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August 8, 2022



Czech MP publishes collage comparing vaccinations against COVID-19 to the Holocaust and using imagery of the gate at Auschwitz

15.1.2021 8:34
The collage published on 10 January 2021 by Czech MP Lubomír Volný.
The collage published on 10 January 2021 by Czech MP Lubomír Volný.

The abuse of the memory of Holocaust victims as part of rejecting vaccination against COVID-19 is continuing in the Czech Republic. After several demonstrators against the vaccination rollout wore yellow Jewish stars to public events inscribed with the term "Unvaccinated", Czech MP Lubomír Volný (Jednotní), who was initially elected to the Chamber of Deputies on the list of "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party, has published a distasteful collage in which the message of the sign that hung over the Auschwitz concentration camp, "Arbeit macht frei", has been changed to read "Vaccine macht Frei".

The collage was not produced by the MP but republished from servers abroad. "Corporate fascism will not be any less horrifying than Italian or German fascism. Let's not repeat history, we are always at the most just one generation away from a genocide or a Holocaust," the MP wrote. 

He then went on to instruct his anticipated critics about the historical context of what he was posting. "To those who will take offense at this:  What did you all know about the life of the prisoners in the uranium mines before 1989? Was that a 'conspiracy theory'? What did ordinary Germans know about the concentration camps before 1945? How did Hitler and the communists get to power? Wasn't it 'democratically'?" he wrote.

The collage has been circulating on servers abroad since December 2020 and is dominated by a sign reading "Vaccine macht Frei", or "The Vaccine Will Set You Free", that appears to be arching over the gate to Auschwitz, the concentration camp run by the Nazis where the actual sign over the gate read "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work Will Set You Free"). In addition, the collage mentions Bill Gates, who has become Target Number One for anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and disinformers.

The collage also features another favorite trope of conspiracy theorists, a winged skull symbol believed to represent the Freemasons or Illuminati. The MP is thereby continuing the fad for abusing the memory of Holocaust victims by comparing the current situation to the persecution of Jewish people during the Second World War.

At two recent demonstrations in Prague, several anti-vaxxers wore yellow six-pointed stars pinned to their coats like the ones the Nazis used to label Jewish inhabitants during the Second World War. Instead of being inscribed with "Jude" (Jew), however, the badges were inscribed with the word "Unvaccinated" (in Czech, Neočkovaný).

Volný first drew attention to himself as legislator in February 2019 during sharp debate on an amendment to the law on foreign nationals. His speech in the Chamber prompted laughter, shouting, and banging on the benches.

Czech MP Jan Birke (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) later said that he had yelled at Volný to "knock it off". Allegedly Volný then told Birke to "go outside".

Volný has previously been described as a trafficker in poverty for leasing apartments to impoverished families at exorbitant rents and making money off of the welfare benefits available to aid such people. At the time he was a member of the SPD, a party that otherwise usually calls such citizens "parasites" or "inadaptables" and rejects the current welfare system as costly and dysfunctional. 

Public broadcaster Czech Television's "Reporters" program covered the issue in detail last year. According to them, Volný charges rents that would ordinarily be charged for luxury housing for apartments of inferior quality and the state welfare system pays them. 

In March 2019, Volný evicted several tenants who were Romani families. Reportedly that was his response to the criticism voiced by Czech MP Mikuláš Peksa (Pirates) that he trafficks in poverty.

The subject was also investigated by the Deník N daily paper. Volný then got into an argument with SPD chair Tomio Okamura and left the party.

The controversial legislator is currently a member of the Jednotní ("Uniform") movement. Previously on social media he has also called the late Czech President Václav Havel a traitor or referred to one of the governing parties as the "occupying ČSSD".     

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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