gas chamber Auschwitz-Birkenau
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Video of Auschwitz as a Political Gaffe: A Positive Effect

“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,” Clay Higgins — who is a former police officer and represents the third congressional district of Louisiana as a Republican freshman member of the House of Representatives of the United States — said in a press release. “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.”

His public statement concluded with the following message: “The atrocities that happened at Auschwitz were truly despicable, and we must never let history repeat itself in such a way. 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. We must all stand united against those evils. My Auschwitz video has been removed, and my sincere apology for any unintended pain is extended.”

Video of Auschwitz as a Political Gaffe: A Positive Effect

I have watched the video in question — which is embedded below from the official YouTube channel of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans but could be removed at any time — and while I can certainly understand how Higgins caused a significant controversy in the minds of many people, I also believe that he was truly affected by his experience of visiting the former concentration camp which is now a museum. He simply chose to express himself in what many people consider to be in an inappropriate way.

I know I was truly affected when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau back in April of this year, as indicated in this article pertaining to an elderly woman who survived the Holocaust and told a story of a little girl who lost her mother “in the smoke” at the former concentration camp.

I have walked in many of the same areas as Higgins showed in his video. I would not be surprised if we just missed each other. I have plenty of photographs of my visit — such as the one featured at the top of this article and shown again here:

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The photograph was taken from inside the building where thousands of innocent people were murdered with poisonous gas and incinerated in ovens thereafter. Look to the right of the photograph. Two people are comforting each other in sorrow after seeing what they saw in this building of horror. Few places of interest have that profound of an effect on the emotions of visitors.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This is a view of that same window; but from the outside looking in.

An article with photographs of the inside of this building is forthcoming — as well as additional articles with more photographs. Those articles will not be easy for me to compose — and probably not easy for you to read.


The issue people have with the video recorded by Higgins is that he used it for a political message for protecting the United States — and, to a lesser extent, using Auschwitz as a “television studio” — which was definitely the wrong thing to do. He could have expressed his thoughts and feelings in a much better way which would be more sensitive to the memory of the people who suffered and died there. Additionally, his analogy is at best inaccurate, as he is mixing two different causes and effects, in my opinion…

…but I firmly believe that we should never forget — lest we relive history again as a result. In my opinion, discussion and continued discourse pertaining to Auschwitz — and what happened during World War II which led to what is now known as the Holocaust — is a positive effect to keep the horrendous memory alive from which future generations can learn and hopefully improve our world to become a better place in which to live.

Awareness can easily fade with time…

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Thx Brian for posting the video. I will disagree with you in 1 way.I see nothing wrong with the video and would hope that Higgins puts it back up and uses it.Its a very powerful message that words alone cant describe and all too often people like to say any white person from The South is an anti-semite and always blames The Jews for everything and are holocaust deniers. So when a Southerner comes forth that doesnt fit that mold they attack him.

    Rep Higgins please repost your video and stand tall with your message

    Lastly if The govt of Israel uses Yad VeShem also for PR reasons why cant Higgins

    1. I am not sure that we are in complete disagreement on that one issue, craz.

      As I stated in the article, he was clearly affected by what he saw — and like you, I believe that should be conveyed publicly if he felt the need to do so. My only issue with the video is that others consider it insensitive and it is used for a different message pertaining to the United States. He should have kept the video — how shall I say — organic, in my opinion; and left the political statement out.

      You raised some very cogent points in your comment, in my opinion. Thank you for posting them.

    2. There are signs that very clearly ask you to be respectful and silent. If you want to make a video talking about your experience there, go ahead, but don’t do it in a gas chamber. It’d be the equivalent of a gun control advocate making a video about it inside a Sandy Hook classroom.

      1. You are correct about the sign and its instructions, Ben.

        In Polish, Hebrew and English, the message on the sign — literally etched in stone — clearly states:

        “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.”

        When I visited, many people went through there without saying a single word.

  2. Guys, I will assume that Higgins had permission to make the video and most likely there was 1 or more reps from the place going around with them. If that is the case then they would have held back any other visitor so that the video wouldnt be full with people and especially talking. The sign is so that you dont distrub others who are in the same room. The tour guide we had spoke to us in every room we went into, and at times they waited till it was just us if there were others in the room when we got there, but didnt stop if others walked in after we did

    Now if Higgins taped it w/o permission to do so that is another matter if there are signs against doing so

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