The Louisiana congressman who was widely criticized for recording a video inside a gas chamber at the notorious Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Poland has taken down the video and apologized.
Republican Rep. Clay Higgins, who serves on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, recorded himself in a selfie video inside a former gas chamber where Jewish prisoners were systematically murdered during World War II.
“I filmed the Auschwitz message with great humility. My intent was to offer a reverent homage to those who were murdered in Auschwitz and to remind the world that evil exists, that free nations must remember, and stand strong,” Higgins said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“However, my message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect,” the statement continues. “For that, my own heart feels sorrow. Out of respect to any who may feel that my video posting was wrong or caused pain, I have retracted my video.”
In the five-minute video, posted on YouTube July 1, Higgins declared, “Man’s inhumanity to man can be quite shocking,” and noted in part that Auschwitz serves as a reminder ” to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world.”
It’s not Higgins’ message, however, but rather his decision to record it inside the gas chamber, that was criticized. The official Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account tweeted, “Everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.”
That comment was followed by a photo, captioned, “This is what all visitors see at the entrance to the building where first homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz was created by the SS.” The photo is of an engraved stone sign 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.”
“I have always stood with Israel and all Jewish people, and I always will. We live in a dangerous world, and massive forces of evil do indeed yet exist,” Higgins’ statement ends. “We must all stand united against those evils. My Auschwitz video has been removed, and my sincere apology for any unintended pain is extended.”