ATHENS, Greece (JTA) – Jewish groups have criticized a Greek lawmaker who posted a picture of the gates of Auschwitz with a pro-Europe slogan, accusing him of trivializing the Holocaust.
Member of Parliament Dimitris Kammenos of the Independent Greeks Party on Wednesday posted a picture on Facebook of the death camp gates with pro-Europe slogan “We stay in Europe” replacing the sign on the gate,“Arbeit macht frei,” a German phrase used during the Holocaust which translates to “work makes you free.”
The post came as Greece is locked in crisis talks with the European Union (EU) amid fears it will default on its debt and be forced to leave the EU.
The Central Board of Jewish Communities called the post “shameful.”
We must not stay indifferent to such phenomena because if our society allows the distortion of the historical truth and memory of the Holocaust, it would have been as if we reopened the gate of Auschwitz to new crimes against humanity,” the board said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that Kammenos had a history of anti-Semitic posts and called on Greek leaders to take a stronger stand.
“Greek leaders should not let such despicable social media posts by a member of parliament go without comment,” said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman.
Kammenos’ party, which is the junior party in the governing coalition, distanced itself from his actions. Party spokeswoman Marina Chrissoveloni said that the lawmakers’ post was an “utterly personal action,” the Kathemirini newspaper reported.
Kammenos later apologized, calling the picture a “misunderstanding.”
“Maybe the comparison was unfortunate but my country is experiencing an economic holocaust,” he wrote on Facebook.
Kammenos is not related to party leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who also caused an outcry recently when, during the election campaign, he said Jews don’t pay taxes.
A recent ADL poll found that anti-Semitic stereotypes are widespread in Greece and that the country had the highest percentage of anti-Semitic views in Europe.