American actress Shirley MacLaine has sparked outrage by saying the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust may have been “karma from ages before”.

Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine

The 80-year old actress who won an oscar for Terms of Endearment, and has also stared in Downton Abbey, suggested in her memoir entitled ‘A Lifetime Of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses And A Few Things I Know For Sure’, that Holocaust victims may be “balancing their karma from ages before”

“When they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee.”

Reacting to the comment, a spokesperson for the Community Security Trust told the Mail: “The first impressions are that these comments will offend and bemuse many Jews – and many other people too.’

In addition to her comments regarding the Holocaust, she said that world renowned scientist Stephen Hawkins, who suffers from Motor-Neurone disease, brought the disease on himself.

She said “Did he ‘create’ the disease that has crippled him in order to learn to be dependent on caregivers and the kindness of strangers”, “so he could free his entire mind to the pursuit of knowledge?”

Disability rights groups have heavily criticised her.