German protestors compare COVID-19 restriction to Nazi Germany - World Jewish Congress

German protestors compare COVID-19 restriction to Nazi Germany

German protestors compare COVID-19 restriction to Nazi Germany


German political officials and Jewish leaders have condemned comments made recently by demonstrators who compared themselves to victims of the Holocaust, in light of the government-mandated coronavirus restrictions. 

The condemnations follow several incidents, including a young woman claiming she “felt just like Sophie Scholl”, because she had been protesting and distributing fliers against the government restrictions. Scholl was a German student executed by the Nazis in 1943 for her role in resisting the Nazis. The incident came to light several days after an 11-year-old girl compared herself to Holocaust victim Anne Frank because she was forced to celebrate her birthday quietly to avoid her neighbors, knowing she had invited friends over in violation of the government’s coronavirus restrictions. 

Reacting to the series of incidents, Central Council of Jews in Germany President Josef Schuster said, “Just as the demonstrators show complete disregard for the health of others so, too, they show no respect for the victims of National Socialism. This is a disgusting spectacle.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the series of inflammatory incidents, saying in a tweet, “Anyone today comparing themselves to Sophie Scholl or Anne Frank is making a mockery of the courage it took to stand up to the Nazis. It trivializes the Holocaust and shows an unbearable forgetting of history. Nothing connects the corona protests with the resistance fighters. Nothing!”

Germany’s Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Antisemitism Felix Klein reacted to the incident, saying, “Portraying oneself as the persecuted victim is and was a central element of antisemitic attitudes.”

Government measures introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus have triggered large protests and conspiracy myths across Germany. Among the dozens of large protests featuring members of far-right organizations was an incident in late August, where hundreds of demonstrators, including protestors with signs and flags associated with far-right politics, broke through a blockade in an attempt to storm the Reichstag building.