Germany: Merkel's party expels member over banned Nazi-era phrase

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 Jens Schlueter/Getty Images]

The CDU's regional branch leaders in Saxony-Anhalt confirmed they had seen the chat message [File: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images]

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) have voted to expel a party member after he was found to have used a Nazi-era phrase banned in Germany.

The unanimous move came on Friday, four years after the former member signed off a chat message in 2016 with the words "Sieg Heil", German for "hail victory", a chant used at Nazi rallies.

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Using the phrase is illegal in modern Germany and can result in fines and other punishments.

The centre-right CDU's regional branch leaders in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt confirmed they had seen the note.

The branch leadership voted unanimously to expel the member on Friday, it said in a statement.

The man, whose name is known but will not be identified, then left the party on his own initiative, the statement said.

The incident

The vote followed the publication of a blog post on a website titled "Saxony-Anhalt Right-Wing Extremists" reproducing chat histories connecting the man with a far-right group.

The former member is said to have congratulated another member of the group with the words: "Congratulations and Sieg Heil, Captain!"

"Such statements are not tolerable within the CDU," said regional party chairman Holger Stahlknecht in a statement.

SOURCE: News agencies

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