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Ohio Congressman Apologizes for COVID-19 Protocols With Nazi-Era ‘Health Pass’

A Republican Congressman has apologized for a tweet that compared Nazi persecution of Jews and other vulnerable minorities with current US government efforts to increase vaccinations against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Ohio GOP Rep. Warren Davidson faced widespread condemnation after he tweeted a photograph of a Nazi-era “health pass” alongside an earlier posting from Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of Washington, DC, advising the city’s residents to remember their vaccination IDs and masks when going out.

“This has been done before. #Donotcomply,” Davidson declared.

The photograph shared by Davidson showed a “Gesundheitspass” (“health pass”) belonging to a German woman and issued by the Nazis. The pass was a component of the Nazis’ eugenics policy, distinguishing those citizens deemed “Aryans” from those of “impure” origin, like Jews, as well as people with hereditary diseases and disabilities.

In a follow-up tweet, Davidson expanded on his analogy between Jews who were subjected to Nazi racial laws and today’s US citizens who freely refuse the vaccine.

“Let’s recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them, segregated them before imprisoning them, imprisoned them before enslaving them, and enslaved them before massacring them,” Davidson opined.

Among those condemning Davidson’s appropriation of the Holocaust was Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

“Yad Vashem strongly condemns the use of the Holocaust to further agendas that are totally unrelated to the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem tweeted in response to Davidson. “Manipulating the Holocaust in this way trivializes the horrific atrocities that were perpetrated and denigrates the memory of victims and survivors.”

The Auschwitz Museum also weighed in, declaring on Twitter: “Exploiting of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured and murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany in a debate about vaccines and Covid limitations in the time of global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay.”

On Thursday, Davidson backed down in a further tweet in which he offered “sincere apologies … to my Jewish friends and all others.”

Invoking a quote commonly attributed to Mark Twain — “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes” — Davidson explained that he had not meant to draw a direct comparison with Nazi atrocities in making his argument about the “segregation” of non-vaccinated individuals. He also reiterated his earlier claims about “dehumanizing people.”

However, he continued, “any reference to how the Nazis did that prevents a focus on anything other than the Holocaust. I appreciate my Jewish friends who have explained their perspectives and feel horrible that I have offended anyone.”

Politicians and activists around the world who are opposed to certain COVID-19 public health measures have frequently seized on images and language associated with the Holocaust as a propaganda tool. In the US, several Republican politicians have attracted ire for drawing on the analogy, among them federal lawmakers Thomas Massie (KY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and state legislators in OhioWashingtonIdahoConnecticut and other states.