Angela Merkel forced to clarify Germany was responsible for the Holocaust following Benjamin Netanyahu controversy

The Israeli prime minister claimed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews

Alexander Sehmer
Wednesday 21 October 2015 16:44
Comments
Mr Netanyahu's comments sparked outrage, with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat accusing him of attempting to absolve Hitler
Mr Netanyahu's comments sparked outrage, with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat accusing him of attempting to absolve Hitler

The German government has clarified it is responsible for the Holocaust following Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial comments in which he blamed the extermination of millions of Jews on a former Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader.

Addressing the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu claimed the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini convinced Adolf Hitler that if he expelled the Jews they would settle in Palestine and exhorted him to "burn them".

Asked about Mr Netanyahu's comments, Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said there was "no reason to change our view of history".

"All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilisation that was the Holocaust," he said.

"This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.

"We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own."

The claim the Grand Mufti, who supported Hitler and met him in November 1941, instigated the Holocaust has been made before, but has been widely discredited.

There is no record of the conversation to which Mr Netanyahu referred, and Nazi efforts to exterminate European Jews were already under way by the time of Hitler's meeting with Al-Husseini.

נתניהו: "היטלר במקור לא רצה להשמיד את היהודים, הוא רצה לגרש את היהודים. חאג' אמין אל-חוסייני שכנע אותו לשנות את דעתו". #מהכן, הוא ברצינות טען כך. אל תשאלו אותי איך זה קרה בדיוק

Posted by ‎דדי שי‎ on Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Mr Netanyahu's comments sparked outrage, with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat accusing him of attempting to absolve Hitler.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called it a "dangerous historical distortion".

Israeli government officials also appeared to distance themselves from the comments with Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister, acknowledging on Israel's Army Radio that Hitler "initiated" the Holocaust.

The Israeli prime minister later defended his comments saying: "I didn't mean to absolve Hitler of responsibility, but to show that the father of the Palestinian nation wanted to destroy Jews even without occupation."

UK Jewish groups contacted by the Independent declined to comment on the issue, saying Mr Netanyahu had clarified his position.

Shortly after making the comments Mr Netanyahu flew to Germany where he was due to meet John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, to discuss the situation in Israel and the Middle East.

(Additional reporting by agencies)

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in