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BERLIN (Reuters) — The German government said on Wednesday that responsibility for the Holocaust lay with the Germans, after Israel’s prime minister sparked controversy before a visit to Berlin by saying a Muslim elder had convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate Jews.

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said when asked about Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

Hours before leaving for Berlin, Netanyahu referred in a speech to a series of attacks by Muslims against Jews in Palestine during the 1920s that he said were instigated by the then Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu said in the speech. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’

(Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

Photo: Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference after an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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