Holocaust imagery and rhetoric continue at stay-at-home protests in state capitols

Anti-lockdown protesters in the US compare stay-at-home orders to Nazi policies in World War II.

Marcy Oster, JTA ,

A demonstrator protesting stay-at-home orders in Michigan
A demonstrator protesting stay-at-home orders in Michigan
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Holocaust imagery and rhetoric continue to be evident at protests against stay-at-home orders in state capitols.

Signs reading “Heil, Pritzker” and “Arbeit Mach Frei JB,” the latter a reference to the German words meaning “work will make you free” posted over the gate of Auschwitz, were seen Friday afternoon at a protest against stay-at-home orders in Springfield, Illinois. “JB” referred to the Jewish governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker.

On Thursday afternoon, a protestor in the Michigan capitol Lansing, carried a sign depicting the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, as Adolph Hitler. Last month, stay-at-home protesters at the statehouse held signs reading “Heil Whitmer” next to a swastika.

The Auschwitz Museum and Memorial condemned the sign in Illinois, writing in a tweet: “’Arbeit macht frei’ was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of #Auschwitz. Those words became one of the icons of human hatred. It’s painful to see this symbol instrumentalized & used again to spread hate. It’s a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration.”

Responding to the Michigan protest, President Donald Trump on Friday called the protesters “very good people."

“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” Trump tweeted Friday. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”