World

Trump's Press Secretary says Hitler didn't use chemical weapons, apologizes

12 Apr 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has apologized for stating that Adolf Hitler didn't use chemical weapons in World War II.

Spicer had compared Hitler with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a press briefing.

His statement drew widespread condemnation.

The US has accused the Assad regime of killing 89 people in a recent chemical attack in Syria.

In context: Sean Spicer says Hitler didn't use chemical weapons

12 Apr 2017Trump's Press Secretary says Hitler didn't use chemical weapons, apologizes

What Spicer said?

Spicer said during the press briefing that unlike Assad, "You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons."
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Spicer apologizes for "inappropriate and insensitive" Holocaust reference

"Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison," Spicer said in an interview with CNN. "And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that."

ClarifiesSpicer's poor attempt at clarifying remarks during briefing

When reporters asked Spicer to clarify his statement, he said, "I think when you come to sarin gas, he [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing."

A stuttering Spicer also said that Hitler brought his victims into "Holocaust centres" whereas Assad dropped chemical weapons "down into the middle of towns."

Fact Check: Hitler used chemical agents to murder millions

Over six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust along with countless Gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents and others. Chemical gas agents such as Zyklon B was used to kill them in gas chambers.

Further clarificationsSpicer: Not trying to lessen Holocaust's "horrendous nature"

In an email statement after the briefing, Spicer tried clarifying his comments, saying, "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," he added.

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Spicer's statement came on holy Jewish holiday of Passover

Spicer's statement coincided with the first day of Passover, which marks the Jewish people's liberation from slavery in Egypt. The holiday has been used as a metaphor for atrocities committed against Jews over hundreds of years, including under Hitler's Nazi Germany.

CondemnationDemocrats, Jewish groups want Trump to fire Spicer

The Anne Frank Center said his statement came "On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable."

Senator Ben Cardin, a senior Democrat, tweeted: "Someone get @PressSec a refresher history course on Hitler stat #Icantbelievehereallysaidthat."

Several Democrats and Jewish groups condemned Spicer's statements as insulting and called on Trump to fire Spicer.