Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recent statement about Adolf Hitler has ruffled the feathers of a large number of people, and irked Israel. Speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset’s Rete 4 channel in an interview released on Sunday, Lavrov said Hitler had Jewish blood.
The comments were made a day after Vadym Boychenko, the Mayor of Ukrainian city Mariupol, said Russia is worse that the Nazis.
Russian invasion, launched more than two months ago, has caused widespread devastation in Ukraine and force thousands to flee their homeland.
What is the controversy?
Boychenko, like his leader and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called the Russian invasion and destruction “genocide”. The mayor said there have been more than 20,000 civilian deaths in Mariupol since the war started, claiming it’s more than double the killings carried out by German Nazis.
Lavrov hit back, comparing Zelensky to Hitler. According to a transcript of his interview posted on the Russian foreign ministry website, Lavrov said that Zelensky “puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish”.
“I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood,” he added.
Moscow has previously said it wants to “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Israel slams Lavrov’s remarks
Israel, which has sought to keep a delicate balance between Russia and Ukraine since the war began on February 24, slammed Lavrov and summoned Moscow’s ambassador for “clarifications”.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the “outrageous” remarks in a statement. “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” Lapid said, adding: “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of anti-semitism.”
What is known about Hitler’s ancestry?
According to the BBC, unproven facts have been swirling around for decades that Hitler had Jewish blood. This was based on the claims made by Hitler’s lawyer Hans Frank in his memoir, which was published in 1953.
The BBC report further said that Frank had been instructed by Hitler himself to find out if he indeed had Jewish roots. The Nazi Party member claimed to have uncovered evidence that Hitler’s grandfather was indeed Jewish, the publication further said.
However, many mainstream historians had rubbished these claims.
Other things to know about Hitler
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a Swedish legislator nominated Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939. Though he intended it as a joke, the announcement created uproar and the nomination was quickly withdrawn. Encyclopedia Britannica further said that Hitler’s career as an artist was a failure after he was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He lived in poverty trying to sell his work.