Never Forgotten

The Candidate Who Didn’t Know What Auschwitz Was

Alex Johnstone, an education official who is running for Canada’s parliament, made a penis joke about Auschwitz and then apologized—saying she wasn’t aware it was a concentration camp.

09.24.15 4:49 PM ET

History is meant to help people learn from mistakes. But mistakes can still be made if people don’t learn history.

Alex Johnstone, who is running for a parliamentary seat in Canada, has drawn heat for not knowing about the past this week. Specifically, not knowing about very noteworthy facts about the Holocaust. The candidate, who is also a vice chairwoman of a school board in Hamilton, Ontario, made a phallic joke about a picture from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

“Ahh, the infamous Pollish, phallic hydro posts….of course you took pictures of this!” she wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall in 2008 beneath a picture of a barbed-wire gate at the concentration camp. “It expresses the how the curve is normal, natural and healthy right!”

Canadian humor is peculiar.

After being called out for the comment, which came to light in the days just before the solemn Yom Kippur holiday, Johnstone apologized on Facebook, saying: “Attention was recently drawn to a comment I posted on social media seven years ago. While never intending any malice, this comment was clearly inappropriate. I would like to offer my unreserved apology for this comment.”

Adding insult to injury, Johnstone stated that she didn’t know what Auschwitz even was.

“Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today,” she said in an interview Tuesday night. Johnstone, who appears to be in her thirties, said she had “heard about concentration camps.”

“I think that constituents, the community is more interested in the values and principles that I have been standing for, particularly in this election, and I think the fact that I’ve run a clean campaign really demonstrates that,” she said.

Johnstone has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Tyler Banham, head of the Ontario wing of the Liberal Party of Canada, tweeted his anger at the mistake. “Unacceptable that an NDP candidate 4 MP & a School Trustee has never heard of Auschwitz let alone make jokes about it,” he wrote.

Johnstone isn’t the only Canadian candidate to say insane things on social media. Liberal Party candidate Ala Buzreba had to drop out of a race after saying an Israel supporter’s mother should have been aborted with a coat hanger.