Culture Wars/Current Controversies

You Know Who Else Opposed Vaccine Mandates? Hitler.

Do you know who else was a vegetarian straight edge who liked animals, and favored nationalized healthcare, environmentalism, and smoking bans?

By Branko Marcetic, Jacobin

Contrary to claims about “fascist” vaccine mandates currently circulating on the Right, the Nazis actually relaxed German vaccine mandates — and hoped doing the same for people they conquered would kill them faster.

Pop quiz: What allowed the Nazis to seize and hold on to autocratic power in Germany for more than a decade, and carry out the horrific crimes they’re known for? Was it a police state that trampled on the rights to privacy, protest, and speaking out, enforced by brutal and sometimes secret paramilitary forces with the help of a pervasive surveillance state? Or was it a vaccine mandate?

In the topsy-turvy world of right-wing politics in today’s pandemic-riddled United States, it’s not even a question: clearly, the vaccines did it. Since Joe Biden issued a sweeping vaccine mandate last week, right-wing media and politicians wasted no time in deploying the Nazi comparisons, calling the move “fascist,” “totalitarian,” “authoritarian,” and invoking swastikas and the Nuremberg Code.

There’s only one problem: the Nazis didn’t actually issue a vaccine mandate. In fact, Republicans would have found much to like in the Third Reich’s vaccine policy, which was very much in line with their current recommendations: above all, it relaxed requirements for compulsory vaccination that had been in place in Germany for decades at that point, and went with a voluntary approach instead. We even have records of private discussions of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi colleagues clearly showing that, far from viewing vaccine mandates as key to their genocidal goals, the opposite was the case: they knew that withholding compulsory vaccination and other German public-health innovations would help kill more of the undesirable and “inferior” people who they wanted to rid from the world.


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