Both ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and former United States President George W. Bush have been out of office for some time. But the enmity which they developed for each other while they were in office seems to have survived.
In his memoirs, called "Decision Points" and released on Tuesday, Bush writes that Schröder told him in January 2002 that the US president had his full support when it came to his aggressive Iraq policy. Bush wrote that Schröder indicated he would even stand behind Bush should the US go to war against the country.
On Tuesday evening in Berlin, Schröder denied that he ever made such a promise. "The former American president is not telling the truth," he said. He said the meeting in question focused on the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and whether those responsible were supported by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Just as I did during my subsequent meetings with the American president, I made it clear that, should Iraq ... prove to have provided protection and hospitality to al-Qaida fighters, Germany would reliably stand beside the US," Shröder said. "This connection, however, as it became clear during 2002, was false and constructed."
Schröder transformed his opposition to the war against Iraq into a campaign issue during his 2002 run for the Chancellery. Indeed, his refusal to support Bush on the issue very likely resulted in his re-election in a very close vote. German-US relations were icy for much of Schröder's second term in office.
In his book, Bush also wrote that he was shocked and furious in 2002 when he was compared to Adolf Hitler by the German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin due to his Iraq policies. He wrote that it was difficult to imagine anything more insulting than to be compared to Hitler by a German official.
Gmelin was forced to resign over the comments.