At the historic Spandau Citadel in the west of Berlin a fortnight before German voters go to the polls on 24 September, Farage, the MEP for South East England, was greeted with huge applause by hundreds of people.
The ex-UKIP leader, a speaker at the event for the German anti-immigration party, was invited by MEP Beatrix von Storch, deputy chief of the Alternative for Germany party. Both serve in the same European Parliamentary group.
Farage, 53, described the 46-year-old Von Storch as a “decent” person, adding: “We have strong, shared, similar values.” He said German leader Angela Merkel and challenger Martin Schulz had failed to discuss Brexit in their campaigns because it was a “huge embarrassment” for them.
Farage expressed his “amazement” that Brexit had not been an issue in the German election debate, adding that Germany, the “strongest and most powerful” country in the EU, had “generous taxpayers” making the biggest contribution to the EU budget.
“With two weeks to go, I would urge Beatrix [von Storch] and others to challenge these people and make of Brexit a debate that matters. You have an opportunity to do well out of this, and you also have an opportunity to do something better and greater for the people of Germany,” he said.
“Once you have the opportunity, once you have the space to challenge the establishment, to challenge the status quo, you have the opportunity to make the country think and that is an opportunity but also a responsibility,” Farage told the audience.
“Once you are able to speak the unspeakable, people will begin to think the unthinkable and that is how you beat the establishment.”
Farage called Angela Merkel’s decision to keep Germany’s borders open at the height of the 2015 migrant crisis as the “worst decision by any leader in modern political history” and called the Social Democrat candidate, Martin Schulz, “a fanatic”.
The AfD is campaigning for a referendum on leaving the eurozone, and a separate referendum on leaving the European Union unless the bloc returns to the “loose federation” it was in 1957. The party was in fact founded by a group of German economists in early 2013, largely in protest against bailout payments to Greece during the eurozone crisis.
Farage also noted that: “Merkel needs to know that unless she tells Brussels to come to a common-sense accommodation, then she will be putting the interests of Brussels above the interests of common people.”
The AfD hailed Farage as an inspiration for all anti-EU politicians. Introducing her fellow MEP, she said: “Nigel Farage showed the impossible is possible if you believe in it and fight this fight.
“He did that for more than two decades… [he is] a role model for us.” The AfD is set to enter Germany’s national parliament for the first time in elections this month.
Farage was asked whether he condoned Björn Höcke’s comments. The leader in the state of Thuringia, Höcke, said during a speech in a Dresden beer hall Germany’s culture guilt for WW2 should take a “180-degree turn”.
The former Ukip leader said he attended the rally on a “personal level” as a friend of Von Storch and denied rumours that he had applied for German citizenship in the wake of last year’s referendum. “I can put it beyond doubt that I have not applied for German citizenship,” he said. Farage has a German wife.
A small crowd of 10 vocal leftist protesters outside the venue, chanted death threats: “Nigel Farage and AfD, we’ll throw you all into the Spree”.
Von Storch is the granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister. Her grandfather was Lutz von Krosigk, who served as a member of the Nazi cabinet.
Von Storch has called for guards to use firearms to deter illegal immigrants. Elected as an MEP in 2014, she joined Europe for Freedom and Democracy, chaired by Farage in April last year, after the European Conservatives and Reformists Group kicked her out as a result of her remarks. She later called the remarks a “mistake”.
On May 6, 2010 Nigel Farage, at the time a UK Independence Party candidate, had an extraordinary escape after his small plane crashed. Many of his supporters still believe it may have been an assassination attempt.
The AfD has seen its popularity grow because of rising anti-refugee sentiment as a result of Merkel’s open-door migrant policy. It is set to become the third largest force in German politics.