The use of National Socialist icons at the Freiburg “Hygiene Demonstrations” is only the most recent manifestation of a sickening phenomenon where Nazi Germany's efforts to exterminate Europe’s Jews are compared to today's measures to contain the coronavirus. From Freiburg to Vienna to the United States, the measures taken by democratic governments to protect their populations and save lives are being equated with the murderous policies of the National Socialist regime, thereby diminishing the latter. This obscene trend reflects a grave lack of understanding of the dimensions of the Holocaust and must be taken very seriously.
References at these demonstrations to the National Socialist slogan “Arbeit macht frei” and to the Star of David badge Jews were forced to wear dilute the meaning and history of these symbols, relativizing the Holocaust to spread misinformation and hatred. The appropriation of these symbols is not only insulting to the memory of victims and survivors of the Nazi regime, it denies and distorts the Holocaust as well.
The German Presidency of the IHRA has made the fight against Holocaust denial and distortion a priority, placing the issue on the top of its agenda and establishing a Global Task Force to combat this harmful trend. At a time when Jewish people across the globe are facing rising antisemitism, the IHRA condemns these actions in the strongest possible terms and calls upon all to stand up against antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion.