A Holocaust Museum board member said he’d be “honored” to walk Sean Spicer through the memorial after the White House press secretary claimed that Adolf Hitler never used chemical gas.
Spicer’s comment, delivered on the Jewish holiday of Passover, drew immediate and widespread condemnation, including from Chelsea Clinton who suggested Spicer visit Washington D.C.’s Holocaust Museum.
Eric Ortner, a Hollywood producer and member of the Holocaust Memorial council echoed the former first daughter’s thought in a tweet directed at Spicer: “.@PressSec would be honored 2 walk you thru the Holocaust Museum. Just down the street from U.”
During his Tuesday press briefing, Spicer mistakenly said that Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II in a botched attempt to shame Russia’s alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — who used sarin gas against his own people earlier this month.
When a reporter asked Spicer to clarify, the White House spokesman seemed to dig himself into an even deeper hole.
“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no … he was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said, adding that Hitler didn’t drop gas on his people but instead, “brought them into the Holocaust centers,” presumably referring to Nazi death camps.
While Ortner declined to address Spicer’s comments directly, he told TheWrap that “sarin gas, which caused our president to order airstrikes on Assad, was originally engineered by German scientists for Adolf Hitler for the purpose of eliminating Jews and adversaries including the allied forces.” (The German military built a sarin factory in 1943, but Hitler never used it).
Nazi Germany did use another gas. Hitler systematically killed millions of people in various death camps, most notably at Auschwitz, where the weapon of choice was Zyklon B, a form of hydrogen cyanide.
“Nearly 80 years later, evil in the world still exists and our responsibility to remember history’s lessons has never been greater than now,” Ortner told TheWrap.
Another Holocaust Museum board member, Ben Rhodes seemed to agree, tweeting, “Diminishing Hitler’s crimes from podium can be used for purposes of Holocaust denial and whitewashing history.”
And earlier in the day, the Anne Frank Center also weighed in, demanding President Trump fire Spicer over his “Holocaust denial.”
“On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed million of Jews to death,” the center’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, said in a statement. “Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once.”
Spicer has since apologized for his comments telling CNN’S Wolf Blitzer: “I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas.”
“Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
— Eric Ortner (@eortner) April 11, 2017
Agree. Even if not intent, diminishing Hitler's crimes from podium can be used for purposes of Holocaust denial and whitewashing history https://t.co/vYG8TCKne6
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) April 11, 2017