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Hitler row dominates Germany on poll-eve

Berlin, Sept. 21 (Reuters): A row sparked when a German minister allegedly compared the US President’s methods to Adolf Hitler’s overshadowed the final day before tomorrow’s election in Germany that promises a photo finish.

Justice minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin has denied a newspaper report she likened George W. Bush’s stance on Iraq to Hitler’s use of foreign policy to hide domestic woes.

Yet she still faces calls to quit and charges from Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that US-German relations have been “poisoned”.

It was unclear what impact, if any, the last-minute furore sparked by the report would have on tomorrow’s result.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s firm stand against any war in Iraq has benefited his centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), but his rival Edmund Stoiber and the conservatives accuse the government of isolating Germany and even threatening exports.

“West Asia and Iraq need a lot of new peace, but they don’t need a new war,” Schroeder said to cheers from the 5,000-strong crowd in the centre of Rostock.

He said Germany had every right to be self-confident in its international policy given that it had demonstrated its readiness to take part in front-line action for peace.

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