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May 18, 2011
(JTA) -- Danish film director Lars Von Trier described himself as a Nazi who is not against Jews during the Cannes Film Festival, and later apologized.
Von Trier, who was at the festival to promote his film "Melancholia," reportedly made the comments in jest. During a news conference Wednesday he said that "I am a Nazi," and called Israel "a pain in the ass."
He later apologized in a statement issued by his publicist.
“I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out that I was really a Nazi because, you know, my family was German, which also gave me some pleasure," he said during the news conference.
“What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews. I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass.”
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, in a statement said that "Holocaust survivors condemn Von Trier's repulsive comments as an insensitive exploitation of victims' suffering for self-serving promotion and publicity.
"His vulgar comments may have been made in jest and for shock, but those subjected to the brutalities of the Nazi regime cannot find amusement in recalling the torture and deaths of those terrible times. We cannot give a review of his film, but as a person Von Trier is a moral failure."
Journalists and critics have called Von Trier's new film a triumph and said it is in the running for the Palme d'Or prize in Cannes for best picture. His politically charged comments could harm his film's chances, according to reports.
In memory of Dr. Gary A. Tobin.
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