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RFK Jr tells The Independent why he compared vaccine mandates to Holocaust

Comments widely denounced and activist’s wife has distanced herself from them

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 26 January 2022 23:41 GMT
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says unvaccinated have less freedom than Anne Frank did

Leading anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr has denied comparing vaccine mandates to life under the Nazis and claimed he was trying to say modern technology was set to lead to “tyrannical regimes”.

At a rally last weekend in Washington DC, where thousands marched to protest the against vaccine mandates, Mr Kennedy, a member of the celebrated political clan, said the US was experiencing what he considered “turnkey totalitarianism”.

“They are putting in place all of these technological mechanisms for control we’ve never seen before. It’s been the ambition of every totalitarian state since the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of behaviour, of conduct, of thought and to obliterate dissent,” he said.

“None of them have been able to do it. They didn’t have the technological capacity.”

Mr Kennedy, the son of senator Robert Kennedy and nephew of John F Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated, then referred to life under the Nazis.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” he said.

“I visited in 1962 East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died ... but it was possible.”

Mr Kennedy’s comments were immediately condemned.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which stands on land in Poland occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War and where more than 1.1m people were killed, among them 960,000 Jews, said of his comments: “Exploiting of the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured and murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany — including children like Anne Frank — in a debate about vaccines and limitations during global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay.”

Mr Kennedy spoke as thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington DC to protest vaccine mandates. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC said that politically motivated and “reckless comparisons to the Holocaust” were  “outrageous and deeply offensive”.

It added: “Those who carelessly invoke Anne Frank, the star badge, and the Nuremberg Trials exploit history and the consequences of hate.”

In a brief interview with The Independent, Mr Kennedy, who leads an organisation, Children’s Health Defence, that campaigns for so-called “medical freedom”, said he had not made any comparison to Nazi Germany.

“I was making a point that modern technology leads to totalitarian regimes, and gave several examples. Which is a totally different point,” he said.

He said he did not have time to talk further but added: “I also apologised for making any reference to Anne Frank, but I never compared anyone to the Nazis.”

Mr Kennedy also tweeted an apology, saying: “I apologise for my reference to Anne Frank, especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors. My intention was to use examples of past barbarism to show the perils from new technologies of control. To the extent my remarks caused hurt, I am truly and deeply sorry.”

Among those to distance themselves from his comments were his wife, Curb Your Enthusiasm actress Cheryl Hines, who said in a statement: “My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in DC was reprehensible and insensitive.

“The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own.”

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