A U.S. congressman’s video taken inside a gas chamber at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz has drawn criticism from the museum and memorial that oversees the site where hundreds of thousands of people were murdered during the Holocaust.
During a trip to the concentration camp, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) shot a roughly five-minute video of his visit, filming and narrating as he viewed the train tracks that carried prisoners to the camp and piles of shoes left by prisoners.
Midway through the video, Higgins films himself inside an Auschwitz gas chamber, explaining how Nazi guards would murder their victims by dropping poisonous gas through a hatch in the ceiling as he turned his camera towards the hatch. He then moved in front of the nearby ovens, explaining how the camp’s guards would force other prisoners to load the dead bodies for cremation.
That portion of the video prompted a response from the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, which wrote on Twitter that “everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.”
In a subsequent post, the museum posted a photo of the sign that stands outside the gas chamber, which 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.”
Higgins used the video as evidence that the U.S. must remain vigilant against threats to its national security, remarking as he stood next to the ovens where the bodies of Nazi victims were burned that, “this is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible.”
“This is why we must remember these things. Man’s inhumanity to man can be quite shocking,” he said later in the video, as he stood next to a “suffocation cell” where prisoners were tortured by being kept in extremely cramped conditions.
“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,” Higgins said. “It’s hard to walk away from 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.”