LONDON – Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone faced criticism from politicians and Jewish groups Saturday after being quoted as saying that Adolf Hitler "got things done."
In an interview with London’s The Times newspaper, Ecclestone expressed a preference for "strong leaders," citing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Max Mosley, outgoing head of Formula One’s governing body, as examples.
He was quoted as saying that democracy "hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one."
"In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done," Ecclestone was quoted as saying.
"In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator."
Ecclestone also said the West had been wrong to depose Iraq’s Sadam Hussein, saying : "He was the only one who could control that country."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews told The Times that Ecclestone’s views were "quite bizarre," and Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard said he was "either an idiot or morally repulsive." Labour Party lawmaker Denis MacShane told the newspaper that the remarks revealed ignorance of history and "a complete lack of judgment."
Calls to Ecclestone’s London office were not immediately returned Saturday.
Ecclestone, who owns F1’s commercial rights, is no stranger to controversial remarks. He once said women should dress in white "like all other domestic appliances."
In The Times interview, Ecclestone said that had been a joke, adding "I would love to have a good lady race driver and preferably black and Jewish too, but they might take maternity leave."