Institutions, public figures slam Nazi slogans at US anti-lockdown rally

The phrase, which translates from German into "work makes you free," is the the same phrase that infamously adorned the gate at the entrance to Auschwitz.

Protesters rally outside of the state capitol building before the vote on the extension of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration/stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S. April 30, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/SETH HERALD)
Protesters rally outside of the state capitol building before the vote on the extension of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration/stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S. April 30, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/SETH HERALD)
Numerous public figures and institutions condemned a photo from a Chicago anti-lockdown protest on Friday containing the infamous slogan of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The photo, which has since gone viral, showed a woman holding a sign with the words "Arbeit macht frei" written on it. The phrase, which translates from German into "work makes you free," is the the same phrase that infamously adorned the gate at the entrance to Auschwitz.
THE LIBERATION of Auschwitz is the opening image of 'Liberation-The First Moments.' (Photo credit: Courtesy)THE LIBERATION of Auschwitz is the opening image of 'Liberation-The First Moments.' (Photo credit: Courtesy)
The photo was taken by a local nurse named Dennis Kosuth and shared on Twitter.
"This was one of the signs at the 'Re-open Illinois' event today," he tweeted.
"She assured those that she was not a Nazi, and stated, 'I have Jewish friends.' Thank you for representing yourself and your 'movement' for what it is."
Taking to Twitter, the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland slammed the use of the phrase at the protest.
"'Arbeit macht frei' was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of #Auschwitz," the memorial tweeted.
"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."

Some doubted the authenticity of the photo, due to the Associated Press publishing an article claiming that a photo shared widely over social media of a sign of Arbeit macht frei at an anti-lockdown protest was doctored. However, this referring to a photo from a protest on April 20 in Pittsburgh.
Kosuth maintained that his photo was genuine shared a video he took of the woman holding the sign with BuzzFeed, where the woman can be heard shouting "the gates of Auschwitz."
This is not an isolated incident, white supremacist slogans have been appearing at anti-lockdown rallies all across the US, including a separate slogan at the same rally. One photograph taken by photographer Mike Miletich, showed a protestor with a sign that said "Heil, Pritzker," alongside a swastika, referring to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

Pritzker, whose comes from a well-known Jewish family that came to Chicago after fleeing pogroms in Kiev, took to social media on Sunday to comment on the protest.
"Yesterday, there were quite a number of people protesting by carrying signs filled with hate," he said over Twitter.
"I'll defend to the death their right to be wrong and to say it out loud. But if you look at the facts, the experts are trying to protect them.
"I've spent decades of my life fighting against bigotry & hatred. I helped build [Illinois Holocaust Museum] by working with Holocaust survivors. The meaning of that swastika is apparently unknown to the people who are carrying it, or if it is known, it's a demonstration of the hate that is among us.
"These were a few hundred demonstrators yesterday — but there are millions of people in the state who are doing the right thing, protecting each other during this extraordinary crisis.
"I am so grateful to live in a state with those millions of really good people."

"Name-calling is easy. Leading during a global pandemic is not," the Illinois Holocaust Museum said over Twitter. The institution thanked Pritzker for "making hard decisions to save the lives of Illinoisans. References to murderous Nazi policies and the horrors of the Holocaust are misguided and just plain wrong."

"We support Governor Pritzker's efforts to save precious human lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and condemn strongly any comparison of these measures with the murderous Nazi regime," Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blase J. Cupich tweeted. "Hate has no home here."