The stress former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is under from his legal woes is just like that felt by persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany, according to a remark by noted history expert Berlusconi. "My children say that they feel like Jewish families in Germany under Hitler’s regime. Truly, everyone is against us," he said recently of the fallout from his tax fraud conviction earlier this year. He's also challenging a sentence for paying an underage prostitute. Berlusconi faces an upcoming vote in the Senate that could ban him from political life in the country. The former prime minister maintains his innocence, claiming repeatedly that he's become a target of "communist judges" in the country.
In general, it's a good idea to refrain from comparing a massive genocide to anything that isn't a massive genocide. But Berlusconi seems somewhat fond of the insensitive hyperbole. In 2003, as the Forward notes, the conservative leader compared a German Social Democrat to a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. He also likes joking about the Holocaust. Within a span of just weeks in 2010, Berlusconi told a bad joke about Hitler returning to power, and an anti-Semitic joke stereotyping Jews as money-obsessed. Berlusconi has also claimed that Benito Mussolini "never killed anyone" during his dictatorship, adding, "Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile." Earlier this year Berlusconi even took some time to defend the motive behind the anti-Semitic laws of Mussolini's Italy during a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration of the victims of the Nazi extermination programs. Of course, he also gets in trouble for making lots of other regrettable remarks.
the Italian Union of Jewish Communities released a statement by its president Renzo Gattegna condemning the latest remarks:
"Under Nazism, the Jews of Europe were caught in a black vortex of violence, persecution and death. Any parallel with the affairs of the Berlusconi family is therefore not only inappropriate and incomprehensible but also offensive to the memory of those who were deprived of all rights and, after atrocious and unspeakable suffering, deprived of their lives."
The most recent Berlusconi remark was released in an excerpt from a book by Bruno Vespa, and later posted to Berlusconi's Forza Italia party website.