One of Hungary's leading rabbis has apologized for saying that Chancellor Angela Merkel was the highest-ranking German official to visit Budapest's Dohany Street Synagogue since Adolf Eichmann, one of the Nazi officials who organized the Holocaust.

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities said Thursday that Andras Heisler's comments in the weekly Hetek magazine had only meant to illustrate "what a long historical way Germany has come from the Holocaust to the present."

In the interview, Heisler also mentioned that Monday's meeting between Merkel and leaders of Hungary's Jewish groups took place in the room "from where Eichmann issued his deadly orders."

More than 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.