The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called on President Donald Trump to fire Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, for what the center is calling “engaging in Holocaust denial” during his press briefing on Tuesday.
While discussing Syrian President Bashar Assad, Spicer brought up former German leader Adolf Hitler.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a — someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said.
He attempted to clarify his remarks at the podium.
“He was not using gas on his own people in the same way Assad was,” Spicer said.
He later clarified after the briefing.
“In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable,” Spicer said in a statement released by the White House.
Spicer appeared on CNN after 6 p.m. to apologize for his comments, calling them a “mistake,” “insensitive” and “wrong.”
“It was my blunder as you put it correctly,” Spicer said. “... I needed to make sure I clarified.”
Said Spicer: “When you make a mistake, you own it.”
“On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death. Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary. Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once,” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi also issued a statement calling for Spicer to be fired.
“While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust. Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements. Either he is speaking for the President, or the President should have known better than to hire him,” Pelosi said.
Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, including many in gas chambers at concentration camps. Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam, but were arrested by German Gestapo in August 1944. Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in October of 1944 at the age of 15.
In addition to using gas chambers, the Germans were accused of using poison gas against the Russians during World War II.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27), the White House issued a statement that did not mention Jews. “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror,” the statement said. The White House defended the lack of specific mention in its statement.