A vitriolic feud between German authorities and the Church of Scientology has escalated into a transatlantic conflict in the wake of accusations by American celebrities that the Bonn government is oppressing members of the group in the same way that the Nazi regime persecuted the Jews.
A controversial letter, signed by 34 prominent figures in the U.S. entertainment industry and published last week in the International Herald Tribune, was the latest salvo in an emotional publicity campaign waged by Scientologists and their supporters comparing the treatment of church members in contemporary Germany with that of Jews in Adolf Hitler's day.
The letter, including the names of actors Dustin Hoffman and Goldie Hawn, director Oliver Stone, novelists Mario Puzo and Gore Vidal, and TV talk show host Larry King, declared the signatories could not look the other way while Scientologists are marginalized and vilified in a manner reminiscent of the intolerance practiced by Hitler.
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