Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event in Sheboygan, Wis, on Friday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

MILWAUKEE — In the midst of chastising Donald Trump on Saturday for showing intolerance toward Muslims, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told an audience here that some of his relatives died in the Holocaust as the result of “a lunatic … stirring up racial hatred.”

“On a personal note, some of you know I’m Jewish,” Sanders said during a town hall meeting here. “My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland. He came over, other people in his family did not come over. Those people died. Children died. … So that is in my heart, to see what a lunatic can do by stirring up racial hatred.”

Sanders’s apparent reference to Adolf Hitler directly followed his recollection of Trump’s controversial comments late last year about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country.

The senator from Vermont told his audience here that he and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim in Congress, visited a Washington mosque shortly afterward to denounce the Republican front-runner’s position and talk about “fighting Islamaphobia.”

Sanders said if he is elected president, “trust me, Muslims, or anybody in this country, are not going to live in fear because of their religion, because of the color of their skin, because of the country they came from. That is not what this country is about.”

Sanders then launched into his reflection on his family and the Holocaust.

During an appearance Sunday on ABC News's "This Week," Sanders tried to clarify his comments.

“I did not compare Trump to Hitler," he told host George Stephanopoulos after he played video of Sanders's remarks.

Sanders has made Trump a focus of his remarks for weeks now, accusing him of racism and bigotry. During an appearance Thursday in Sheboygan, Wis., Sanders referred to Trump as “a nutcase.”

Sanders is in Wisconsin this weekend campaigning in advance of the Wisconsin Democratic primary on Tuesday in which he faces Hillary Clinton.