German Cops Push for Tougher Measures Against Display of Nazi-Era Jewish Star at COVID-19 Demonstrations
Police in the north-western German city of Dortmund have warned vaccine refusal activists and other protestors against COVID-19 public health measures that imagery comparing the status of non-vaccinated individuals with the plight of Jews during the Holocaust will no longer be tolerated at demonstrations.
In a statement on Thursday, Gregor Lange, Dortmund’s police chief, said that the wearing by vaccine refusers of the “Judenstern” — the yellow “Jews’ Star” which the Nazis forced Jews to wear on their outer clothing — constituted “unacceptable symbolism, whereby the current measures to protect against infection during the pandemic are equated with the atrocities of the Nazis.”
The appropriation of Holocaust imagery “plays down the systematic murder of millions of Jews by National Socialist Germany, endangers public peace and hurts the feelings of those left behind today,” Lange continued. “The Dortmund police do not tolerate antisemitism.”
Display of the “Judenstern” at COVID-19 demonstrations is now banned in Dortmund. On Monday, a man displaying the star on his backpack was detained by police at a demonstration.
Lange’s comments regarding Dortmund’s determination to confront the use of Holocaust imagery by vaccine refusal activists has been echoed elsewhere in Germany. On Wednesday, a senator in the northern city of Bremen argued that the display of Nazi symbols at the demonstrations should be considered a criminal matter.
“Wearing the yellow star and associating this inhuman symbol of the murder of millions of Jewish fellow citizens with one’s own vaccination status is not only bad taste, but in my eyes also constitutes a criminal offense of hate speech,” Senator Claudia Schilling of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) declared. She urged the Bremen public prosecutor to regard such displays as “incitement to hatred” and to “investigate accordingly.”
In the southern state of Bavaria, Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) remarked that Germany had a “special responsibility towards people of the Jewish faith. It is our task to recognize, name and fight the hatred of Jews in our society. That is why we are taking resolute action against it.” In June 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, police in Bavaria’s main city of Munich banned the display of the “Judenstern.”
The public prosecutors offices in the city of Hamburg and the eastern state of Saxony meanwhile made similar pledges, confirming that the display of the “Judenstern” alongside the words “not vaccinated” would be regarded as a criminal offense.