ROME (AP) — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming that Germans deny that Nazi-run death camps ever existed.
Berlusconi was presenting his center-right Forza Italia party's candidates Saturday in Milan for May's European Parliament elections when he mentioned a 2003 gaffe he made comparing now Parliament president Martin Schulz to a concentration camp guard. Berlusconi said he didn't want to offend Schulz, then added: "the Germans, for them, concentration camps never existed."
German Families Minister Manuela Schwesig, on Twitter, called Berlusconi's remarks "unspeakable" and urged a fight against right-wing "populism."
A Berlusconi stalwart, former education minister Mariastella Gelmini, dismissed the flap as campaign propaganda.
Berlusconi lost his Italian Senate seat and is banned from running in elections because of a tax fraud conviction but still leads his party.