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Europe’s refugee crisis

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld courts controversy by invoking Holocaust in criticism of Angela Merkel’s refugee policy

Lagerfeld said he was going to ‘say something horrific’ before criticising the chancellor for the ‘huge error’ of accepting so many refugees

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 7:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 7:19pm

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has sparked outrage by evoking the Holocaust as he attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for opening the country’s borders to migrants.

“One cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place,” he told a French television show.

“I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said, ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust,’” he added.

Several hundred people lodged official complaints about Lagerfeld’s comments, the French media regulator said on Monday after he appeared on the “Salut les terriens!” (Hello Earthlings!) talk show on the C8 channel on Saturday.

One cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place
Karl Lagerfeld

The veteran Chanel designer, who was born in Hamburg just as Adolf Hitler came to power, had earlier lambasted Merkel for taking more than 1 million asylum seekers since the migrant crisis of 2015.

“Merkel had already millions and millions [of immigrants] who are well integrated and who work and all is well … she had no need to take another million to improve her image as the wicked stepmother after the Greek crisis,” Lagerfeld said.

“Suddenly we see the pastor’s daughter,” he said in reference to Merkel’s father, who was a Protestant minister in the former East Germany.

Lagerfeld, who is rarely afraid of controversy, said he was going to “say something horrific” before criticising the chancellor for the “huge error” of accepting so many refugees from war-torn Syria and elsewhere.

“Look at France, the land of human rights, which has taken, I don’t know, 10,000 or 20,000,” he added.

The French TV regulator, the CSA, said it had received several hundred complaints over the weekend about Lagerfeld’s comment, and was looking at the programme.

The designer was roasted for the outburst on social media, although some users also came to his defence.