Congressman criticized for Auschwitz video

Congressman Higgins apologized for “unintended pain” caused by a video he recorded inside the gas chamber at Auschwitz.

A US congressman apologized Wednesday for what he called the “unintended pain” caused by a video he recorded inside the gas chamber of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp in Poland, an action that critics called inappropriate and disrespectful.

In May, Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins visited Auschwitz, where more than a million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and filmed a five-minute video in which he describes the horrors that took place in the gas chamber, adding that “this is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible.”

“It’s hard to walk away from gas chambers and ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment,” Higgins says outside the building. “Unwavering commitment to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world.”

Higgins, a former sheriff’s captain, ends the clip with an image that he used during his campaign for Congress last year: With a badge on his chest, he bows his head reverentially, his face partially obscured by the brim of his cowboy hat. The image is superimposed over images of the US and Israeli flags.

Higgins posted the clip on YouTube and on his Facebook page on Saturday.

In a rare incident, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum criticized the video Tuesday in a Twitter post, saying the building where genocide was committed against thousands of Jews should not be used as a stage.

The tweet is followed by another one, a picture of a sign at the site which calls to respect it through silence.

On Wednesday, Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the video contained political rhetoric that was inappropriate, although he didn’t think Higgins had bad intentions.

In a statement issued later Wednesday, Higgins said he did not intend to offend or disrespect anyone.

“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 his statement. “However, my message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect. 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.”

Higgins added that he was offering a “sincere apology for any unintended pain.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff