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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Björn Höcke (R), co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the eastern federal state of Thuringia, sits next to his lawyer Ulrich Vosgerau during a break of his trial. Photo by RONNY HARTMANN / POOL / AFP

Court convicts German far-right politician for using Nazi slogan, Brandenburg kitas strike, inflation rate at same level and more news from around Germany.

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Court convicts German far-right politician of using Nazi slogan

A German court has convicted one of the country's most controversial far-right politicians, Björn Höcke, of deliberately using a banned Nazi slogan at a rally.

The court late on Tuesday fined Höcke, 52, of the far-right AfD party, €13,000 for using the phrase "Alles fuer Deutschland" ("Everything for Germany") during a 2021 campaign rally.

Once a motto of the so-called Sturmabteilung paramilitary group that played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power, the phrase is illegal in modern-day Germany, along with the Nazi salute and other slogans and symbols from that era.

The former high school history teacher claimed not to have been aware that the phrase had been used by the Nazis, telling the court he was "completely not guilty".

Höcke said he thought the phrase was an "everyday saying".

But prosecutors argued that Hoecke used the phrase in full knowledge of its "origin and meaning".

They had sought a six-month suspended sentence plus two years' probation, and a payment of 10,000 euros to a charitable organisation.

Höcke, the leader of the AfD in Thuringia, is gunning to become Germany's first far-right state premier when the state holds regional elections in September.

With the court ordering only a fine rather than a jail term, the verdict is not thought to threaten his candidacy at the elections.

EXPLAINED: Could the far-right AfD ever take power in Germany?

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Around 200 Brandenburg kitas strike

Around 200 childcare centres - or kitas - are closed Wednesday for one day around Brandenburg.

The closures are part of a protest by "Kita Collapse" - an organisation protesting current funding arrangements for kitas in the state.

The campaign holds that funding for kitas - which is based on number of children rather than quality of care - is unfair.

The kitas are expected to re-open Thursday.

READ ALSO: Majority of parents with toddlers in Germany 'need a childcare place'

Inflation rate in April at same level as March

Consumer prices in Germany in April were 2.2 percent above the level of the same month last year, according to figures. 

The rate is the same level as the previous month - and it means the decline in inflation since the beginning of the year has come to a halt, according to initial findings by the Federal Statistical Office.

In February the rate of change was 2.5 percent.

"The rate of inflation has been below three percent since the start of the year," said Ruth Brand, President of the Federal Statistical Office.

Energy and food prices, in particular, have had a dampening effect on the inflation rate since January this year. 

"However, core inflation - measured as the change in the consumer price index excluding food and energy - has been higher than overall inflation since the beginning of the year," added Brand. 

Economists expect rates to rise again in the coming months.

Popular food items in Germany displayed in a shopping cart in Neubiberg, Bavaria.

Popular food items in Germany displayed in a shopping cart in Neubiberg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Summer 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years, says study by German researchers 

Last year's northern hemisphere summer was the hottest in 2,000 years, according to a new study published on Tuesday.

Scientists say 2023 was the hottest year globally since records began in 1850, but the study in the journal Nature indicates human-caused climate change pushed northern summer highs well beyond anything seen in two millennia.

"We shouldn't be surprised," the study's lead author Jan Esper told AFP.

"For me it's just the continuation of what we started by releasing greenhouse gases" that cause global warming, said Esper, a professor of climatology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.

Scientists used tree-ring data from sites across the northern hemisphere to estimate global temperatures between the first century AD and 1850, before the advent of modern observational instruments.

The conservative estimate found that 2023 was at least 0.5C hotter than the warmest northern hemisphere summer of that period in 246 AD. Otherwise, it was 1.19C warmer.

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Merkel's memoir to be released November

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel has released more details about her upcoming memoir. 

The Christian Democrat's new book titled 'Freedom: Memories 1954-2021' will become available on November 26th this year. 

Merkel's long-time political advisor Beate Baumann is co-author of the book, which will chronicle the political stalwart's early life and career in East Germany, as well as her time in the modern day Federal Republic – including her 16 years as chancellor of Germany as well as her time as head of the CDU party. 

READ ALSO: Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel to release memoir in November

Scholz tempers expectations for Ukraine peace summit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday said a Ukraine war peace summit being hosted by Switzerland next month was unlikely to bring an end to the conflict.

"At best, it is the start of a process that could lead to direct talks between Ukraine and Russia," Scholz said in an interview with the German weekly Stern.

The June summit would discuss "the safety of nuclear power plants, grain exports, prisoner exchanges" and the risk of a nuclear escalation, Scholz said.

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But the chancellor warned that "nobody should have excessive expectations", adding: "We are not negotiating the end of the war".

He likened the talks to a "delicate little flower".

Switzerland has invited more than 160 delegations to the peace conference, although Russia is not currently on the list.

Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022, has dismissed the Lucerne event as a US-orchestrated plot.

Moscow has repeatedly said it will not participate in any talks unless Kyiv accepts Russia's annexation of the roughly 20 percent of Ukraine's territory it currently occupies.

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