Germany's Central Council of Jews on Monday urged motor racing teams to boycott Formula One after its chief, Bernie Ecclestone, praised Adolf Hitler's ability to "get things done".
Ecclestone, 78, was quoted in the British newspaper the Times on Saturday as saying he preferred totalitarian regimes to democracies and as singling out Hitler for pushing things through effectively.
"No team should work with him any more - a boycott would be more than appropriate," said the Council's vice president, Dieter Graumann.
Graumann said Ecclestone was "either empty headed or unbelievably malicious - probably both" and said he risked driving the whole of Formula One into a wall.
Germany's Grand Prix takes place at the Nuerburgring this weekend.
"Just one week before the start of the Nuerburgring, the teams should make very clear that whoever praises Hitler, shows he is not serious," Graumann said in an interview with Handelsblatt newspaper. The Council confirmed the quotes.
Ecclestone was quoted in The Times as saying: "In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done."
German media also reported that Guenther Oettinger, state premier of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, had cancelled a planned meeting with Ecclestone on the sidelines of the Nuerburgring race because of his comments about Hitler.
Ecclestone tried to clarify his comments in top-selling Bild newspaper on Monday.
"It is all a big misunderstanding. In the interview we talked about structures and that it's sometimes good if something can be handled stringently and decided without limits," he said.
Asked by Bild why he had praised Hitler, Ecclestone said: "I did not mention Hitler as a positive example but I just pointed out that before his terrible crimes, he succeeded in fighting unemployment and the economic crisis."
Asked if he wanted to apologize, he said: "I would never dream of hurting the feelings of a community. A lot of people among my closest friends are Jews. Everyone that knows me, knows that I would never attack minorities."
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