Pope Francis has warned people against resorting to populism, seen in Germany during the 1930s, to “vote for saviours like [Adolf] Hitler”. During an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday after United States President Donald Trump was sworn-in, the Catholic leader said it was too early to draw conclusions about him, but urged him to frame policies that prioritise ethical values and the poor.

The pontiff, however, drew parallels between Germany in 1933 and the US at present. “Germany...was looking for a leader, someone who would give her back her identity, and there was a little man named Adolf Hitler who said ‘I can do it,’” the Pope said. “Hitler did not steal power, he was elected by his people, and then, he destroyed his people.”

In an apparent reference to Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, Pope Francis said, “The Germans, at that time, also wanted to protect themselves with walls and barbed wire so others could not take away their identity.” He warned people against following the German example from the 1930s, when “Hitler gave them a deformed identity”. “We know what it produced,” he told the Spanish daily.

Protests against Trump and his extremist proposals were held across the US and in London, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand on January 21. Millions took to the streets to participate in the Women’s March worldwide against the newly-inducted US president.