It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Gauland, 77, has made the national news. Over the weekend, while addressing a gathering of his party’s youth movement in the eastern state of Thuringia, he made that comment about the Nazi era, which drew widespread condemnation as belittling the Holocaust.
After the bathing episode, which happened last week but was reported only recently, social media users had a field day. “1,000 years of dignity in one image,” read one post on Twitter. “Creative way to resist the far right in Germany,” read another.
But this being Germany, not everyone laughed. “All those who are retweeting the Gauland-in-swimming-shorts photo today and want to defend our basic law and human dignity tomorrow: Please think again,” tweeted Jochen Bittner, a commentator. Some warned that amusing images of the scantily clad leader must not serve as a distraction from his revisionist comments.
“We won’t show the undignified photo of Gauland,” tweeted Ulf Poschardt, the editor of Die Welt, the flagship daily of the Axel Springer media empire.
Mr. Gauland, a former member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats who later co-founded the AfD, is no stranger to controversy. Last year, he said Germans should be “proud” of what their soldiers achieved during the two world wars.