RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A video published by German diplomats explaining their country’s efforts to learn from the holocaust has kicked up a storm in Brazil, where deep political polarization has contributed to a divisive presidential election.
The explanatory video - published on Facebook by the German embassy in Brasilia - says that Germans “don’t hide from their past,” adding that “from a young age they’re taught to confront the horrors of the holocaust.”
The video’s assertion that Nazism was a right-wing movement has enraged some in Brazil, who argued the party of Adolf Hitler espoused a left-wing political ideology due to its official name, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
In the comments section of the video, which has amassed 776,000 views on the embassy’s Facebook page, commenters also doubted the veracity of the holocaust, which resulted in the killing of around 6 million Jews, labelling it a “holofraud.”
“The Holocaust is a historical fact, with proof and testimony that can be found in many parts of Europe,” the embassy wrote on its Facebook page in response to one holocaust denier.
The extreme reactions to the video have revealed the deep ideological faultlines in the country ahead of the Oct. 7 first-round presidential vote, which has been overshadowed by violent political attacks, concerns over fake news and an increasingly polarized public discourse.
Poll-leader Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist who is recovering in hospital from a near-fatal stab wound, has been called a Nazi by critics, while the vice presidential pick of the second-placed candidate is herself a member of the country’s Communist Party. Finally, the country’s most popular politician, former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in jail on corruption charges and barred from running.
The German embassy in Brasilia did not respond to a request for comment.
Brazil has a long history of German migration that dates back to the 19th century. Many Nazis fled to southern Brazil and other South American countries after World War II, including Josef Mengele of Auschwitz notoriety.
Bolsonaro broadcasted an address from his hospital bed on Sunday, attacking his likely opponents in an Oct. 28 run-off and raising the baseless prospect of voter fraud by casting doubt on the country’s electronic voting system.
Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Edited by Brad Brooks and Lisa Shumaker