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Auschwitz museum and White House criticise Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld for saying ‘useful’ Jews survived Nazi camps

Museum on site of former concentration camp said host wasn’t being historically accurate

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 26 July 2023 05:39 BST
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Fox News host Greg Gutfeld is being criticised for saying some Jews were able to survive the Nazi genocide because they were “useful,” with a prominent Holocaust museum saying this claim “does not represent the complex history” of the concentration camps.

“What Fox News allowed to be said on their air yesterday — and has so far failed to condemn — is an obscenity,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “In defending a horrid, dangerous, extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of Americans who suffered from the evil of enslavement, a Fox News host told another horrid, dangerous and extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of people who suffered from the evils of the Holocaust.”

The scandal began during a Monday segment on the Fox talk show The Five, as panelists were discussing a new set of education standards in Florida. In the state, history students will now learn that enslaved people in the US, who endured forced kidnapping, then brutal violence and bondage on plantations, “developed skills” that could be “applied for personal benefit”.

One of the commenters on the panel, Jessica Tarlov, said that provision within the standards made her uncomfortable. As a Jewish person, she felt a similar framing of the Holocaust would be highly offensive.

“I’m just fundamentally uncomfortable with the sentence that Blacks benefited at all from this,” she said. “It made me think as someone – obviously I’m not Black, I’m Jewish – would someone say about the Holocaust, for instance, that there were some benefits for Jews, that while they were hanging out in concentration camps, you learned a strong work ethic, maybe you learned a new skill?”

“Did you ever make read Man’s Search for Meaning?” Mr Gutfeld responded. “Vik Frankl talks about how you had to survive in a concentration camp by having skills. You had to be useful. Utility. Utility kept you alive.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum said in a statement on social media Monday that Mr Gutfeld’s comments were an inaccurate description of the Nazi genocide, in which millions of people including Jews, people with disabilities, Romani, political dissidents, and others were murdered.

“Millions of Jews were brutally murdered in execution sites, mainly across the east of occupied Europe, with entire communities wiped out regardless of their usefulness or contributions to society,” the statement reads. “While some of the ghettos seemed to have the goal of being productive and Jews were used as slave labor there, being ‘useful’ did not guarantee safety, as the Nazis eventually decided to liquidate them, leading to the murder of those considered valuable as well.

“Therefore, while it is accurate to acknowledge that some Jews may have survived temporarily due to their perceived usefulness, it is crucial to remember that the Holocaust was a systematic genocide with the ultimate aim of exterminating the entire Jewish population,” the museum added. “It would be more appropriate to say that some Jews survived the Holocaust because they were considered temporarily useful, and the circumstances of the Nazi regime’s collapse prevented their murder. We should avoid such oversimplifications in talking about this complex tragic story.”

Fox News declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.

The Florida education standards that sparked the controversy have come in from criticism from multiple quarters.

During an event this month, Vice President Kamala Harris said the provisions “insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”

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