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In what is becoming commonplace, yet another anti-vaccine celeb has compared mandates to life in Nazi-occupied Germany. Robert F Kennedy Jr recently spoke at an anti-vaccine rally, where he invoked Anne Frank and World War 2-era Germany.

In his speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, Kennedy Jr said, “Even in Hitler Germany (sic), you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did.”

During World War II, while living in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, Anne Frank and her family hid in an attic for nearly two years. Eventually, the entire Frank family was discovered and sent to concentration camps. All but Anne’s father, Otto Frank, died. 

Kennedy Jr.s sister, wife distance themselves from his comments

Kennedy Jr’s words were immediately and loudly condemned, even from members of his own family. Kennedy Jr’s sister Kerry tweeted, “Bobby’s lies and fear-mongering yesterday were both sickening and destructive. I strongly condemn him for his hateful rhetoric.” 

Kennedy Jr’s wife, actress Cheryl Hines, agreed, noting “My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in D.C. was reprehensible and insensitive. His opinions are not a reflection of my own.” 

Meanwhile, Kennedy Jr was not the only speaker at the rally to use antisemitism to complain about vaccine and mask mandates. Antisemitic signs and clothing were also visible throughout the crowd.

Antisemitism on full display

“Make the Nuremberg Code Great Again,” read one sweatshirt, while others wore clothes with yellow stars on them. The Nuremberg Code refers to medical experiments conducted on Jewish prisoners during World War 2; Jews were also forced to wear yellow stars to delineate their low social status at the time, or face punishment up to death. 

Public condemnation came swiftly from several Jewish and historical organizations. The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, “Exploiting of the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany – including children like Anne Frank – in a debate about vaccines & limitations during global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral & intellectual decay.”

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum concurred, tweeting,  “Making reckless comparisons to the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews, for a political agenda is outrageous and deeply offensive.”

While Mr. Kennedy Jr eventually apologized, this is not the first time he has used antisemitism to rail against vaccines. According to ABC news, in 2015 he referred to vaccine injuries among children as a “a holocaust.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...