Among the protesters who breached the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 was a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt that says “Camp Auschwitz.” The man can be seen in a group photo in the Capitol, where two other people were showing off Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s broken nameplate. CNN identified the man as Robert Keith Packer of Virginia.
A horde of protesters breached the US Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 as Congress was holding a joint session to certify electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. At the time of the breach at about 2:15 p.m., the Senate was debating whether to approve an objection to certify Biden’s electoral votes in Arizona. The man in the photo has not been identified.
Here’s what you need to know:
Camp Auschwitz Hoodies Were Available for Sale Online But Removed By at Least One Company Following the Violent Protests at the Capitol
“Camp Auschwitz” hooded sweatshirts, along with similar T-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts, were “taken down for content reasons” by TeeChip on Thursday, according to Newsweek. TeeChip is a platform that allows designers to sell custom merchandise online, according to its website. It was not clear where the man wearing the hoodie made the purchase. Multiple vendors sold the shirts online.
The shirt features a skull and crossbones, paddles and the words “Work brings freedom,” a translation of “Arbeit macht frei,” which was a phrase displayed at the entrance of the Nazi concentration camp.
Medical historian and television presenter Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris bashed TeeChip on Twitter for selling the merchandise, before they informed her it was taken down.
“Hi Lindsey, @AuschwitzMuseum, this content has been taken down, as we do not tolerate hatred messages on our website. The seller has been banned. We’ll continue moderating to prevent similar content to be uploaded,” they wrote.
Another person claimed on Twitter her grandmother was at Auschwitz.
“My Grandma survived ‘Camp Auschwitz,’” she wrote. “0/5 do not recommend.”
Another shirt, a T-shirt with the 6MWE insignia, was also shared on Twitter and blasted.
“Yesterday some Proud Boys wore shirts with 6MWE insignia. It means 6 million (Jews) wasn’t enough. A reminder that if democracy becomes vulnerable, genocidal forces in the wings are ready to rise. Yes, even in America. #CapitolRiots,” one person wrote on Twitter.
‘We Historians Have a Lot of Work to Do,’ One Person Wrote in Response to the ‘Camp Auschwitz’ Shirt Photo
Historian Lindsey Fitzharris took to Twitter to blast one of the companies to sell “Camp Auschwitz” shirts as a photo circulated online of a man wearing the shirt during the Capitol siege.
“Someone not only wore this sweatshirt, but some company made it. We historians have a lot of work to do, it seems,” she wrote. “Let’s start with this: follow @AuschwitzMuseum. Read their stories about those who died in the Holocaust. Learn about the past. Learn *from* the past.”
She added, “Undoubtedly, this man knew what his sweatshirt was implying. But I want everyone who might casually glimpse it – and not recognize it for what it is – to understand the history.”
One person shared one of those stories on Twitter, along with a family photo.
“Thank you Lindsey,” he wrote. “I lost many members of my family in ‘that place’. I’d like to meet this man and tell him the story of my dad’s cousin Anselm – the youngest to be murdered there, aged just 6. He died holding his daddy’s hand in a Zyklon B shower. This was them in happier times.”