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Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe

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Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe
Åsa Romson at Sweden's Almedalen Week. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT
08:27 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party leader Åsa Romson has stirred up a storm after she placed Auschwitz in southern Germany instead of Poland, her second gaffe about the holocaust.

In an interview on satire radio news programme 'Tankesmedjan' – recorded at Almedalen Week, Sweden's annual festival of power politics – host Johannes Finnlaugsson cheekily asked Romson if she knew where 'Aus-wish' was.

"Close to 'Sveisch'," he suggested, using a common mispronunciation of the Swedish word for Switzerland (Schweiz).

"Haha, it's somewhere in southern Germany," replied Romson.

She then corrected herself and more accurately placed the concentration camp in Poland, close to Krakow.

But her original comments spread quickly on social media in Sweden on Thursday. Most thought that she had tried to joke about Auschwitz, and accused her of making light of the Holocaust. But according to her press secretary the minister just made a slip of the tongue.

"Åsa Romson knows well that both Auschwitz and Krakow are in southern Poland. She says immediately afterwards that Auschwitz is near Krakow because she herself realized that she had said southern Germany instead," Helena Hellström Gefwert told Swedish Radio.

But the debate refused to die down, and many took to social media to hit out at the Green Party co-leader, with 'Auschwitz' trending on Twitter in Sweden on Thursday.

It is not the first time Romson, who is also Sweden's minister of the environment, has landed herself in trouble after ill-advised comments on the former Second World War concentration camp.

The deputy prime minister sparked a huge wave of criticism when she described the migrant crisis in Europe as "the new Auschwitz" in a live television debate less than two months ago. She was later forced to apologize after commentators accused her of disrespecting the victims of the Holocaust.

Romson has also been mocked for the way she said 'Auschwitz', mispronouncing it as 'Aus-wish'.

Meanwhile Romson also remains in hot water after it was revealed she and her partner had used toxic bottom paint to coat their house boat. Her own party has previously criticized the use of toxic boat paint.

The most recent Auschwitz controversy came at an inopportune time for the Green Party, which was centre stage on the fifth day of the Almedalen conference yesterday, where politicians, lobbyists and media pundits are currently gathered to attend the most important week in Swedish politics.

Romson's co-leader Gustav Fridolin did not address her mishap in his speech on Thursday, instead choosing to focus on the Green Party's core issues: education and the environment.

Read The Local's round-up of the Green Party's day at Almedalen Week here.

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