Barack Obama appeared to compare Donald Trump’s presidency to Hitler’s rise to power during a speech in Chicago on Tuesday.
The former president was speaking at an event thrown by the Economic Club of Chicago at a Hilton hotel when he made the remarks.
Without mentioning the current president, Obama told the gathered audience of 1,800: ‘We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly.
‘That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate.
‘Sixty million people died. So you’ve got to pay attention.’
The comments were part of a wider warning to the audience not to grow ‘complacent’ and take democracy for granted.
He also spoke of a ‘nativist mistrust’ which has ‘swept the world’, in the words of a Chicago Business reporter who attended the event.
Although not explicitly directed at Trump, his comments have been widely interpreted as an attack on the president and his America First agenda.
Elsewhere in the Q&A session, Obama spoke of the importance of the US’s role in international development.
‘Things don’t happen internationally if we don’t put our shoulder to the wheel.
‘No other country has the experience and bandwidth and ideals…If the U.S. doesn’t do it, it’s not going to happen,’ he said.
In another apparent jibe at the media-wary president, Obama said that during his time in office, he ‘understood the principle that the free press was vital.’
The president’s fans were outraged by the remarks which they said drew a direct comparison to the Nazi dictator.