Economist apologizes for remarks that offended Jews

Berlin - A leading German economist who came under fire for comparing attacks on business executives to anti-Semitism apologized for his remarks Monday.

Economist Hans-Werner Sinn sent a letter to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, saying he retracted his controversial statement.

"In every crisis, people look for scapegoats," Sinn said in an interview with the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel. "In the Great Crash of 1929, in Germany it was the Jews. Today it's executives."

Sinn, who heads the Munich-based IFO economic research institute, was roundly criticized by political parties and the Jewish community.

"In no way did I intended to compare the fate of Jews after 1933 with the current situation of executives," Sinn said in reference to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.

"My sole intention was to draw attention to the fact that failures in the system were the real causes of economic crises and needed to be uncovered and rectified."

Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm had called Sinn's comparison wrong and invalid, while Stephan J Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews, urged him to apologize.

"The comparison is appalling, absurd and absolutely out of place. It's an insult to the victims," Kramer told the newspaper Neuen Ruhr/Neuen Rhein Zeitung.

"I've never heard that executives were beaten up, murdered and locked up in concentration camps," Kramer said. (dpa)