Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with moderator and political science professor Lynn Vavreck at UCLA on Wednesday. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / March 5, 2014)

By Maeve Reston
March 5, 2014, 3:36 p.m.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she was merely comparing the tactics used by Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin — and not equating the men themselves — when she drew a parallel between Hitler’s efforts to resettle Germans in the late 1930s to Putin’s recent moves to issue Russian passports to citizens in Ukraine with ties to Russia.

The eyebrow-raising remarks were offered at a private fundraiser in Long Beach on Tuesday.

“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” Clinton said, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram. “The Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying, ‘They’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people’ — and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

In an address at UCLA on Wednesday, Clinton reiterated that she was not putting Putin in the category of Hitler, just noting that claims by Putin and other Russian leaders that they needed to go into Crimea to protect Russian minorities were “reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities” in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

“So I just want everybody to have a little bit more perspective,” Clinton said. “I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we can perhaps learn from this tactic that has been used before.”

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