Survivors demand action against Holocaust trivialization related to pandemic

Since the beginning of 2020, more than 60 million online engagements linking pandemic-related issues with Holocaust terminology.

By World Israel News Staff

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day and two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) released a comprehensive internet monitoring data report revealing the scope of the rising trend of Holocaust trivialization – including comparisons of the Nazi genocide to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, conducted by Buzzilla, an online and social media monitoring agency, scanned online content over a two-year period (January 2020-December 2021) from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as other news websites, forums and blogs, and user comments on media portals, in six languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew.

By isolating specific word combinations, the scanning identified more than 60 million online engagements (posts, comments, reactions, shares) in which the Holocaust and the Covid-19 pandemic were tied together, with a vast majority, nearly 57 million, taking place in English. Hebrew was second place with 2.6 million engagements, and Spanish third with 2.1 million engagements.

The data was compiled as part of CAM’s global campaign against Holocaust trivialization, in partnership with the International March of the Living. The report was released a few days before the United Nations General Assembly is set to vote on a historic resolution against Holocaust denial, formulated by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Gilad Erdan, which will also focus on the need for online and social media companies to curtail distortions of the Holocaust.

Over the last two years, Holocaust trivialization has become increasingly mainstream among many politicians, grassroots movements, in the media, and online, representing a distortion of history and a direct affront to the memory of the victims and the dignity of survivors, CAM has found.

Often inflamed by politicians, yellow-star protesters are marching in the streets of their cities and showing up at school board and city council meetings across the world. Some have given Nazi salutes and shouted Heil Hitler.

Some of the more high-profile trivializations include politicians from across Europe, the U.S. and Israel making comparisons between pandemic restrictions and Nazi measures against Jews during the Holocaust, “Not Again” daubed on a Holocaust memorial in Germany together with an anti-vaccine sign, and the slogan “Vaccination sets you free” at a demonstration in Poland.

“The trivialization of Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity fuels Holocaust deniers who seek to downplay Nazi transgressions and allowing it to flourish unchecked has created safe spaces for antisemitic conspiracies, outright Holocaust denial, and other extremist ideologies to spread,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa.

“These comparisons have opened a gateway for the revival of age-old antisemitic conspiracies including blaming Jews for the pandemic as purveyors of disease and accusing Jews of a vast conspiracy for global control through mandates. This trend minimizes both Holocaust remembrance and Jewish concerns for safety during an already-resurgent wave of global antisemitism.”

“The memory of the Holocaust is a cornerstone in the fight against antisemitism, and I call on top decisionmakers, internet giants, and all people to take this alarming trend seriously,” Dratwa stated.

Holocaust survivors from around the world are incensed by these comparisons and are speaking out against the trivialization of the horrors they suffered, according to CAM.

Shots to live vs. shots to die

“Those who compare the two do not understand deep enough, and do not know enough about the Holocaust, because there is nothing to compare,” Dratwa said. “These were atrocities for which there are no words to describe.

“In the Holocaust, they sought only to kill people, including with injections. Mengele gave us injections for experiments that did not value human life. We receive shots today to live, whereas in the Holocaust we received them to die.”

Dita Kraus, 93, another Holocaust survivor, expressed similar sentiments:

“In the Holocaust, they wanted to exterminate the Jews. The ‘Green Pass’ exterminates Jews? That’s simply ridiculous. The comparison is so absurd, it is impossible to compare the Holocaust to anything. The Holocaust was unique, nothing is like the industrial-scale extermination of people in gas chambers. Nothing compares to this, and nothing ever will.”

Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor, founder of the International March of the Living and President of Yad Vashem-the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, also spoke out about Holocaust trivialization.

“Respect the Holocaust, respect the truth,” Rabbi Lau said. “The Holocaust has no comparison, and any attempts to compare the Covid pandemic to the Holocaust is shocking and appalling comparing the Covid pandemic to the Holocaust is utter contempt for the Holocaust and for truth itself.”

International March of the Living President Phyllis Heideman said, “Holocaust trivialization is a gateway to outright Holocaust denial, and we must act decisively against it. The fact that Holocaust survivors who are still with us must witness this is outrageous and unfortunate.

“With historical truth under attack, the International March of the Living will continue to promote Holocaust education and pass on the memory of the Holocaust to future generations.”

A database of Holocaust trivialization incidents since the summer of 2021 monitored by CAM is available here.