Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone apologized twice on Tuesday for praising Adolf Hitler’s ability to “get things done,” comments which prompted a German Jewish group to call for a boycott of the motor sport.
Ecclestone, 78, made the remarks in an interview published in the Times on Saturday. He used an article in the same newspaper to make his apology, and later issued a further statement to try to quell the furore caused by his remarks before this weekend’s German grand prix race.
“I unreservedly apologize for the remarks I made regarding Hitler in a recent interview. I am extremely distressed and embarrassed that these remarks have been used as suggesting that I support Hitler or Saddam Hussein,” Ecclestone said in his statement. “I would never support such people. I should never have been so foolish as to have been drawn into discussing these people, but the fault was entirely mine, which I deeply regret.”
Ecclestone had also referred to the former Iraqi president in his original interview, saying: “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He was the only one who could control that country.”
In the Times article on Tuesday, Ecclestone revisited his remarks about Hitler in an attempt to clarify what he was trying to say.
“During the 1930s Germany was facing an economic crisis but Hitler was able to rebuild the economy, building the autobahns and German industry,” he said.
“That was all I meant when I referred to him getting things done. I’m an admirer of good leadership, of politicians who stand by their convictions and tell the voters the truth,” Ecclestone said. “I’m not an admirer of dictators, who rule by terror.”