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German Comparison of Bush to Hitler Irks U.S.

September 20, 2002|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — The White House expressed outrage Thursday that Germany's justice minister had compared President Bush's aggressive stance on Iraq to the tactics used by Adolf Hitler.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said the United States and Germany have long had a strong relationship, "but this statement by the justice minister is outrageous and is inexplicable."

Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin told a small group of labor union members Wednesday that Bush was going after Iraq to divert attention from domestic problems. "That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that," the German newspaper Schwaebisches Tagblatt quoted her as saying.

The minister called the report misleading but did not deny the remarks. "I would regret it very much if this matter were to cast the slightest shadow on my respect for the president of the United States," she said.

Washington's ambassador in Berlin conveyed U.S. displeasure to the German government, a U.S. official said.

Tensions between the U.S. and Germany over Iraq policy have been growing in recent weeks. The Bush administration has been none too pleased that in campaigning for reelection, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has vowed that Germany will not join the U.S. on what he calls an "adventure" in Iraq. But the U.S. has refrained from publicly commenting on the issue.

Edmund Stoiber, who is challenging Schroeder in Sunday's election, also said Thursday that he would not let American forces use Germany as a strategic base for an attack on Iraq if the U.S. took unilateral action.

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