(A7) US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff said on Saturday he was deeply moved by a “solemn and sad” visit to the former site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, The Associated Press reports.
Emhoff described the visit, which he held on Friday, as an important part of his work combating antisemitism for the Biden administration.
Emhoff told reporters he would never forget his visit to the memorial and museum at the site in Poland, where he saw children’s shoes and human hair stripped from people before they were killed in the Nazi German camp. Some 1.1 million people were killed there during World War II, around 90% of them Jews.
“I feel a deep connection to all those who perished in Auschwitz,” he said in opening remarks during a roundtable discussion in Krakow on antisemitism. “I know many American Jews feel the same way.”
His visit to Auschwitz took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is marked on January 27, the date on which the camp was liberated in 1945.
Emhoff, followed that visit with other visits that helped him learn more about the tragic fate of Jews in Europe. On Saturday, he toured the Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory in Krakow, where he saw an exhibit about “Schindler’s List,” the 1,000 Jews saved by the German industrialist during the Holocaust.
During the roundtable at Krakow’s Galicia Jewish Museum, he described antisemitism as a growing problem in the United States and across the world.
He denounced “so-called” leaders who use antisemitism to promote their agendas and those who lack the courage to confront them at a time of murderous attacks on Jewish communities, hateful threats and antisemitic lies.
“People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now, they are literally screaming them. We are witnessing an epidemic of hate in the United States and internationally,” Emhoff said, according to AP.
Emhoff is the first Jewish person among the top four officials — the president, vice president and their spouses — in the executive branch of government, and he has become increasingly outspoken about growing bias toward the Jewish community, and hate at large, in the US.
In December, Emhoff held a White House roundtable on antisemitism, during which he warned of a “rapid rise” in antisemitism across the United States and termed it an “epidemic of hate facing our country.”