An Italian newspaper is sparking outrage in Germany after printing a cover story that compares German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Nazis.
The article in Friday's Il Giornale -- a paper owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- attacked Germany's handling of the ongoing euro crisis. The front-page photo features the chancellor waving her hand in the air under the headline "Fourth Reich." Critical of Merkel's failure to allow the European Central Bank to bail out Italy's struggling economy, the article said that Italy and Europe has been brought "to its knees." The paper also criticized Italy's current prime minister, Mario Monti, for not standing up to Merkel.
Merkel and her conservative party have long advocated for budgetary restraint among Eurozone countries as a way of restoring confidence in the floundering currency. Germany's economy is strong -- it's one of the few countries in the European Union that still receives a coveted top AAA rating from all the major crediting agencies -- and Merkel's fear is that the Eurozone will quickly become a debt union where solvent countries carry bankrupt ones, particularly if there are no safeguards that guarantee repayment. Monti, however, has said that more flexibility has to be given to countries such as Spain and Italy that are trying to rebuild their economies in the face of crushing debt.
According to the Daily Mail, the Il Giornale continued with a scathing account of Germany's decision: "In the First Reich, Germany also wanted the title Emperor of Rome, and in the next two they used their own means again against the states of Europe, two world wars and millions of dead. Obviously, this was not enough to quiet German egomania."
The article has escalated ongoing tensions between Germany and Italy as the European debt crisis continues to fester throughout the continent. In an interview with the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, Monti said that he has already warned Merkel about growing anti-German sentiment in Italy. "I referred her to the growing resentment here in Parliament against European Union, against the euro, against the Germans and sometimes against the Chancellor herself," he added.
The "Fourth Reich" headline is not the first time the Italian newspaper has openly mocked the Merkel. After Italy beat Germany in the Euro 2012 semifinal in June, the newspaper ran the headline "Ciao, Ciao, Culona." Translation: "Bye, Bye, Lard Ass."