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German government calls Berlusconi's concentration camp claim 'absurd'

The German government has dismissed as "absurd" former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's claim that Germans deny that Nazi-run concentration camps ever existed.

At a party rally over the weekend, Berlusconi said Germans believe "concentration camps never existed."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday that "the claims that were made are so absurd that the government won't comment on them."

Germany holds annual memorial events for all victims of the Holocaust, and history lessons place a heavy emphasis on the crimes committed by Germans against Jews and other minorities during the Nazi period.

On Saturday, some 2,000 people turned out in Berlin to block a protest by the far-right National Democratic Party, which has never polled above the 5 percent threshold to get into parliament.