Polish PM scorns anti-vaxxers' Auschwitz allusion

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, took to Facebook on Wednesday to lash out against far-right MPs who referenced the infamous gate of Auschwitz to protest against Covid-19 passes.

On Tuesday evening, a group of MPs representing the far-right Confederation party staged a protest in front of parliament against plans to introduce Covid passes in Poland. They also used a banner resembling the gate of Auschwitz, a German WWII concentration camp and a symbol of the Holocaust.

The gate originally bears an inscription in German 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work sets you free), but the protesters replaced the slogan with their own, which said 'Vaccination sets you free'.

"The inscription on the entry to the camp is one of the most sacred images symbolising German cruelty, barbarism and the crimes of World War II," Morawiecki wrote, recalling that Auschwitz took the lives of between 1.1 and 1.5 million people.

The prime minister said the use of the Auschwitz image by the MPs was "a dramatic and dark picture of how low some politicians and protesters can descend in their mindless anti-vaccine rhetoric."

In a Wednesday tweet, the Israeli charge d'affairs in Poland, Tal Ben Ari, criticised the MPs' use of the Auschwitz reference in their protest.

"Most of my father's family was murdered in @Auschwitz along with more than a million other victims. This sign is disrespectful to their memory, and I find it unbelievable that such Holocaust distortion can happen 300 km from where the original sign stands," she wrote on Twitter.

"In a time when we should unite to fight the pandemic, it saddens me to see some people rather spread hatred and sow divisions, using history's darkest hour as a gimmick," Tal Ben Ari added.