SHIRLEY MACLAINE: Were Holocaust victims paying for sins in past lives? Her bizarre New Age views on topics such as reincarnation and UFOs have often left the public baffled. Now Shirley MacLaine has provoked widespread fury by claiming the victims of the Holocaust may have brought their fate upon themselves. The veteran Hollywood actress suggests the six million Jews and millions of others systematically murdered in Hitler’s death camps in the 1940s were ‘balancing their karma’ for crimes committed in past lives. She also suggests that cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking may have subconsciously given himself his debilitating motor neurone disease.  Miss MacLaine’s comments, in a recently published book, were attacked last night by Jewish campaigners and other activists as offensive and wrong. In her memoir, the 80-year-old, who won an Oscar for Terms Of Endearment, writes: ‘What if most Holocaust victims were 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.’ A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which campaigns against anti-Semitism, said: ‘The first impressions are that these comments will offend and bemuse many Jews – and many other people too.’ In her book What If…, Miss MacLaine, who was raised a Baptist but is well known for her unconventional views on reincarnation and alien life, suggests Professor Hawking had subconsciously brought his crippling medical condition on himself. She says he may have created his illness in order to ‘free his mind’ from the needs of his body, so he could focus completely on his scientific research. Miss MacLaine, who has previously insisted that she lived on Atlantis in an earlier life, claims to be friends with the scientist, whose life inspired the award-winning film The Theory Of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne. Her book – subtitled A Lifetime Of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses And A Few Things I Know For Sure – poses the question: ‘Did he “create” the disease that has crippled him in order to learn to be dependent on caregivers and the kindness of strangers so that he could free his entire mind to the pursuit of knowledge? More