An Alaska state lawmaker shared a sensitive image on his Facebook last week, likening members of the media and medical professionals who provide information about COVID-19 vaccines to Nazis executed for war crimes.
Alaska House Rep. Ron Gillham, R-Kenai/Soldotna, shared a factually inaccurate photo of a public hanging with a caption that alleged the executions were of members of the media and medical community who misled the public during Nazi Germany. Above the photo read: “Still so sure you want to try to force me to get the experimental vaccination?”
In an interview with the Clarion on Monday evening, Gillham said he meant “nothing” by his June 21 Facebook post.
“I just shared it,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that comes around and you just send it around.”
The caption below the photo states the hangings were in Nuremberg, Germany.
“Members of the Media who lied and misled the German People were executed, right along with Medical Doctors and Nurses who participated in medical experiments using living people as guinea pigs. Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it,” the caption stated.
According to an article published in the Project MUSE journal — a publication of full-text accounts from the world’s leading universities and scholarly societies — the photo referenced in Gillham’s post actually depicted the execution of Germans convicted of war crimes in post-Holocaust Kiev, Ukraine, in 1946, courtesy of the Ukrainian Central State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The social media post has also been deemed “misleading” by the Agence France-Presse fact-checking news outlet, which states that the photo was taken in Kiev — not Nuremberg — and only one member of the media was executed, a journalist who founded and spearheaded the antisemitic newspaper Der Steurmer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the federal government does not require individuals to get the COVID vaccine. The shots are also approved for emergency use, and are not considered experimental.
Gillham’s post had garnered nine reactions on Facebook and five shares as of Monday evening. One individual commented that “history should repeat itself.”
Gillham said he didn’t see the person’s comment in an interview with the Clarion.
“I did not see it and I don’t know who it was,” he said.
When asked if he thought sharing the post could be harmful to media and medical professionals, Gillham said he had no further comment.
“I just cannot make a statement at the moment,” he said.
The post was still viewable on Gillham’s page as of 10 p.m. Monday.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.