Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff visits Auschwitz
The visit to Auschwitz was Emhoff's first stop on a five-day trip to Poland and Germany that is focused on promoting Holocaust education and combating antisemitism
OSWIECIM, Poland: On this snowy, gray morning here in Poland, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff walked through the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate to enter Auschwitz. Unlike most of the more than 1 million Jews who were transported here by Nazis during the Holocaust, Emhoff walked out of the gate, whose sign translates to “work makes you free,” an hour later.
Donning a yarmulke, he walked slowly through the red-brick barracks and wiped tears from his eyes as he placed a wreath at a site where thousands of prisoners had been shot. The first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president, Emhoff has relatives who left Poland before the Holocaust.
Before leaving the camp, Emhoff attended a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the United Nations-designated memorial day commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 78 years ago. Two Auschwitz survivors spoke at the event. Piotr Cywiński, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, used his remarks to focus on the war in Ukraine. “Once again innocent people are being killed en masse in Europe,” he said through a translator. Tomorrow, Emhoff will meet with Ukrainian refugees in Krakow.
The visit to Auschwitz was Emhoff’s first stop on a five-day trip to Poland and Germany that is focused on promoting Holocaust education and combating antisemitism. Tonight, Emhoff will have Shabbat dinner at the Krakow Jewish Community Center with local Jewish leaders.
He was joined at the camp by several senior U.S. officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, State Department Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Ellen Germain and Rashad Hussain, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom.