Postcard From...Milan


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The Independent Online

The less savory elements of the Italian press are doing their best to whip-up anti-German feeling as tussles continue between Rome and Berlin over how to save the euro.

Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by the family of Silvio Berlusconi, led the way, of course, comparing Chancellor Angela Merkel's Germany with the Third Reich. "Since yesterday, Italy (and not only Italy) is no longer in Europe but in the Fourth Reich," said a piece signed by the paper's editor, Alessandro Sallusti. It went on to describe Mrs Merkel as the "new Kaiser" and showed a photo of her waving in what was presumably meant to be seen as, but in fact looked nothing like, a Nazi salute.

Another pro-Berlusconi paper, Il Libero, joined the offensive with a cartoon showing Mrs Merkel making an obscene gesture while dressed as a Nazi officer.

The pro-Berlusconi rags are only too happy to stir things up even further to give the populist former Prime Minister something to campaign on, should he stand for re-election.

The latest attacks come just six weeks after the same right-wing newspapers targeted Mrs Merkel following Italy's victory over Germany in the Euro 2012 football semi-finals. One headline read "F*** off Merkel", with an image of star Italian striker Mario Balotelli kicking a football bearing the German leader's face.

Some critics suggest Libero and Il Giornale were merely taking their lead from Mr Berlusconi himself. Last year, it was reported that wiretaps had revealed the scandal-struck mogul referring to Mrs Merkel as an "unf***able lardarse".