Brazilian secretary of culture Roberto Alvim was fired on Friday after apparently quoting Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels in a video posted a day earlier, CNN reports.
The office of President Jair Bolsonaro announced Alvim's dismissal in a statement, explaining that his position had become untenable despite issuing an apology.
"I repeat our rejection of totalitarian and genocidal ideologies, as well as any allusion to it," read the statement.
"We also share our total and unrestricted support to the Jewish community, of whom we are friends and share the same values."
In the video, which was posted to the secretariat's Twitter account but subsequently deleted, Alvim announced a national award for the arts and made the case for Brazilian art to have nationalistic ideals.
"The Brazilian art of the next decade will be heroic and it will be national, it'll be endowed with great capacity for emotional involvement and equally it will be deeply committed to the urgent aspirations of our people, or it will be nothing," he said.
Many Brazilians were quick to spot that the statement resembled a quote featured in Peter Longerich's biography of Goebbels, which reads, "The German art of the coming decades will be heroic, will be steelily romantic, will be unsentimentally objective, will be nationalistic with grand pathos, it will be both committed and unifying -- or it will be nothing."
Alvim rejected the assertion that he quoted Goebbels as a "fallacy" of the left.
He said he would never quote Goebbels, but acknowledged there was "a coincidence with a sentence from a speech from Goebbels" in the video.
However, in addition to the Goebbels similarity, the background music playing during Alvim's announcement is from Richard Wagner's opera "Lohengrin," which Nazi leader Adolf Hitler said had played a defining role in his life.
Controversy over Alvim's video drew a response from the German embassy in Brazil, which called Nazi rule the "darkest chapter in German history."
"We oppose any attempt to banalize or even glorify the age of National Socialism," said the embassy in a tweet quoted by CNN.
Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house of Brazilian Congress, said in a post on Twitter that Alvim had "gone beyond all limits."
He said the video was "unacceptable" and urged Bolsonaro to remove him from the post of culture secretary.
The Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country's main Jewish organization, also spoke out against the video.
"To emulate [Goebbels'] view... is a frightening sign of his vision of culture, which must be combated and contained," it said in a statement that called for Alvim's immediate removal.
"Brazil, which sent brave soldiers to combat Nazism on European soil, doesn't deserve it," the statement read.
Alvim later apologized for what he described as an "involuntary mistake," saying he had been unaware of the origin of the sentence in his video.
Bolsonaro, who is a supporter of Israel, himself caused an uproar last April after he asserted during a meeting with evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro that the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven.
“We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future,” Bolsonaro said, but also made clear that actions are needed for the Holocaust not to be repeated.
The Brazilian President later clarified the remarks to Israel’s Ambassador to Brazil, saying, I wrote in the guestbook of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem: ‘Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future.’ Therefore, any other interpretation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my Jewish friends.”
“Forgiveness is something personal, my speech was never meant to be used in a historical context, especially one where millions of innocent people were murdered in a cruel genocide,” he added.
Brazil recently opened a trade office in Jerusalem, the first step in keeping with Bolsonaro’s election promise to move his country’s embassy to the Israeli capital.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)