Sign with Auschwitz slogan displayed at Chicago protest against stay-at-home orders

Elias Hubbard
May 5, 2020

Amongst the hundreds of Friday afternoon protestors opposing the extension of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order were two with anti-Semitic ones: one sign read, "Heil, Pritzker" with a large swastika next to it, and another read, "Arbeit Macht Frei", the German phrase for "Work Makes You Free", which appeared over the entrance to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.

The Associated Press has attempted to debunk a viral photo depicting an anti-coronavirus lockdown protester brandishing a sign featuring a Nazi slogan, but the photo they identified as the original is of a completely different person and sign.

Pritzker, who is of Jewish descent, denounced the protester for carrying the sign at Friday's rally in front of the governor's office at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago as well as several other demonstrators he said carried signs containing swastikas, including one referring to the governor "Heil Pritzker".

"I asked, 'Do you know what that stands for?"

Dennis Kosuth, who took the photo and posted it to Twitter, said he did not intend to confront protesters at the rally but spoke out after seeing the sign, according to the publication. Kosuth told NBC. "They were not respecting our space. They would come up to us and get in our faces".

"I've spent decades of my life fighting against bigotry & hatred".

The governor tweeted that "there were quite a number of people protesting by carrying signs filled with hate".

It said in a Tweet that the phrase was used by the SS as a "false, cynical illusion" to the prisoners of Auschwitz and has since became "one of the icons of human hatred".

Holocaust survivors often describe the slogan as a reminder of the many ways in which the Nazis tried to give their prisoners false hope, with the inscription suggesting to the people arriving at the camps that hard work would eventually secure their release, when their deaths were already certain. It's painful to see this symbol instrumentalized and used again to spread hate. It's a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration.

"I am so grateful to live in a state with those millions of really good people", Pritzker said.

The protest in Chicago is the latest in a series of demonstrations around the country to reopen the economy.

Pritzker has extended the stay-at-home order till May 30.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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