Karl Lagerfeld has sparked outrage by evoking the Holocaust as he attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel for opening Germany’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,” the 80-year-old Chanel designer 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.
France’s media regulator said on Monday that several hundred people had lodged complaints about Lagerfeld’s comments on the Salut les Terriens! (Hello Earthlings!) talk show on the C8 channel on Saturday.
Lagerfeld, who was born in Hamburg just as Adolf Hitler came to power, had earlier lambasted Merkel after Germany allowed more than 1 million asylum seekers into the country 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 often courts 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 was examining the programme.
The designer was widely criticised for the outburst on social media, although some users also came to his defence.