Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), Alexander Gauland, for his remark about the Nazi era.
"It is shameful that we have to respond to such comments made by a member of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament)," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.
The statement was made after Gauland called the rule of Hitler and the National-Socialist party a "piece of bird sh*t" on German history. The comment was made during a speech in front of the youth wing of the party last week and sparked a storm of criticism in Germany.
"The government completely and unequivocally rejects any relativization, any downplaying of the Nazi crimes," Seibert stated, stressing Germany's everlasting responsibility for the "immense suffering" and describing Hitler's mass murder of Jews as "a singular crime against humanity."
Gauland himself responded to the criticism against him on Monday.
"[…] I expressed my deepest contempt for National Socialism using a wording that caused misunderstandings and misinterpretation. ‘Bird sh*t' is for me the dirtiest thing, an animal's secretion that I compared the National Socialism to," his statement published on the AfD's website read.
"But I've spotted that many have perceived this term as an inappropriate trivialization. There is nothing I wanted less than to give such an impression, which can doubtlessly be proved by the rest of the speech. I regret the ultimate effect. It has never been my intention to trivialize or let alone mock the victims of this criminal system," the politician said.
AfD's popularity among Germans has increased over the last few years amid a migration crisis in Europe. It became the country's largest opposition party after winning its first seats in the Bundestag in 2017 parliamentary elections.