Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has likened Jewish suffering in Hitler's Germany to what his family feels about his judicial woes, triggering criticism from Italian politicians and Jewish leaders that he is trivializing the Holocaust.

Looming for Berlusconi is a ban on holding public office because of a tax fraud conviction. Berlusconi said his adult children tell him they feel like the Jewish families must have felt like in Hitler's Germany, quoting them as saying "everyone's on top of us." The center-right leader made the comment to Italian journalist Bruno Vespa for a soon-to-be-published book, advance excerpts of which were made public Wednesday.

Riccardo Pacifici, an Italian Jewish leader, said the comparison "astonished" him. A left-wing leader, Nichi Vendola, says it is "horrifying" that Berlusconi trivialized a tragedy like the Holocaust.