AfD party members
AfD party membersReuters

Germany's far-right AfD party said on Sunday it had suspended a longtime spokesman after he reportedly described himself as a fascist and praised his "Aryan grandfather", AFP reported.

The Die Zeit newspaper wrote that Christian Lueth was relieved of his duties at the request of senior party figure Alexander Gauland following an internal review.

"He has been suspended," a spokesman for the AfD's parliamentary group confirmed to AFP.

Lueth had allegedly "repeatedly described himself as a fascist and referred to his grandfather's Aryan lineage", the paper wrote in its online edition, citing party sources.

Lueth's grandfather was a submarine commander during World War II and received an Iron Cross from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the newspaper said.

AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla confirmed the suspension to Der Spiegel weekly, but declined to comment on the reason for it.

Spiegel said Lueth had not been officially sacked yet, "but it doesn't look good".

Lueth, 43, has been with the party since its early days in 2013 and had cultivated close ties to top party figures like Gauland.

He had started out as an AfD spokesperson before becoming the main spokesman for its parliamentary group when the party entered the national Bundestag in 2017, according to AFP.

AfD has a history of controversial statements, particularly surrounding the Holocaust. Party member Bjoern Hoecke caused a firestorm in February of 2017 when he suggested that Germany should end its decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

Gauland in 2018 described the Nazi period as a mere "speck of bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history".

He had previously asserted, however, that Jews should not fear the strong election showing by AfD and indicated that he was ready to meet with German Jewish leaders “at any time.”

The AfD, which is the third largest party in the Bundestag, made large gains in two state elections in September of 2019.

More recently, German lawmakers stripped AfD member Stephan Brandner of his membership in the Legal Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, after he made anti-Semitic and racist comments.