Robert F. Kennedy Jr. touted wild and unfounded conspiracy theories during an anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington, D.C., at one point likening the experience of anti-vaxxers to victims of the Holocaust, including Anne Frank.
“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy said of the young Jewish writer whose diary was published after she died in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. “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 doing it, but it was possible.”
Kennedy, the son of U.S. senator and former presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy who was assassinated in 1968, has become a leading figure in the movement against vaccinations amid the coronavirus pandemic. He frequently shares misinformation and unfounded claims against vaccines.
“Bill Gates and his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square inch of the planet, 24 hours a day,” Kennedy claimed on Sunday, without proof. “They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior — digital currencies that will allow them to punish us from a distance and cut off our food supply.”
Several thousand people attended the so-called “Defeat the Mandates” protest against COVID-19 vaccinations, the Washington Post reported, though organizers had expected 20,000 in attendance.
Two days before the rally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new studies offering evidence that vaccinations provide protection against hospitalizations for the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Last week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s vaccination mandate went into effect, requiring patrons to provide proof of vaccination before entering businesses.
In a Twitter response to a video of the rally on Sunday, the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum said Kennedy was “exploiting” victims of the Holocaust during a global pandemic.
“Exploiting of the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany - including children like Anne Frank - in a debate about vaccines & limitations during global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral & intellectual decay,” the museum tweeted.
Prior to the anti-vaccine mandate rally, Kennedy told WUSA9 he believes everyone at the rally will be “well-behaved” and the rally is a “demand by Americans to get their democracy back.”
In recent months, Kennedy has made troubling statements about COVID-19 vaccines and federal mandates requiring vaccinations. In December, Kennedy falsely claimed that the vaccine was the “deadliest vaccine ever made” — a statement that was debunked by Politifact.
Other speakers from the rally included controversial doctor Robert Malone, TV producer Del Bigtree, and Nation of Islam member Rizza Islam, who claimed that Louis Farrakhan, known anti-Semite and Nation of Islam leader, “warned” dozens of world leaders about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Both Kennedy and Islam have been banned or completely removed from social media platforms due to their controversial statements and outspoken opinions. They are also a part of the “Disinformation Dozen,” a group the Center For Countering Digital Hate created that highlights those responsible for spreading vaccine disinformation online.