The Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician who was voted out of the party for slamming Berlin's Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame" apologized on Saturday for his controversial remarks, i24news reports.
"I unfortunately turned a big, important issue into a beer hall talk," Bjoern Hoecke was quoted as having said during a meeting at his home state in Thuringia.
"I let myself get carried away by the atmosphere, I allowed room for interpretation. That was a mistake. For that, I would like to apologize here," he added.
In January, Hoecke caused a firestorm when he suggested that Germany should end its decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.
He also criticized the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, saying, "We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world who have planted a monument of shame in the heart of the capital.”
Germany's vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, blasted Hoecke over the remarks, saying, "This is not just some kind of provocation. We must never let this kind of demagoguery be undisputed.”
Germany's Central Council of Jews criticized Hoecke as well and accused him of trampling on the six million Jewish Holocaust victims murdered by the Nazis.
The populist party's executive board voted last Monday in favor of ousting Hoecke from its ranks, but it is still up to an arbitration panel of the Thuringia fraction to decide if indeed he will be expelled from the AfD, noted i24news.
On Saturday Hoecke told party members his expulsion will not go through. He claimed that since he already announced that he will not be running in the national election in September, his comments had no effect on the party and did not violate its rules.
"I have no intention of leaving the AfD, I promise," he told a cheering crowd.