Berlusconi compares his children’s experience to that of Jews in Nazi Germany

Remarks cause outrage in Jewish community

Silvio Berlusconi: “My children tell me that they feel just as Jewish families in Germany under the Hitler regime must have felt.” Photograph: Reuters

Silvio Berlusconi: “My children tell me that they feel just as Jewish families in Germany under the Hitler regime must have felt.” Photograph: Reuters

Thu, Nov 7, 2013, 01:00

Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi prompted a furious row yesterday when he compared his children’s experience of life in modern Italy to that of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.

The media tycoon’s comments elicited outraged reactions from the Italian Jewish community and from a wide variety of public figures.

The remarks were made in the context of a book, Salt, Sugar and Coffee, due to be published this week and written by TV anchor man, Bruno Vespa, a journalist very close to the Berlusconi camp. In the book, Vespa asks Mr Berlusconi whether it is true that his children called on him to sell up everything and leave Italy.

“My children tell me that they feel just as Jewish families in Germany under the Hitler regime must have felt,” Mr Berlusconi said.

The response from the Italian Jewish community was immediate with many people calling the remarks “incomprehensible” and “offensive”.

Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said: “The Italian republic is a democratic country . . . life for European Jews under Nazism was a catastrophe not just for Jews but for all humanity. Any comparison with the affairs of the Berlusconi family is not only inappropriate and incomprehensible but also offensive to the memory of those who were deprived of all rights and then, after atrocious and unspeakable suffering, deprived of life itself.”