The co-leader of a German far-right nationalist party is under scrutiny after dismissing the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop” in the nation’s long history.
Alexander Gauland, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, told the party’s youth movement Saturday that Germans must take responsibility for the 12 years of rule by Adolf Hitler, but claimed it’s only a small part in Germany’s history.
“Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history,” he said, according to dpa news agency. “Only those who acknowledge the part have the power to shape the future.”
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the secretary general of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, slammed Gauland on Twitter, saying that “50 million victims of war, the Holocaust and total war are just bird poop” for Gauland and his party.
She said his comments reveal the true nature of a party hiding behind middle-class respectability.
Katrin Göring-Eckardt of the Greens party called Gauland's comments a slap in the face to Holocaust survivors and their descendants and said they highlight the need to push back against a hate-filled minority.
"Those who say they understand the concerns of AfD voters haven't understood anything," she said.
Marco Buschmann of the Free Democratic Party said politicians who systematically play down the Nazi dictatorship and the Holocaust show how bleak their vision for Germany's future is.
Gauland’s comments were further panned on social media, with one person saying: “Well, that must have been some pretty massive bird with a rather upset stomach.”
Another wrote that Gauland is "just a fly in the current legislature."
Someone else wrote: "The testimony of Alexander #Gauland is so shameful and drastically downplays the events of the Nazi era. He could probably get a tutor for history to freshen up a little bit!"
Hitler and his party ruled Germany from 1933-1945, in later years engineering the genocide of Jews in Europe. Millions of people were persecuted or perished under Nazi rule, including six million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.