France’s National Rally cuts ties with AfD, refuses to sit with them in next EU parliament after MEP’s Waffen-SS remarks

The relationship had been fractious for months but came to a head after AfD MEP Max Krah claimed that not all Waffen-SS members were criminals and their guilt should be judged on an individual basis

By Thomas Brooke
6 Min Read

French right-wing group National Rally (RN) will not sit with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the next European Parliament, the French party’s campaign director Alex Loubet confirmed on Tuesday.

“We will no longer sit with them during the next term,” Loubet told French news outlet Libération, suggesting that the French party, which is expected to win big in next month’s European elections, will end its affiliation with the Identity and Democracy (ID) parliamentary group.

It is understood that relations between the two parties further disintegrated over remarks made by AfD lawmaker Maximilian Krah to Italian newspaper La Repubblica in which he appeared to downplay the criminality of Waffen-SS members during World War II.

In an interview on May 18, Krah said the guilt of those aligned with the Nazi Party’s paramilitary organization should be assessed on an individual basis and insisted he would never say “that anyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal.”

“At the end of the war, there were almost a million SS men. (Nobel Prize winner for Literature) Günter Grass was also in the Waffen-SS,” he told the Italian newspaper.

“Many of the 900,000 SS men were farmers. There was certainly a high percentage of war criminals among them, but not all of them,” he added.

Krah doubled down on his comments in a post published on X on Tuesday, writing, “I don’t like Günter Grass, but I don’t think he’s a criminal.”

The comments are understood to have enraged RN’s leadership team, including former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, reigniting a feud between the parties that began in February this year after the German state-funded media outlet Correctiv published a story that claimed the AfD was involved in drawing up “remigration” plans to deport German citizens with a migrant background — an allegation the AfD leadership has consistently denied.

Separate incidents involving Krah’s parliamentary aide being accused of espionage and Krah’s AfD colleague Petr Bystron, who is accused of taking bribes from Russia in exchange for influence, had created further turbulence between the two parties before Krah’s latest remarks.

It should be noted, however, that the investigation into Krah’s parliamentary aide has uncovered significant pitfalls in the conduct of the German establishment, having revealed the suspect had worked for Germany’s domestic intelligence agency for years before being employed by Krah’s office. The agency cut ties with the man after suspecting him of working as a double agent for Chinese intelligence but neglected to tell the AfD politician of its suspicions.

“I found out today that Ms. Le Pen no longer wants to work with the AfD – supposedly because of me,” Krah told attendees at an AfD event on Tuesday in Bavaria.

The friction appeared to have eased somewhat back in February after crisis talks between AfD co-leader Alice Weidel and Marine Le Pen in Paris, with the former posting on X:

“I spoke to Marine Le Pen and (RN President) Jordan Bardella in person today. We discussed many political issues and found that we have the same approaches to solving the major problems of our time.”

RN’s campaign director Alex Loubet said just last month that the party was “not ruling anything out” when it came to working with the AfD in the next parliament, admitting his party’s leadership was remaining “very vigilant” over their position. He insisted the party would not be making any decisions regarding their future relationship until after the June vote.

“There is a presumption of innocence. Talks are underway with AfD executives, and we will therefore advise the day after the European elections on how we maintain relations with this party,” he said.

The stay of execution, however, was short-lived, with the French party calling time on the partnership just two weeks before Europeans head to the polls.

Commenting on the talks between Bardella, Le Pen, and Weidel, Loubet said that “nothing was gleaned from them” and that as a result, they’re now “facing the consequences.”

One option for RN could be to sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group alongside Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS), and the Spanish populist Vox.

Speaking to Remix News, longstanding PiS MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski said the French party “would be welcome in the ECR group.”

The move would go some way to show Le Pen is softening her stance and emulating Meloni to paint herself as a “moderate” ahead of another expected attempt at the French presidency in 2027.

Alternatively, should RN not wish to join the same parliamentary group as fellow French right-wing group Reconquête, led by Éric Zemmour, and stay with ID, the AfD could find itself expelled from the group in the next parliamentary term.

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