A controversial cartoon depicting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in a Nazi uniform was published in the leftist daily newspaper Avgi (The Dawn). Germany strongly criticized the cartoon on Friday.
"I always uphold the principle of free speech, but on a very personal level I find this caricature offensive and the cartoonist should be ashamed," German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said during a press conference on Friday.
In the cartoon, which the leftist newspaper published on the back page of its February 8 edition with the caption "Negotiations have begun," a Schäuble speech bubble reads, "We insist on soap from your fat" and "we are discussing fertilizers from your ashes." These are references to the fate of the Jews killed in the Nazi death camps of World War II.
Answering complaint from the Greek Israelite community in Athens, the cartoonist, Tassos Anastassiou, said he meant "no insult or disrespect" to victims of the Holocaust.
Another cartoon in the paper on Friday depicted Schäuble in a German military uniform.
During a visit to Berlin earlier this week, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias talked about his government's claim for World War II reparations over Nazi Germany's occupation of his country. Berlin said all reparation issues had already been settled.
Anti-austerity demonstrators in Greece often depicted German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Nazi uniform or with a Hitler moustache. Schäuble is also unpopular among Greeks opposing austerity measures because he has long been a leading advocate of the austerity program in debt-ridden Greece.
das/sms (dpa, Reuters)