AfD members
AfD membersReuters

German prosecutors on Monday charged a prominent member of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party with using a banned Nazi slogan in an election campaign, AFP reported.

Bjoern Hoecke, the party's regional leader in Thuringia, allegedly used the motto of the Nazi's Stormtroopers SA paramilitary wing, "Everything for Germany", the Halle prosecutor's office said.

Hoecke uttered the phrase in full knowledge of its "origin and meaning" in front of 250 people at a campaign event in 2021, according to prosecutors.

The AfD won 10 percent of the vote in the general election that year.

Hoecke is charged with "the public use of a symbol of a former National Socialist organization".

Prosecutors said he "questioned the criminal relevance of his remark" through his lawyer.

AfD, which was formed in 2013, entered Germany’s national parliament with 12.6% of the vote in 2017, and is currently level in the polls with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats as discontent with the government grows.

The party has a history of controversial statements, particularly surrounding the Holocaust. 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.

AfD chairman Alexander 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.”

In 2015 Hoecke founded the "Fluegel", a radical faction within the AfD, which was placed under formal surveillance by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

The organization subsequently disbanded but Hoecke remains influential within the party.