neo-Nazi clothing handing balloons to kindergartners a day after the country’s main far-right party won control of a county administration.
The video was taken Monday in front of a kindergarten in Sonneberg county, according to regional lawmaker Katharina Koenig-Preuss of the Left party.
The video, which was posted on social media Tuesday and could not immediately be independently verified, shows a man in a T-shirt depicting a Nazi-era soldier and the words “Wehrmacht wieder mit?” on the back. The phrase is a play on words that roughly translates as “Who’s going to join again?”
The man is also wearing red, white and black shorts — colors that are usually associated with the German Reich — as he takes blue balloons from his car and hands them to excited children on the other side of a fence. The car bears the words “volunteer deportation helper” on the back, and one of the balloons in the car appears to have the swoosh logo of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party. Blue is the party’s signature color.
The party’s candidate won a run-off election Sunday for Sonneberg county commissioner. It was the first time Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has taken charge of the executive at a county level, prompting concerns about a rise in voter support for far-right ideology in a country still grappling with its Nazi past.
Police in Thuringia, the state where Sonneberg is located, said they were investigating whether the man’s overall appearance could constitute an administrative infraction.
There is no indication that the man was acting on behalf of Alternative for Germany.
The education minister of Thuringia sharply condemned the incident.
“The fact that a neo-Nazi apparently targets our youngest children without being asked and takes aim at kindergarten children is a serious assault,” Helmut Holter tweeted Tuesday.
Holter added that as a future district administrator, Robert Sesselmann, the newly elected AfD official, “bears responsibility for safe kindergarten care in the Sonneberg district on the basis of the Basic Law” — as Germany’s constitution is called.