A newly elected Republican congresswoman has apologised for quoting Hitler in a speech in Washington.
In a statement, Mary Miller of Illinois said she “sincerely apologised for any offence” given when she told a crowd at the US Capitol: “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’ Our children are being propagandised.”
Miller paraphrased Hitler – who in 1935 told a rally: “He alone who owns the youth gains the future” – on Tuesday, in an address to a “Save the Republic” event hosted by Moms for America, a rightwing group which campaigns to “reclaim our culture for truth, family and freedom”.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a new congresswoman from Georgia who has supported the QAnon conspiracy theory, and Mike Lindell, the owner of My Pillow who has become a prominent Trump backer, also spoke at the event, which was held in support of Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.
A day later, after being told by Trump to “fight like hell”, supporters of the president stormed the Capitol in a violent putsch which left five people dead.
Miller, one of 147 Republicans who nonetheless went through with objections to electoral college results, was rebuked from all corners.
The United States Holocaust Museum, in Washington, said it “unequivocally condemns any leader trying to advance a position by claiming Adolf Hitler was ‘right’.”
Accompanying the museum statement, Irene Weiss, an Auschwitz survivor, “implore[d] our leaders and all Americans not to misuse history – my history.”
JB Pritzker, the Illinois governor, who is Jewish, called Miller’s remarks “reprehensible” and “disgusting”.
The Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth, like Pritzker a Democrat, called Miller’s remark “repugnant, obscene and unacceptable” and called for Miller, who was sworn in this month, to resign.
Illinois Democrats in the US House also called on Miller to quit. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman from the state, said: “I outright condemn this garbage.”
In her apology, Miller said she was “passionately pro-Israel” and “a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community”.
She also said her reference to “one of the most evil dictators in history” was meant to “illustrate the dangers that outside influences can have on our youth”.
Moms for America said Miller’s words were being “taken out of context and used as a weapon against her” and urged people to listen to her whole speech.
On Wednesday, a tweet from the congresswoman’s official account said she quoted Hitler as “a denunciation of evil dictators’ efforts to re-educate young people and similar efforts by leftwing radicals in our country today.”
The tweet was sent at 5.18pm ET, three hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to keep their leader in power. Some Republicans claimed the riot was caused by leftwing protesters. The FBI later said it was not.
On Friday, the same day she apologised for quoting Hitler, Miller condemned the riot. She also said she was “praying for the family, friends and colleagues of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who tragically passed away last night”.
Sicknick confronted the rioters. Reportedly struck with a fire extinguisher, he later collapsed and died. He was 42.