German Police to Act Against Use of Nazi-Era ‘Jewish Stars’ at Berlin COVID Protests
Police authorities in the city of Berlin will have the authority to crack down on protesters wearing the so-called yellow “Judenstern” (“Jews’ Star”) badges and other symbols associated with the Nazi era at demonstrations against pandemic restrictions.
According to an internal update by the Berlin police antisemitism commissioner, cited by German newspaper B.Z. Berlin, “the use of adapted ‘Jewish stars’ at gatherings can now be assumed to be a fundamental disturbance of public peace.”
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, activists in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany have taken to the streets comparing social restrictions placed on individuals refusing the vaccines with the plight of Jews racially persecuted by the former Nazi regime. Germany does not have a mandatory vaccination policy but, like other countries, eases certain social-distancing restrictions for those who get inoculated.
Specifically, demonstrators have frequently donned the yellow Star of David badges that Holocaust victims were forced to wear under Nazi persecution, often marked with the word “unvaccinated” in place of the word “Jew.”
The procedural instructions by Berlin authorities mean that the police can intervene for security reasons and impose restrictions before gatherings that ban the wearing of the controversial symbols. Police officials must secure the yellow stars and document relevant evidence.
Berlin’s police antisemitism commissioner clarified that wearing a Star of David in public as a purely religious symbol is not punishable.
Additionally, demonstrators drawing other analogies regarding the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust can now also face legal jeopardy, according to Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office. Deemed “secondary antisemitism,” such actions are defined as “everything that is associated with the trivialization of the Holocaust.”
The internal instructions by Berlin’s police antisemitism commissioner follow a verdict by a city district court, which came into effect in October, that charged a 56-year-old man with incitement to hatred. The man was convicted after spreading a Facebook post displaying a yellow star marked with the inscription “unvaccinated,” and a heading that read: “the hunt for humans can now start again.”
The southern German city of Munich banned the display of the Nazi-era star early in the pandemic. In May of 2021, Felix Klein, Germany’s federal antisemitism commissioner, called for other jurisdictions to follow that example.