The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland condemned a viral photo of a sign of an anti-lockdown protest in Chicago on Friday that carried a phrase from the Nazi concentration camp.
The sign that read "Arbeit macht frei, JB" was held by an unidentified woman at a "Re-Open Illinois" protest in the city's Loop district and addressed to Governor J.B. Prtizker, who is Jewish. "Arbeit macht frei" translates from German to "work will set you free" and was used at the gates of Auschwitz, where at least 1.1 million people died during the holocaust.
The photo was taken around 12:30. by nurse Dennis Kosuth, who attended the event as a counter-demonstrator.
Kosuth said several anti-lockdown protesters were trying to provoke him and other nurses on the grounds that they were actors or that the number of deaths from the coronavirus was not accurate. "My approach was to ignore people," he told BuzzFeed News in a telephone interview on Saturday, "but then I saw her sign and said," This is a big mess. Why did you bring this here? & # 39; "
According to Kosuth, the woman defended her signal and said she had Jewish friends.
Kosuth, who lost a friend and colleague to the coronavirus this week, said he was disgusted by the signal.
"How dare you compare the Holocaust with an order to stay at home?" he said.
Kosuth shared the image on Twitter on Thursday, where it was shared more than 14,000 times.
Among those who shared it, there were officials at the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, who said "it was painful to see this symbol instrumented and used again to spread hatred".
According to the museum, the plaque was placed in five concentration camps – Auschwitz, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen – and also in the Theresienstadt ghetto.
Kosuth was unaware of the memorial's response until his interview with BuzzFeed News, but said he agreed "100% with that statement".
"I am happy in that sense that this photo was released here because it shows the dark side of the story," he said.
There seemed to be some confusion on social media about whether the signal was real.
In a Friday post, Associated Press said a viral photo of a plaque citing the "Nazi slogan that translates to & # 39; work frees you & # 39;" was changed and originally read "Free Small Business!"
But an AP spokesman made it clear to BuzzFeed News that his fact check referred to a sign of a Pittsburgh protests on April 20, not Kosuth from Chicago.
Kosuth denied that his image was altered and said he took it with his own phone.
He provided BuzzFeed News with a live photo showing the woman moving while holding the sign while another woman shouted "the gates of Auschwitz".
Signs with Nazi images and phrases appeared in other protests against the blockade, including one in Springfield, Illinois, on Friday and in Michigan last month.
Asked why he thought his photo went viral, Kosuth replied, "I think a lot of people don't like Nazis – and that gives me hope."