An Alaska congressman has argued that Jews could have averted the Holocaust if they’d been armed.
“How many millions of people were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia,” says Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska on a recording made by a Democrat running for Young’s seat. “How many Jews were put in the ovens because they were unarmed?”
Dmitri Shein, a Democrat seeking Young’s seat, recorded the comments at a conference last week in Juneau, reported Alaska Public Media. Shein asked Young about school safety, prompting the exchange.
The argument that gun control eased Adolf Hitler’s rise in Germany before World War II has circulated among gun-rights advocates for years, even appearing in a National Review article.
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The Anti-Defamation League, however, has called the claim outlandish.
“It is mind-bending to suggest that personal firearms in the hands of the small number of Germany’s Jews (about 214,000 remaining in Germany in 1938) could have stopped the totalitarian onslaught of Nazi Germany when the armies of Poland, France, Belgium and numerous other countries were overwhelmed by the Third Reich,” Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a 2015 opinion piece for the Huffington Post.
The Anti-Defamation League also posted to Twitter on Wednesday to denounce Young’s remarks.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., who is Jewish, also condemned Young’s comments Wednesday on Twitter.
Murphy McCollough, a Young spokesperson, told NBC News the congressman’s remarks had been taken out of context.
“He was referencing the fact that when Hitler confiscated firearms from Jewish Germans, those communities were less able to defend themselves,” McCollough said. “He was not implying that an armed Jewish population would have been able to prevent the horrors of the Holocaust, but his intended message is that disarming citizens can have detrimental consequences.”
Young, 84, who is Alaska’s only member of the House of Representatives, was first elected to Congress in 1973. Young is a National Rifle Association board member.