Logo of youth wing of Germany’s AfD ‘resembles insignia of early Nazi storm troopers’ 

The nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has been plunged in fresh controversy over similarities between its youth wing’s logo and the insignia of the early Nazi storm troopers who helped propel Hitler to power.

The emblem of the Young Alternative (JA) is strikingly reminiscent of that used by the Sturmabteilung (SA), the notorious brownshirts who were the original spearhead of the Nazi movement.

“This is neither satire, nor coincidence, nor stupidity, nor provocation,” Jan Böhmermann, one of Germany’s best known comedians, who first pointed out the resemblance, wrote on Twitter. “There’s no need for an explanation, it means exactly what it appears to.”

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The latest row comes days after Alexander Gauland, the AfD leader, was accused of trivialising the Holocaust when he described the Nazis as “a speck of birds*** in 1,000 years of glorious German history” at a meeting with the youth wing.

The Young Alternative denied the similarity was intentional and accused Mr Böhmermann of “peddling a hare-brained conspiracy theory”.

“The member who designed the logo at the time is no longer a member of the Young Alternative,” a spokesman said.

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But the comedian won the backing of Prof Michael Wolffsohn, one of Germany’s most distinguished historians, who said: “Anyone can immediately spot the obviously intentional similarity. The small differences are there to avoid legal consequences.” It is illegal to display Nazi emblems or insignia in Germany.

Prof Wolffsohn, whose parents were German Jews who fled the Nazis in 1939, has previously spoken out against the AfD, accusing the party of “systematic far-Right provocation”.

“It’s about time Merkel and co took on Gauland and co, for example through lawsuits,” he told Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

The brownshirts of the SA were the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi party who attacked rival party meetings and terrorised Jews.

At their height in the early 1930s they numbered 400,000 but Hitler saw their leader Ernst Röhm as a rival and 1934’s bloody Night of the Long Knives he sidelined them in favour of the SS.

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