Spanish newspaper El Pais has retracted a column that compared German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler and apologised for its "inappropriate" content after sparking an indignant internet outcry.
In the column, published on the paper's website and in its Andalusia regional edition, economist Juan Torres Lopez of the University of Seville wrote that "Angela Merkel, like Hitler, has declared war on the rest of the continent, this time to guarantee [Germany] its vital economic space".
"She punishes us to protect her large companies and banks and also to hide from her electorate the shameful model that has seen the poverty rate in her country rise to its highest level in 20 years, 25 per cent of employees earn less than €9.15 an hour and half the population represent ... a miserable 1 per cent of all the nation's wealth."
After the column provoked shocked reactions online, the newspaper took it down from its website and apologised.
"El Pais has withdrawn the article 'Germany against Europe' ... because it contained statements that this newspaper considers inappropriate," it said.
The article had set commentators and German Twitter users aflutter.
"To put Merkel's policies on a level with Hitler's is as loco [crazy] as it gets," Mathieu von Rohr, Paris bureau chief for German weekly Der Spiegel, wrote on Twitter.
"Of course Merkel's [and everybody's] stance may be criticised. But to use Hitler is incendiary, stupid and irresponsible."
But the retraction also drew criticism.
"Shameful El Pais censoring an article by J. Torres Lopez for criticising Merkel," wrote Twitter user Adrian Arcas Munoz.