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German cities urged to ban Jewish star at COVID protests

May 7, 2021

Protesters wearing a modified Nazi-era symbol have been seen at anti-lockdown rallies throughout Germany, a leading Jewish figure has warned.

A yellow star with the words 'unvaccinated' on the arm of a protest
Demonstrators have tried to inflitrate protests wearing yellow stars with the word 'unvaccinated' Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler

Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein urged authorities on Friday to stop protesters from using a mock yellow Star of David badge forced on Jews during World War II.

Anti-lockdown protesters have been seen wearing the yellow badge in Germany in opposition to government plans to offer more freedoms to those who get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Demonstrators changed the label inscription on the yellow badge to "unvaccinated," claiming Germany's coronavirus policy draws comparisons to the persecution of Jews during the war.  

Klein warned that such actions relativize the Holocaust. During World War II, Germany made wearing the Star of David badge obligatory throughout territories they occupied. Jews found without one faced a fine, prison or death.  

Jews wearing Star of David badges in the Lodz Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland
Jews wearing Star of David badges in the Lodz Ghetto in Nazi-occupied PolandImage: picture-alliance/HIP/Heritage-Images/Jewish Chronical

"If people pin so-called Jewish stars on themselves in demonstrations, thereby drawing comparisons that relativize the Holocaust, then the means provided by law should be applied against them," Klein told Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper in an interview.

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Anti-Semitic crimes on the rise

The commissioner called on cities to follow Munich's example. The southern German city has already made the wearing of the star during protests illegal.

Klein also noted that anti-Semitic offenses in Germany surged to a new high of 2,300 last year.

He said the figures were frightening but unsurprising, as in times of crisis people were more open to "irrational explanations, including anti-Semitic stereotypes" from all ends of the political spectrum ranging from the far right, conspiracy theorists as well as by the left.

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nm, mvb/rt (EPD, KNA, AFP)