US congressman slammed for filming ‘political’ video in Auschwitz gas chamber
‘This is why homeland security must be squared away ... our military must be invincible,’ says Clay Higgins in now-deleted video
Poland’s chief rabbi on Wednesday condemned a US congressman for recording a video inside a gas chamber at the former Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, calling it inappropriate activity at a memorial site.
“This is a place to be quiet. This is a place to meditate, to think - not a place to make videos and to make statements,” Rabbi Michael Schudrich said of the site located in the southern city of Oswiecim.
“And certainly the idea of using Auschwitz and the gas chamber to express a political point of view is very disturbing to me.”
The five-minute video - for which Republican congressman Clay Higgins has since apologised - shows him touring the site where 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, died, and commenting on the horrors of the camp that Nazi Germany set up after occupying Poland during World War II.
“This is why homeland security must be squared away. Why our military must be invincible,” Higgins says while standing inside a gas chamber during the video released earlier this month.
“It’s hard to walk away from gas chambers and ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment, unwavering commitment, to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world.”
Officials from the museum now located on the site of the former death camp also voiced their disapproval of the video.
“Everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage,” the museum tweeted on Tuesday.
Higgins said in a statement Wednesday that he filmed the video “with great humility” but admitted that “my message has caused pain”.
“My Auschwitz video has been removed, and my sincere apology for any unintended pain is extended,” he added in the statement released by his congressional office.