German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been accused of comparing climate activists to Nazis after a group of them interrupted his speech during a Catholic Day panel event in Stuttgart last week.

Scholz was speaking about phasing out coal and its impact on workers when one person allegedly tried to climb on stage.

"I'll be honest: These black-clad displays at various events by the same people over and over again remind me of a time that is, thank God, long gone by," he said on camera, according to a report in CNN.

The video soon went viral on social media with users coming down heavily on him for his alleged reference to the Nazis. Many Germans believe that Scholz was referring to the Nazis' SS black-uniformed corps.

He later accused them of manipulating the subject instead of holding discussions around it. "I have also been to events where five people sat dressed in the same way, each had a well-rehearsed stance, and then they do it again every time," he said.

"And that's why I think that is not a discussion, that is not participation in a discussion, but an attempt to manipulate events for one's own purposes. One should not do this."

His comments have attracted much criticism with climate activist Luisa Neubauer comparing it to a "scandal."

"Where does one begin? In just one half-sentence, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic relativizes the Nazi regime and, in a paradoxical way, also the climate crisis," she wrote on Twitter. Neubauer has also started an online petition demanding for the chancellor to clarify exactly what he meant.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the German government has rejected the idea that Scholz was making the comparison with Nazis, adding that the accusations are "completely absurd."

"I would not want to comment on [the statements] here. But I can say that such a comparison is, of course, completely absurd," said government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann.

Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: POOL via AFP / Christophe Gateau