AFD chief reprimanded for downplaying Nazis in German history

(Note language that may cause offense in paragraphs 2, 9 and 11)

FILE PHOTO: Leader of the German anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Alexander Gauland speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/ File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) – German politicians have reprimanded the co-leader of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party after he made comments to his party that appeared to downplay the Nazis’ importance in the history of Germany. Germany.

“Hitler and the National Socialists are just bird shit in 1,000 years of successful German history,” AfD lawmaker Alexander Gauland told a party rally in eastern Germany. Thuringia, according to a tweet from his party spokesperson.

The comments were also picked up by German newspapers, such as Der Spiegel, with reports of the event.

Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democrats (SPD), criticized Gauland for trivializing the Nazis. “It’s a shame that such figures sit in parliament,” he said.

Gauland was elected co-leader of the AfD in December, three months after the party became the third largest party in the lower house of the Bundestag.

The Nazi dictatorship remains a very sensitive issue in Germany, more than seven decades after its defeat.

Germany built its post-World War II identity on the principle of keeping alive the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and on a commitment to Israel’s right to exist.

“Our German history has shown that Nazism, hatred and incitement lead to the abyss,” said Katrin Goering-Eckardt of the Greens party, describing Gauland’s remarks as “an incredible blow especially in the face of survivors of the Nazis.” ‘Holocaust, to their descendants and relatives.

Hours after the speech, AfD spokesman Christian Lueth sent another tweet, this time with a black-and-white photo of an angry-looking Hitler with his fist raised in the air. , and the caption: “By the way, I find the idea of ​​comparing #Hitler to bird shit quite charming.

The AfD drew support from voters unhappy with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to take in around one million asylum seekers.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and a close ally of Merkel, tweeted: “50 million war dead, the Holocaust and total war is just ‘bird shit’ for the AfD and Gauland!

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Edmund Blair