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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
German press split on Hitler jibe
Herta Daeubler-Gmelin
Her remarks have caused fireworks before the election
Germany's papers focus on Friday on the consequences of remarks attributed to German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin likening President Bush's political methods over Iraq to those of Adolf Hitler.

The minister has since denied making such a comparison, but

A cabinet member who makes such comparisons, and does not apologize, should be sacked

Bild
the mass-circulation Bild tabloid calls the alleged remarks "unspeakable".

"Hitler was a criminal, and his methods were those of a criminal. To draw a parallel between Hitler and Bush... is insulting."

"A cabinet member who makes such comparisons, and does not apologise, should be sacked - if not by the chancellor, then by the voters", the paper concludes.

Damage to Germany

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung headlines its commentary "Finished".

"Herta Daeubler-Gmelin cannot, will not be a member of the next German cabinet", it says.


She can no longer make her remarks disappear, but she can offer her resignation and prevent any further damage to Germany

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The paper says she clearly cannot restrain her tongue and is "locked in a way of thinking that cannot be reconciled with Germany's foreign policy interests".

The daily believes quick action is needed. "She can no longer make her remarks disappear, but she can offer her resignation and prevent any further damage to Germany."

Berlin's Tagesspiegel takes a similar view, calling the remarks "scandalous".

Gerhard Schroeder
Will he act, or won't he?
The paper believes Chancellor Schroeder should sack her, but doubts that he will with the election so close. "He's probably thinking: It's not worth it. Just a few more days."

Anti-Americanism

Berlin's Die Welt wonders whether the affair is a sign of increasing anti-Americanism in Germany.

"This is terrible, Justice Minister! We'll soon be reading in US papers how seriously political America takes... this creeping betrayal by the Germans."

And Die Welt says it is clear that the affair won't go away after Sunday's elections.

Stupid stuff

Some papers urge calm, however. The Frankfurter Rundschau calls the row "stupid stuff".


Her varied explanations are now making a mountain out of a molehill

Frankfurter Rundschau
It says the minister made a mistake "which should be set aside by a word of apology".

But, says the paper, the opposition is behaving "as if she said Bush was a mass murderer".

"Her varied explanations are now making a mountain out of a molehill. That's stupid stuff as well."

Political Generalizations

Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung is also a touch bemused by the fuss. The minister just "repeated political generalisations", it says, and wrong ones at that.

"They are wrong because Hitler did not invent these methods; they were already being used in ancient times."

The paper says the furore is predictable. "She should not be surprised when her political competitors exploit them in the final phase of an election campaign."

One of many

Initially, the Berliner Zeitung seems to be on Herta Daeubler-Gmelin's side.

In Germany it has become common for democrats to come up with similar pitiful phrases at every opportunity

Berliner Zeitung
"We do not believe that the minister actually made these remarks", it says.

But it then goes on to maintain that if she did make them, she would be "not in good company, but nevertheless one of many".

"In Germany it has become common for democrats to come up with similar pitiful phrases at every opportunity", the paper says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Gerhard Schroeder

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19 Sep 02 | Europe
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