German chancellor Olaf Scholz sparks backlash for ‘comparing climate activists to Nazis’

‘These black-clad displays at various events by the same people over and over again remind me of a time that is, thank God, long gone by’

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 31 May 2022 15:44 BST
German chancellor Olaf Scholz appears to compare climate activists to Nazis

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Louise Thomas

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German chancellor Olaf Scholz has sparked a backlash for appearing to compare protesting climate activists to Nazis. His spokesperson, however, dismissed such comparisons as “absurd”.

At a Catholic Day panel event in Stuttgart last Friday, the German chancellor spoke about phasing out coal and its impact on workers.

He was reportedly interrupted by climate activists during his speech, and one person allegedly tried to climb on stage but was stopped by security personnel.

“I’ll be honest: These black-clad displays at various events by the same people over and over again remind me of a time that is, thank God, long gone by,” Mr Scholz said, according to a video that has gone viral on social media.

He alleged that the protests he was facing were an attempt to “manipulate” narratives.

“I have also been to events where five people sat dressed in the same way, each had a well-rehearsed stance, and then they do it again every time,” he said. “And that’s why I think that is not a discussion, that is not participation in a discussion, but an attempt to manipulate events for one’s own purposes. One should not do this.”

The one-minute clip was shared by climate activist Luisa Neubauer, who said the chancellor “compares climate activists to Nazis”.

“Where does one begin? In just one half-sentence, the chancellor of the federal republic relativises the Nazi regime and, in a paradoxical way, also the climate crisis,” she wrote on Twitter. “He stylises climate protection as an ideology with parallels to the Nazi regime. In 2022. Jesus. This is such a scandal.”

Activists pointed out that Mr Scholz won the election as a “climate campaigner” but his reaction to the protest by activists was highly demeaning.

Ms Neubauer has also started an online petition demanding Mr Scholz clarify exactly what he meant, and suggested again that he was defaming environmentalists as ideologues.

A government spokesperson said the chancellor’s statements “speak for themselves”.

“ I would not want to comment on [the statements] here. But I can say that such a comparison is, of course, completely absurd,” Christiane Hoffmann said.

“The chancellor has made climate protection a priority of this legislative period of his chancellorship and he is, of course, always ready to deal with this topic and to discuss it,” she added.

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