Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday issued an apology for his comments about Anne Frank during an anti-vaccination rally held in Washington, D.C., Sunday after criticism from Jewish organizations.
"I apologize for my reference to Anne Frank, especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors," Kennedy tweeted Tuesday. "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."
Kennedy came under fire after he compared unvaccinated Americans to the plight of Frank, a German-Dutch teenager of Jewish heritage who famously spent about two years hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust.
"What we're seeing today is what I call turnkey totalitarianism," Kennedy said at Sunday's rally. "They are putting in place all of these technological mechanisms for control we've never seen before. It's been the ambition of every totalitarian state since the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of behavior, of conduct, of thought and to obliterate dissent. None of them have been able to do it. They didn't have the technological capacity.
"Even in Hitler's Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. I visited in 1962 East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died.
"But it was possible," he added.
The Anti-Defamation League, the Auschwitz Memorial, and the Holocaust Museum released statements following the rally condemning Kennedy's remarks.
Kennedy "invoking Anne Frank's memory and the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis as a comparison to the U.S. gov't working to ensure the health of its citizens is deeply inaccurate, deeply offensive and deeply troubling," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted Monday.
The Auschwitz Memorial said, "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 [a] global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral & intellectual decay."
"Those who carelessly invoke Anne Frank, the star badge, and the Nuremberg Trials exploit history and the consequences of hate," the Holocaust Museum tweeted from its official account on Monday.
Kennedy's wife, actress Cheryl Hines, also criticized his comments, saying the reference to Frank "was reprehensible and insensitive."
"The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything," she added. "His opinions are not a reflection of my own."
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