ADL Speaks Out Against Lars von Trier's Nazi Comments (Exclusive)

Lars von Trier - Cannes Film Festival - 2011
Francois Guillot/Getty Images

"He seems to be struggling with some personal ghosts," the group's national director Abraham H. Foxman tells THR.

The Anti-Defamation League is speaking out against Danish director Lars von Trier, who announced he was a Nazi during a Cannes press conference Wednesday to promote his new movie, Melancholia. Watch here.

"He seems to be struggling with some personal ghosts," the group's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "This is one way I guess he resolved them, in a very, very bizarre way." FILM REVIEW: Melancholia

Von Trier -- who is no stranger to shocking comments -- said earlier Wednesday, "For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew. Then I met [Danish and Jewish director] Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler … I sympathize with him a bit.”

Continues Foxman to THR, "It's a bizarre outburst. I don't know what to make of it except that what we're seeing recently is, when somebody has a personal problem or is under intense pressure, it bursts out in an anti-Semitic fashion…. It certainly is insensitive to Jewish people and to Jewish history."

Foxman compares von Trier's comments to former Dior designer John Galliano, Charlie Sheen (who made controversial statements about Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre), Oliver Stone and Mel Gibson.

"Whatever the pressure tension is, the outburst relates to Jews in some classic anti-Semitic form," he says. "It's a bizarre striking out."

Von Trier went on to say he might title his next movie the Final Solution, to which Foxman says, "It was a diatribe with a crescendo that got worse."

"I'm struggling," Foxman admits. "I don't know where one begins. Asking for an apology? Where do you start?"

Later von Trier backtracked on his comments and said that he was joking, but Foxman tells THR, "He doesn't get it yet. Here's a guy who all his life thought he was Jewish. Guess he struggled with that to start with."

However, the ADL will not be urging people to skip his new film, Melancholia.

"We don't boycott," Foxman says. "I think if enough good people respond saying that this is so outrageous, so bizarre, he will rethink and figure out what he can do or say."

Twitter: @LKPE