German nationalist criticized for Hitler plot post

In this Oct. 10, 2017 photo Lars Steinke, head of the Lower Saxony state youth wing of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, walks down a street in Osterode, Germany. The nationalist Alternative for Germany party is distancing itself from Steinke who reportedly described Stauffenberg as a "traitor" a leader of a failed 1944 attempt by officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. (Swen Pfoertner/dpa via AP, file)

The nationalist Alternative for Germany party is distancing itself from a member who reportedly described a leader of a failed 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler as a "traitor."

BERLIN — The nationalist Alternative for Germany party distanced itself on Thursday from a member who reportedly described as a "traitor" a leader of a failed 1944 attempt by military officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

The daily Die Welt reported that Lars Steinke, head of the party's youth wing in Lower Saxony state, said he posted the comment on his private Facebook page July 29. It said Steinke's post assailed the conspiracy's best-known figure, Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, and described the plot as "a coward's shameful attempt to save his own skin from the oncoming victor."

Stauffenberg and three others were executed shortly after their July 20, 1944 plan to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb failed. The conspirators, among the most prominent examples of German resistance against the Nazis, are now honored annually on the anniversary of the assassination attempt.

According to Die Welt, Steinke argued that "the war was — contrary to today's propaganda — not a war primarily against Hitler, but against Germany and the German people," and that Stauffenberg was "no hero."

Alternative for Germany co-leader Joerg Meuthen said Steinke's comments "are completely unacceptable, show an absurd understanding of history and have absolutely no place" in the party. He said leaders of the party, known by its German acronym AfD, will consider the matter next week.

"Stauffenberg is a hero of German history," said fellow leader Alexander Gauland. "Steinke has disqualified himself from AfD. He should be expelled."

AfD won 12.6 percent of the vote to enter the German parliament last year on anti-migrant and anti-establishment sentiment. Questionable comments about the Nazi era by prominent members, and the leadership's handling of them, have been a recurring issue for the party.

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