In a short video on Germany's culture of remembrance surrounding the Holocaust, the German Embassy to Brazil attempted to send the message that "Germans do not hide from their past."
The video, which has racked up close to 850,000 views on the Embassy's Facebook and Twitter pages, showed off Germany's extensive efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, including lessons about Nazism for high school students, the preservation of historical sites, memorials and museums dedicated to the subject, and the country's legal efforts to prevent holocaust denial, Nazi symbols and slogans.
But many Brazilians seemed to have gotten a different message, prompting a fierce debate about what the Nazis' ideology was, and even whether the Holocaust itself took place.
Some commentators challenged the idea that the Nazis were 'right-wing', saying they were really a left-wing movement, as evidenced by their official name, the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The fact that Weimar Germany's communist, socialist, and social democratic parties were the Nazis' chief political opponents, and that leaders of these groups were imprisoned or even killed didn't seem to matter.
The Holocaust denial prompted the German Embassy to respond. "The Holocaust is a historical fact, with proof and testimony that can be found in many parts of Europe," it wrote.
Others users stepped in to challenge their fellow countrymen's claims, one user saying he admired "the audacity" of Brazilians coming to the German Embassy's Facebook page to accuse the Embassy of not knowing German history. Others apologized "on behalf of teachers and future teachers of history of this country," which they said have obviously failed to educate some people on 20th century history.
"Even the German Embassy knows that Nazism is extreme-right, but the average Brazilian prefers to believe that it was on the left because an extreme-right wing politician said so. Depressing," one user wrote. "Sorry for the ignorance of my countrymen in the comments," another added.
The current election cycle has been marked by extreme political polarization in the South American country, and marred by voter disillusionment and concerns about fake news and extreme rhetoric.