Simon Wiesenthal Center Shocked by Sean Spicer’s Hitler Comparison; Hands Putin a Victory

*Note: SWC statement delayed due to Passover Holiday

April 12, 2017

The Simon Wiesenthal Center was shocked by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s absurd and inappropriate statement alleging that Syrian President Assad is worse than Adolph Hitler. The comparison, which was made just before the annual commemoration of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, was beyond inappropriate. The Simon Wiesenthal Center endorsed President Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian airbase after Assad’s forces deployed chemical weapons that targeted and killed Syrian civilians, including women and children. Our Center also has called on the international community to try Assad for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

However, Assad’s crimes pale in comparison to the unprecedented scope of the genocide, murder, mayhem and global conflict unleashed by Hitler and his supporters in Germany and across Europe.

• 20 million Russians and other citizens of the former Soviet Union were killed by Hitler’s forces during WWII.

• The first victims of Hitler were his German opponents who were dispatched as early as 1933 to brutal concentration camps.

• German Jews were the earliest targets for brutal Nazi mistreatment starting with stripping them of their rights and culmination with many of them murdered in the gas chambers in Nazi Death Camps. Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish Question unleashed a unique campaign to murder every Jew under Nazi control—wherever they lived and whatever their age. Six million (two out of every three) European Jews perished, many in the gas chambers at Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Auschwitz Birkenau.
Mr. Spicer’s goal was to rally support for President Trump’s tough stand on Syria. It may have had the opposite effect among Russians, Jews, Slavs and other victims of the Nazis. Vladimir Putin will certainly use this grotesque misstatement to further bolster his pro-Syrian position among his citizens.

For 40 years the Simon Wiesenthal Center has been teaching millions of people about the lessons of the Nazi Holocaust. One key lesson is that it is inappropriate to compare Auschwitz, or the Warsaw Ghetto to contemporary events. The goal of Holocaust education, indeed the goal to standing up to evil leaders like Assad is to avoid future catastrophes and avoid the unfathomable scale of Hitler’s genocidal crime.

That is the lesson that all our leaders should take away from Holocaust Memorial Day later this month.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.

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