June 5, 2018 / 10:12 PM / 3 months ago

German rightist leader walks to police station after clothes stolen

BERLIN (Reuters) - The co-leader of a German anti-immigrant party had to walk to a police station from the shores of a lake outside Berlin wearing only his underwear after his clothes were stolen while he was swimming, the Maerkische Allgemeine newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Alexander Gauland of the Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) attends the 2018 budget debate at the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Alexander Gauland, 77, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), told the newspaper, “My belongings were stolen by someone as I was in the water and other swimmers called the police without asking me.”

The newspaper reported that the incident in Heiliger See southwest of Berlin happened last Tuesday. Gauland drew rebuke from German politicians over the weekend for saying that Hitler and the Nazis were nothing more than “bird shit,” remarks interpreted as an attempt to downplay the significance of Nazi crimes.

“Other swimmers told me that the robbers shouted, ‘This is no swimming place for Nazis’,” Gauland, a lawmaker in the Bundestag lower house, told the newspaper. “My keys were in the trousers so the whole locking system of the house had to be changed,” he said.

A police spokeswoman told Maerkische Allgemeine that the robbery appeared to be politically motivated and was being investigated.

Police in the state of Brandenburg where the incident occurred could not be reached to confirm the incident.

A picture of Gauland in boxer shorts walking near police was widely circulated on social media.

Gauland told an AfD gathering in the eastern state of Thuringia that “Hitler and the National Socialists are just bird shit in 1,000 years of successful German history.”

Politicians from of many parties condemned his remarks, saying they amounted to belittling the Holocaust and other crimes committed by the Nazis.

The Nazi dictatorship is a highly sensitive issue in Germany, more than seven decades after its defeat.

Germany has built its post-World War Two identity on the principle of keeping alive the memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis and a commitment to Israel’s right to exist.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Toni Reinhold

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