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General outside view of the European Parliament building on May 21, 2024 in Strasbourg, France.
CNN  — 

A far-right coalition of parties in the European Parliament has expelled Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party following their leading candidate’s comments about Nazi SS soldiers during World War II.

“The Bureau of the Identity and Democracy Group in the European Parliament has decided today to exclude the German delegation, AfD, with immediate effect,” said the coalition – called the Bureau of the Identity and Democracy Group, or ID Group – in a statement on Thursday.

“The ID Group no longer wants to be associated with the incidents involving Maximilian KRAH, head of the AfD list for the European elections,” it said.

Krah, the AfD’s leading candidate in next month’s European elections, has already been banned from making public appearances by his party, following controversial comments about Nazi SS soldiers in Italian newspaper La Repubblica over the weekend.

In the newspaper interview, Krah is quoted as saying: ”Before I declare someone a criminal, I want to know what he did. Among the 900 thousand SS men, there were also many farmers: there were certainly a high percentage of criminals, but not all of them were. I will never say that anyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal.”

The SS (Schutzstaffel) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hilter, whose primary role was guarding the concentration camps in World War II.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen from her National Rassemblement (RN) Party has also said they would no longer sit in the same parliamentary group as the AfD after next month’s elections.

AfD on Wednesday said that Krah’s controversial statements had caused ”massive damage to the party in the current election campaign, for which the candidate had provided the pretext.”

The statement added that Krah has taken ”full responsibility” for his actions and agreed to step down from the AfD’s federal executive board with immediate effect.

CNN’s James Frater reported from London, Nadine Schmidt and Seb Shukla from Berlin, and Barbie Nadeau from Rome.