AfD chief: Nazi era a 'speck of bird poop' in German history
'Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history,' says Alexander Gauland, drawing criticism from secretary general of Merkel's party: '50 million victims of war, the Holocaust and total war are just bird poop' for Gauland and his party.
BERLIN - The co-leader of the far-right nationalist Alternative for Germany party on Saturday dismissed the Nazi era as a "speck of bird poop" in German history, drawing swift condemnation from mainstream politicians and outrage on social media.
Alexander Gauland said Germans must take responsibility for 12 years of rule by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party, but argued that it's only a small part of Germany's history.
"We have a glorious history and it, dear friends, lasted longer than those blasted 12 years," he told a gathering of the party's youth movement, according to the dpa news agency.
"Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history," he said to applause.
The party, known by its German acronym AfD, became the third largest in Germany's parliament after the 2017 election. It is also the largest opposition party.
The AfD has drawn its support from voters angry at Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to welcome about a million people seeking asylum.
Responding to Gauland, the secretary general of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter that "50 million victims of war, the Holocaust and total war are just bird poop" for Gauland and his party.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Gauland's 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.
Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democrats (SPD), criticised Gauland for trivializing the Nazis. "It is a disgrace that such characters sit in parliament," he said.
Hours after the speech, AfD spokesman Christian Lueth sent another tweet, this time with a black and white picture of an angry-looking Hitler with his fist in the air and the caption: "By the way I find the idea of comparing #Hitler to bird shit quite charming."
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.
Reuters contributed to this story.