White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US..
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
Despite an apology White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued over his comment that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons, the International March of the Living on Thursday joined the chorus of voices condemning the remark.
As thousands of people around the world prepare to travel to Poland next week to participate in the annual march from Auschwitz to Birkenau to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, March of The Living said it was “outraged, angered and ashamed by the totally erroneous and blatantly insulting statements” made by Spicer on Tuesday.
Spicer had made the comment during a daily news briefing about the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Syria, during which he compared Syrian President Bashar Assad to Hitler, and said, “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Spicer’s comments overlooked the fact that many of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, in addition to other victims, were murdered in gas chambers in European concentration camps.
Spicer later apologized for comment after they sparked an uproar, telling CNN: “It was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done it and I won’t do it again.”
“We, the survivors, the descendants, the friends, the educators and students of the Holocaust believe that the statement made by Mr. Spicer fits the broad description of bolstering the foundations of Holocaust denial and it is this that causes us grave concern,” read a statement signed by March of the Living chairman Shmuel Rosenman and president Phyllis Greenberg Heideman.
“In a world already divided by political and ideological differences stemming from bias, distorted and misguided information, we stand with historical fact and the veracity of survivor testimony and would hope that those in positions with a public presence and influence would do the same,” they continued.
They added that they were “deeply troubled” that a spokesman for the US administration “could harbor such a belief and make such an ill-informed and incorrect reference to methods of extermination employed by the Third Reich during World War II.
“There is no question that heinous and horrific methods were mainstay in the Holocaust and that these methods included the use of chemical warfare,” the statement stressed. “There is no question that these methods were used at the direct order of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. For Mr. Spicer or anyone else to misrepresent or alter this or any other documented fact relating to the Holocaust gives the unconscionable possibility to deprive both the victim and the survivor the legitimacy and dignity they so rightfully deserve.”
Reuters contributed to this report.