GOP Congressman Criticized For Auschwitz Gas Chamber Video

Tom Williams/CQPHO

A GOP congressman is facing backlash from officials at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland after posting a video of himself walking around inside an Auschwitz gas chamber and using the memorial as a “stage” to promote the U.S. military.

Museum officials spoke out against Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) on Twitter Tuesday, retweeting a story about the recent video from New Orleans Online and saying “there should be mournful silence” inside a former gas chamber.

“It’s not a stage,” officials said.

Later Tuesday, the Auschwitz Memorial account tweeted a photo of the sign visitors see when entering the building that holds the first homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz that says “Please maintain silence here: remember their suffering and show respect for their memory.”

Filming himself inside the gas chambers, Higgins’ video, which published on YouTube Saturday, features the U.S. representative explaining what happened to the millions of people killed during the Holocaust and said the deaths at Nazi concentration camps are why the U.S. military “must be invincible.”

“The cyanide pellets activated when they hit oxygen. After about 20 minutes everyone was dead and then slave labor would go in the room and drag bodies of those poor souls out and bring them and incinerate them in these ovens,” Higgins said, filming with the camera toward his face as he showed his audience around the gas chamber memorial. “There were three sets of ovens like that. This is why homeland security must be square away, why our military must be invincible.”

He went on to film and explain the “suffocation cells” at the memorial and said “this is why we must remember these things, man’s inhumanity to man can be quite shocking.”

As he left the museum he spoke to the camera again, saying the world is a “much smaller place” than it was during World War II and said the U.S. is “susceptible to terror like this, horror like this.”

“It’s hard to walk way from gas chambers, ovens, without a very sober feeling of commitment, unwavering commitment to make damn sure the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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