The Holocaust claimed the lives of 6 million Jewish people. When the Nazi regime took over, Jewish people were forced to wear the Star of David on their clothes. It was intended to distinguish and segregate them from the general population.
The refusal to wear an identification marker could lead to punishment as severe as death. After the Holocaust, the Jewish population in Europe shrunk from 57% of the world’s population to 35%.
Today much of the world is divided over the need for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines. Some believe the mask mandate and requirement of vaccine cards for several establishments are an infringement on their rights.
Significant politicians, board members and a portion of anti-maskers and unvaccinated citizens are comparing their experience to the Holocaust, a time when millions of people were displaced, brutalized and murdered.
This comparison has prompted a movement of protesters and social media posts. Those who choose to wear the Star of David in resistance to the vaccine and mask mandate dismiss the oppression Jewish people faced less than 100 years ago.
After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s decision to mandate masks in the House of Representatives, anti-mask advocate and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green responded in retaliation to the decision.
“You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Green said.
In saying this, Green invalidates the suffering of Jewish people at the hands of Adolf Hitler. In no way does the mask mandate, used to limit the spread of COVID-19, compare to the horrific atrocities of the Holocaust.
Vaccines have eradicated diseases for decades. They have saved millions of lives, and masks have been proven by the CDC to minimize the spread of diseases. Unlike the Star of David identification marker, COVID-19 laws do not apply to one marginalized group of people, nor are they meant to mark people for certain death.
In fact, diseases ravaged the ghettos and concentration camps Jews were forced into. There was a need for vaccines amongst victims of the Nazis. Stripped of their belongings and homes, with no access to hygiene, medicine, clean water or food, many Jewish people died from typhus and cholera due to these unlivable conditions.
Jewish people were murdered by Nazis for being born Jews. There is no such punishment for refusal to receive a vaccine. When people choose to not get the vaccine, they are practicing free will, something Jewish people did not have the privilege of doing.
Understandably, people have fears regarding the vaccine. A number of circumstances cause people to oppose vaccines, but this doesn’t merit a comparison to the Holocaust.
My grandfather’s great-aunts and great-uncles were sent to concentration camps and were murdered by the Nazis when they took over their hometown of Kolomea, Ukraine. Using the Star of David as propaganda for the anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement undermines the immense suffering my ancestors endured.
People must educate themselves on the history of a symbol before exploiting it. The yellow Star of David symbolizes the culture, history, suffering and religion of the Jewish identity.
To respectfully memorialize and honor victims of the Holocaust, one must refrain from equating their suffering to modern-day movements. Any remote comparison between the Holocaust and vaccine mandates is an injustice to the people that suffered in the ghettos and concentration camps, who were separated from their loved ones, not knowing if they’d see them again.