“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg’s Holocaust remark sent shock waves throughout Jewish communities this week, prompting an outcry from the very people who experienced the worst of humanity firsthand in Nazi Germany.
Goldberg declared repeatedly on-air that the Holocaust was “not about race” despite the systematic killing of an estimated six million Jews. Although she was apologetic, she was ultimately suspended by the network for two weeks from the show.
“Someone of her stature has to be extremely careful to use the proper language and not to perpetuate false narratives,” Sami Steigmann, 82, said in an interview with Fox News Digital on Tuesday. “I’m extremely disappointed in her for making such a stupid comment. I don’t know the motive for why she said it, but the damage has been done.”
Steigmann was sent to a labor camp with his parents in 1940 when he was one year old and became a subject of medical experiments for the Nazis. He has devoted his life to making sure the next generation is well-educated about the past, and is outspoken about the dangers of embracing an indifferent culture, he said.
“The biggest crime that anybody can commit, in my opinion, is indifference. And when she says something like this, we cannot just sit back. We must call it out,” he said of Goldberg’s comment. “The point is not to condemn her. It’s to educate her. There’s no better way for her to understand the damage that she has done.”
Steigmann said that if Goldberg seeks to learn more about the motivations of the Nazis, she should refer to the collection of centuries-old Jewish artistic and historical objects, which were preserved by Nazi Germany to create what they called a ”Museum of an Extinct Race.”
“For her to say it’s not about race. It’s about religion, it’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “She should be very careful. She should educate herself on this subject before she speaks because her words carry a lot of weight. I don’t think she’s an anti-Semite but she’s not educated on this and I don’t believe she knows what the Nazis wanted to do to us because of our race.”
Steigmann pointed to a phrase often attributed to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.
“Goldberg has a lot of followers and I’m sure they will not do their research. They will just repeat what she said,” he said. “Once the people understand that words lead to action, good and bad, they will be able to recognize the signs of today that could lead to other tragedies.”
“Once the people understand that words lead to action, good and bad, they will be able to recognize the signs of today that could lead to other tragedies.”
Rosie Greenstein, the subject of the bestselling book “The Redhead of Auschwitz,” who was sent to the death camp at the age of 18, marked her 96th birthday on Tuesday with a pointed message addressed to Goldberg.
“I don’t know you, but I believe that you’re an intelligent woman and to hear that from you, that really bugs me,” she told Fox News. “I have nothing against you, but how could you make a statement like that? You’re an educated person and I respect you, I respect everyone in this world … But how could you say it’s not about race? … Shame on you.”
“[I] came home to empty walls,” Greenstein recalled. “My whole family was killed because they were Jews … That was their only crime.”
“I came home to empty walls. My whole family was killed because they were Jews…that was their only crime.”
Lucy Lipiner, author of “Long Journey Home: A Young Girl’s Memoir of Surviving the Holocaust,” said she was baffled by Goldberg’s historically ignorant statement.
“She was mistaken. This was very much against my race, my Jewishness,” Lipiner, 88, told Fox News during a phone call. “It wasn’t White people against White people as she says. We were White, but we were being exterminated because we were Jewish. Men, women, children, infants, killed because we were Jewish.”
“I assume she’s an intelligent person,” Lipiner added. “I don’t understand how she could be so unaware of the Holocaust, how it happened and that it happened to us, the Jewish people.”
“I don’t understand how she could be so unaware of the Holocaust, how it happened.”
Goldberg backtracked on her comments on Monday, offering a written apology, telling “The Late Show” that she understands she upset people after receiving “very angry” messages from the public. She seemed to somewhat defend her remarks, though, saying as a Black woman she viewed race as something she could see.
“I understand,” she said. “I felt differently. I respect everything everyone is saying to me and I don’t want to fake apologize.”
On Tuesday, she apologized again and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt appeared on the program to correct her comments.