BERLIN — The International Auschwitz Committee is criticizing a leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party for comments "clearly in Hitler's footsteps."

The group, founded by Auschwitz death camp survivors, said Wednesday after AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland's opinion piece defending populism in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that "now all democrats recognize the AfD for what it is."

They say "Auschwitz survivors know Gauland's strategy from their own life experiences during the Nazi years, to stigmatize people and characterize them as alien."

The comments come after historian Wolfgang Benz highlighted passages that Gauland used in his attack on members of the "globalized class" as evoking Hitler's rhetoric.

Gauland's adviser Michael Klonovsky said neither he nor Gauland were aware of Hitler's speech describing an "early form of globalization with anti-Semitic connotations."