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Zeman might apologize but says he is still right

President has not produced any evidence that pre-war journalist praised Hitler

Mariánské Lázně, west Bohemia, April 13 (ČTK) — President Miloš Zeman said he would apologize for saying the late Czech journalist Ferdinand Peroutka had written an essay entitled “Hitler is a Gentleman” if the essay was not found, “although I really read it,” Zeman told journalists today.

Zeman said Peroutka wrote even worse things during the Nazi occupation, for example considering Hitler the greatest of Germans.

Presidential Office spokesman Jiří Ovčáček has been searching for the article mentioned by Zeman for several weeks, but so far in vain.

Zeman’s claim has been challenged by experts.

The Ferdinand Peroutka Association calls on Zeman to either present the article or make a public apology. The association criticized Zeman for having connected Peroutka, who was imprisoned in concentration camps during the war with the fascination of intellectuals with Nazism.

Ovčáček said previously Peroutka experienced an intellectual failure before World War II.

The controversial statement was part of a speech Zeman made at an international conference in Prague in January on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. Using the purported article, Zeman claimed that Peroutka admired Nazism.

Peroutka (1895–1978) was an important journalist during the interwar period. He left the country after the 1948 communist coup and later worked for Radio Free Europe.

Zeman is known for making controversial statements, for which members of his Presidential Office have repeatedly had to provide explanations to those outraged, both home and abroad.

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