German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing criticism after allegedly comparing climate activists to Nazis during a speech on Sunday, an allegation his office denies.
The remarks were targeted at climate activists who interrupted the chancellor’s speech at the German Catholic Church’s annual conference by heckling and trying to climb onstage.
“I will say very honestly: These black-clad stagings at different events by the same people remind me of a time that is long gone – thankfully,” he commented. “I have also been to events before where five people were sitting there, all dressed the same, everyone had a rehearsed stance, and they do the same again every time,” he added.
A number of observers understood Scholz’s reference to “a time thankfully long gone” as referring to the National Socialists’ rule over Germany. However, Scholz did not specify what time period he was talking about.
This view is shared by Luisa Neubauer, the most prominent face of the youth climate movement Fridays for Future in Germany.
“Scholz is comparing climate activists to Nazis,” she tweeted on Monday (30 May). She also accused Scholz of trivialising Nazi rule and, “paradoxically, the climate crisis too along with it.”
Asked by journalists during a press conference on Monday (30 May), a government spokesperson said the remark was not meant to reference National Socialism but refused to answer what Scholz was referring to instead.
Meanwhile, the Anne Frank Educational Centre Director, Meron Mendel, also criticised Scholz, saying the “association with the Nazi era is at the very least an obvious one.” In an interview with the online news portal Buzzfeed, Mendel called on Scholz to provide clarification on what he actually meant.