BERLIN — The co-leader of the far-right nationalist Alternative for Germany party dismissed the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history,” triggering an uproar on social media Saturday.
The dpa news agency said Alexander Gauland told the party’s youth movement that Germans must take responsibility for 12 years of rule by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party, but claimed it’s only a small part of Germany’s history.
“Yes, we plead guilty to our responsibility for the 12 years” of Nazi rule, he said.
But “we have a glorious history and one, my dear friends, that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years,” Gauland said.
“Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird poop in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”
Gauland has repeatedly attacked Islam, and argued that Germany should be proud of its veterans of two world wars.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the secretary general of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, responded on Twitter that “50 million victims of war, the Holocaust, and total war are just bird poop” for Gauland and his party.
She said Gauland’s comments reveal the true nature of a party hiding behind middle-class respectability.
AfD won 12.6 percent of the vote to enter Germany’s national parliament last year on anti-migrant and anti-establishment sentiment. It is now the largest of four opposition parties after the country’s two biggest parties finally agreed to continue a centrist “grand coalition” under Merkel earlier this year.
In parliament, AfD’s novice lawmakers have sometimes struggled to grasp basic procedures and stood out with blunt attacks on minorities, particularly Muslims, who made up the majority of the more than 1 million asylum-seekers to enter Germany in 2015 and 2016. Recent polls have put the party’s support around the same level as in last year’s election.
Officially, Israel boycotts the populist opposition party, known by its German acronym AfD, due to its nationalist and xenophobic policies.
Similar to other far-right parties in Europe, the AfD formally rejects anti-Semitism and professes to strongly support Israel, seeing a common enemy in radical Islamism. However, the party is largely rejected by the local Jewish community, which argues that it promotes xenophobia and fails to adequately distance itself from anti-Semites within its ranks.