During his speech at an anti-vaccination rally in Washington on Sunday, Mr Kennedy said: “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”
Responding to this excerpt of his speech on Twitter, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum wrote: “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.”
Mr Kennedy took to Twitter on Tuesday to apologise, writing: “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.”
This is not the first time that comparisons to the Nazis have been used by anti-vaccination demonstrators.
In April, protesters at an anti-vaccination rally held in London were pictured wearing the yellow star. Comedian David Baddiel took to Twitter to share a photo of a woman wearing the yellow star, accompanying it with the caption: “Take. That. Off.”
Footage taken on 13th July showed Piers Corbyn comparing vaccinations to Nazi policy outside the Houses of Parliament, despite being arrested after a similar incident in February. The video shows Mr Corbyn and another man standing in front of a sign which reads “No Nazi forced jab” and yelling “arrest Matt Hancock” through a megaphone.
Earlier this year, Joseph Szwarc, a Holocaust survivor, spoke out against wearing the yellow star in protests, saying: “You can’t imagine how much that upset me. This comparison is hateful. We must all rise up against this ignominy.” With tears in his eyes, Mr Szwarc added: “I wore the star, I know what that is, I still have it in my flesh. It is everyone’s duty to not allow this outrageous, antisemitic, racist wave to pass over us.”
Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination networks have become known as hotbeds of antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes.