John Wang/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Congressman Clay Higgins was criticized Tuesday by officials at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, after the Louisiana Republican posted to YouTube a five-minute video he narrated from inside a former gas chamber at the Nazi death camp.
“A great sense of dread comes over you in this place,” Higgins, who serves on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, says in the video. “Man’s inhumanity to man can be quite shocking.”
In another part of the video, the former law enforcement officer says, “The world’s a smaller place now than it was in World War II. The United States is more accessible to terror like this, horror like this. It’s hard to walk away from the 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.”
Also in the video, shot at the Nazi death camp in Poland, Higgins says the gas chamber killings took only about 20 minutes and show why the U.S. military “must be invincible.”
In response to the video, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum tweeted that the decision to film inside a former gas chamber was inappropriate.
“Everyone has the right to personal reflections,” read the first tweet. “However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.”
A subsequent tweet included a photo of a plaque at Auschwitz that reads, “You are in a building where the SS murdered thousands of people. Please maintain silence here: remember their suffering and show respect for their memory.”
On Wednesday, Johnathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a leading civil rights organization that primarily combats anti-Semitism, called on Higgins to take down the video recorded at Auschwitz.
“As a site for reflection, one that often evokes deep personal pain for survivors and their families, Auschwitz should never be politicized or used as a platform for giving personal views. The museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau lies on sacred ground. It is a burial site and a memorial to the estimated 1.1 million prisoners who were exterminated or tortured inside the camp’s walls. It is a permanent testament to the brutality of the Nazi regime, and a reminder of why the world should never turn away when forces of hatred and prejudice lead to genocide.
“We hope Congressman Higgins will realize the pain and hurt he has caused, and that, in doing so, he will remove his video from circulation,” he added.
A spokesman for Higgins has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
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