Reds owner Schott off her mouth about Hitler again

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Pressured by Major League Baseball officials, Schott has apologized belatedly for her remarks praising Adolf Hitler's efforts at revitalizing Germany.

Acting Major League commissioner Bud Selig, who is Jewish and the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, did not discipline Schott but reportedly said he would continue to monitor the situation.

Forcing Schott to sell the Reds or suspending her were among the measures some Jews sought after Schott praised Adolf Hitler's early efforts at revitalizing Germany.

"Everything you read, when he [Hitler] came in, he was good," said Schott in an interview aired by ESPN Sunday night.

"They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going. He went nuts, he went berserk. I think his own generals tried to kill him, didn't they? Everybody knows he was good at the beginning, but he just went too far."

ESPN interviewer Sal Paolantonio had asked Schott about a swastika she still keeps in her house. Schott discussed the swastika in a November 1992 interview with The New York Times, and said her family members in Germany had suffered during World War II.

In 1993 she also said Hitler was initially good for Germany but went too far, remarks that, along with racial slurs, earned her a $25,000 fine and suspension.

"The community is pretty upset," said Aubrey Herman, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, in an interview before Schott's apology.

Michael Rapp, executive director of Cincinnati's Jewish Community Relations Council, called the remarks "outrageous."

"I am personally appalled, but of all of Marge Schott's strengths, sensitivity to intergroup relations or knowledge of European history has never been among them," Rapp said.

A fan boycott or forcing Schott to sell the team are not realistic responses, said Rapp. "Fans didn't boycott three years ago when she made remarks about Japanese and blacks. By and large, boycotts don't work. And there's no way you can force her to sell the team."

Symbolic achievements like yelling and screaming and picketing may make people feel better, but at the end of the day, there is no real change, Rapp added.

The American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League issued statements calling on Selig and other baseball team owners to take action against Schott.

But Rapp said such statements from national Jewish organizations that do not have offices in Cincinnati "are public relations gimmicks and headline grabbers."

"They might play well in New York where their contributors might be," he added.

Jewish community relations in Cincinnati must be determined by Jews who live along the Ohio River, not the East River, said Rapp.

"I want an unequivocal public apology to the Jewish community, an acknowledgment that what she said was wrong, hateful and hurtful, and a declaration that she won't repeat this sort of bigotry again."

In her apology Tuesday, Schott said she regretted "offending many people. I do not and never have condoned Adolf Hitler's policies of hatred, militarism, and genocide," The New York Times quoted her as saying.

"Anyone who knows me knows how much I respect the brave soldiers who sacrificed so much to defeat the Nazis in World War II," she said. "I also know that many American families, including mine, had relatives in Europe who suffered greatly during the war."

Phil Baum, AJCongress executive director, said another suspension would be "pointless because she will return as unrepentant as ever."

Selig "should put together a committee at once to find a buyer for the team who would make Schott an offer she can't possibly refuse and get her out of baseball's executive suites."

Schott's pro-Hitler remark is the latest in a series of insensitive remarks and actions in the controversial Reds' owner's career.

When umpire John McSherry had a fatal heart attack behind home plate at Cincinnati's opening game, and the game was postponed, Schott complained about the stoppage. Later, to apologize to the umpires, she sent a basket of flowers previously given to her.

The ADL's assistant national director, Kenneth Jacobson, told The New York Times that Schott's apology was "the beginning of progress."