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Austria's Chancellor Likens Hungary's Refugee Policy to Nazi Deportations

Austria's chancellor criticized Hungary for its handling of the refugee crisis on Saturday, likening the country's policies to Nazi deportations during the Holocaust.
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Austria's chancellor has criticized Hungary for its handling of the refugee crisis, likening the country's policies to Nazi deportations during the Holocaust.

Thousands of refugees are crossing the border to Hungary, an eastern outpost of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone, every day, and many are traveling on to the continent's more prosperous west and north in what is Europe's worst refugee crisis since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Hungary has taken a hard line against refugees, building a 100-mile fence along its border with Serbia. Emergency powers, expected to come into force when the fence is complete, will allow Hungarian authorities to use live ammunition against those entering the country illegally.

Full Coverage: Europe's Border Crisis

On Sept. 3, migrants boarded a train in Budapest in the belief that they were heading to the border with Austria but the train was stopped 22 miles west of the capital in the town of Bicske, where Hungary has a camp for asylum seekers.

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann likened Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's treatment of refugees to the Nazis' deportation of Jews and others to concentration camps.

"Sticking refugees in trains and sending them somewhere completely different to where they think they're going reminds us of the darkest chapter of our continent's history," he said Saturday.

Related: European Migrant Crisis — How You Can Help

Hungary dismissed Faymann's comments as "utterly unworthy of a 21st century European leader" and summoned Austria's ambassador. Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said the Austrian chancellor had been pursuing a "campaign of lies" against Hungary for weeks that made it harder to find a common European solution to the crisis.

Refugees on Saturday continued to stream into Germany, favored for its generous welfare system and relatively liberal asylum laws. At Munich's main train station around 9,200 arrived by early evening and authorities said they would struggle to cope.