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20 April 2024

EU politician shouts 'Nazis' in German airport spat


German police said Thursday they would file a complaint against a European Parliament vice president for calling Frankfurt airport customs officers "Nazis" and exclaiming "Heil Hitler".

Jacek Protasiewicz, 46, of Poland's governing centrist Civic Platform party, confirmed Tuesday evening's heated altercation, but denied a German media report that he was drunk.

"A young German customs officer stopped me," Protasiewicz later told Poland's RMF24 radio news website. "His haircut was more reminiscent of a football fan than a state official.

"But that's not what upset me. He asked me for my documents. I gave him my passport. It says I'm a member of the European Parliament. He was obliged to know who I am.

"I heard the word 'raus' (out) and I really did become furious. I told him that it sounds very bad in my country. In that country, it is associated with 'Heil Hitler'."

Germany's Bild daily said Protasiewicz was visibly drunk at the time and asked the two officers, "Were you ever in Auschwitz?", referring to the Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland.

Speaking separately in the European Parliament, Protasiewicz said "the Bild publication is a lie and it is offensive".

A German police spokesman told AFP that in the incident "two customs officers were alleged to have been insulted", without repeating the alleged insults.

"His personal details were taken and his diplomatic status determined. Police will pass on a complaint to the prosecutor," the spokesman said, adding that no alcohol test was performed on Protasiewicz.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in Warsaw that "regardless of how inappropriate German customs officers or police had behaved, the behaviour of Jacek Protasiewicz was also inappropriate".