Germany on Wednesday stressed its inherent responsibility for the Holocaust, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stirred controversy by claiming that a Palestinian leader gave Hitler the idea of exterminating Jews.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hosted Netanyahu for talks Wednesday, stressed: “Germany abides by its responsibility for the Holocaust.”
“We don’t see any reason to change our view of history.”
In a speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu suggested that Adolf Hitler was not planning to exterminate the Jews until he met Palestinian nationalist Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in 1941.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu told the World Zionist Congress.
“And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said: ‘Burn them.’”
Bibi denies exonorating Hitler
But Netanyahu on Wednesday backtracked on the claim, denying that he was exonerating Hitler of the responsiblity for the Holocaust.
Standing next to Merkel, he said the “responsibility of Hitler and the Nazis for the extermination of 6 million Jews is clear to fair minded people”.
At the same time, he insisted that the Grand Mufti’s role should not be forgotten.
“He told the Nazis to prevent the fleeing of Jews from Europe and he supported the final solution,” insisted Netanyahu.
“The real question should be directed not at me but at president Abbas: why is he and the Palestinian authority glorifying the official mufti of Jerusalem as a Palestinian icon?
“They call him the father of the Palestinian nation, this is a war criminal who was sought for war crimes,” said the Israeli leader.
No evidence to claims: US
Netanyahu’s comments were not supported by scholarly evidence, the State Department said, as US Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington for talks on ending weeks of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to characterize Netanyahu’s comments as potentially inciting, but he said scholarly evidence on the Holocaust did not support the prime minister’s view.
“We’ve seen the press reports of his comments, and if you look at them, they would connote that the scholarly evidence does not support that position,” Kirby told a daily briefing.