Whoopi Goldberg apologises for claiming 'Holocaust isn't about race'

Whoopi Goldberg has apologised after she prompted outrage by declaring: "The Holocaust isn't about race." 

The View host made the comments during a discussion about the banning of Art Speigelman's graphic novel about the Nazi regime, Maus, by a Tennessee school district. 

"Let's be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn't about race. It's not about race," she said, claiming the genocide was instead about "man's inhumanity to man" and claiming it occurred between "two groups of white people". 

The Holocaust refers to the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of at least six million Jews in an unprecedented genocide committed by the Nazis. They believed that Germans were "racially superior" and described Jews as "parasitic vermin" who should be eradicated. German authorities also targeted Roma and Slavic peoples based on their "racial inferiority". 

The Academy Award winner expressed her "sincerest apologies" after she was called out online by organisations such as the US Holocaust Museum, The Auschwitz Memorial and The Anti-Defamation League (ADL). 

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: "No Whoopi Goldberg, the Holocaust was about the Nazis' systematic annihilation of the Jewish people - who they deemed to be an inferior race." 

"They dehumanised them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous," he added. 

The Auschwitz Memorial sent Goldberg a link to a seven-chapter online course called 'Holocaust - The Destruction of European Jews'. 

The Sister Act star responded with a statement saying she "stood corrected", explaining that she should have said the Holocaust was about both race and man's inhumanity to man. 

"The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I'm sorry for the hurt that I have caused," she wrote. 

Goldberg apologised again when Greenblatt was invited to appear on a subsequent episode of The View, where he pointed out the novel Maus opens with a quote from Adolf Hitler that reads: "The Jews undoubtedly are a race, but they are not human." 

Goldberg also discussed the controversy while appearing as a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which the Hollywood Reporter noted was filmed before her written apology was shared online. The actor and comedian expressed remorse for the anger her words had caused, but also seemingly doubled down on some of her sentiments. 

"I was saying you can't call this racism, this was evil. This wasn't based on the skin," Goldberg said of her comments. 

"Most of the Nazis were white people, and most of the people they were attacking were white people." 

Goldberg explained that as a Black person, she thought of race as "something she could see", saying she had been dubbed anti-Semitic as a result of the discussion. 

"I am incredibly torn up about being told these things about myself. I get it, folks are angry, I accept that and I did it to myself," she said. 

"This was my thought process and I will work hard not to think that way again." 

Dani Dayan, the chairman of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust history museum in Jerusalem, welcomed Golberg's apology, but said her initial comments were an indication of a "lack of basic understanding about the Holocaust and anti-Semitsm" that was "prevalent in much of the world". 

Dayan extended an invitation to the star to visit Yad Vashem to learn more about the Holocaust. "I don't think she hates Jews, I think she simply doesn't understand what anti-Semitism is," he said in an interview with i24News

Critics of the television host's remarks have also highlighted the use of Goldberg as her stage name. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson, Goldberg reportedly adopted the name to be "deliberately Jewish-sounding", according to the Times of Israel, which claims the star has "no Jewish ancestry". 

"I just know I am Jewish," Goldberg told the Jewish Chronicle in 2016. "I practice nothing. I don't go to temple, but I do remember the holidays." 

"My mother did not name me Whoopi, but Goldberg is my name, it's part of my family, part of my heritage. Just like being Black."