Robert F Kennedy Jr ‘exploited tragedy’ of Nazism in anti-vax speech, says Auschwitz memorial
The official memorial of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp in which more than 1 million people were murdered, has accused the prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr of “moral and intellectual decay”, after he compared vaccine mandates to laws in Hitler’s Germany and invoked the name of Anne Frank.
The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum responded swiftly to remarks made at an anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington DC on Sunday.
In a tweet , the institution criticized Kennedy for “exploiting the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured and murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany – including children like Anne Frank”.
To do so during a debate about vaccines and how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was a “sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay”, the memorial said.
Kennedy made his public reputation as an environmentalist but in recent years has used his legendary family name to back conspiracy theories and oppose vaccines.
At the “Defeat the Mandates” march on Sunday, which was staged by his organization, Children’s Health Defense Fund, he likened government efforts to contain Covid-19 to the Holocaust.
“Even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” he said.
Frank, who wrote a diary chronicling how she hid from the Nazis for two years before being arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and sent to Auschwitz , was in fact apprehended not in Germany but in Amsterdam. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
Kennedy also rehashed conspiracy theories about the Microsoft founder and vaccine advocate Bill Gates and 5G, the mobile technology which Kennedy said was designed to “control our behaviour”.
He also invoked his father, the attorney general and New York senator Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 as he was making a bid for the US presidency.
“I’ve visited 1962 East Germany with my father,” Kennedy Jr told the anti-vaxxer crowd, “and met people who had climbed the [Berlin] Wall and escaped. It was possible. Today the mechanisms are being put in place where none of us can run and none of us can hide.”
Survivors of the Holocaust also lamented Kennedy’s words. Lucy Lipiner, 88, who fled the Nazis from Poland when she was six, said : “Robert Kennedy Jr is so ignorant. I’m speechless.”
She added: “Running/hiding in the Holocaust was rare, almost impossible. I’m lucky to have survived. Anne Frank didn’t.”