Press Release

ADL Distressed by Spike in Nazi References in Response to Germany’s World Cup Victory over Brazil

New York, NY, July 9, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the series of Nazi and Holocaust references flooding social media in response to Germany’s 7-1 victory over Brazil in the World Cup semifinals, calling the phenomenon “insulting to the German team and demeaning to Holocaust survivors and victims.”

According to news reports, on July 7 some 14,000 tweets included the word “Nazi” or “Nazis.”  That number quadrupled on the day of the match to more than 95,000 “Nazi” references. After the game, one public official, a Malaysian member of parliament, tweeted “well done…bravo… LONG LIVE HITLER.” The tweets have appeared in many foreign languages and various memes across social media and the Internet.

“The Nazi references on social media in response to Germany’s victory are insulting to the German team and demeaning to Holocaust survivors and victims,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and himself a Holocaust survivor.  “These tweets falsely and irresponsibly identify current, democratic Germany with the horrific past of the country, which the present German government and people have denounced and rejected.  Germany has done so much to atone for its past, and to have this happen now is terribly hurtful.”

Mr. Foxman added: “We have long maintained that the World Cup and professional soccer is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, nor should the game be an excuse to make inappropriate and insensitive Nazi references.  It is an insult to the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust. It is anathema to the values of sportsmanship. The Nazi and Holocaust references must stop.”

Other tweets and social media posts regarding the German team made reference to Auschwitz or referred to Germany “storming into another country.” Some messages made light of Holocaust denial, while others featured wordplay on the word Nazi, such as “Brazil did Nazi this coming.”

A recent ADL poll of anti-Semitic attitudes in 100 countries found that knowledge about the Holocaust varies widely depending on the country. In the survey, 54 percent of those polled globally responded affirmatively when asked if they had heard about the Holocaust in Europe during World War II. Another 35 percent of those polled indicated they had no knowledge of the Holocaust, and 10 percent responded “don’t know.”

“This is an issue of sensitivity,” Mr. Foxman said in reference to the Nazi tweets.  “People tweeting or sending messages through other media that invoke Hitler or the Holocaust clearly know something about history, but are tone deaf to what it means to the Jewish people and to Germany.  Clearly, we must not only educate people about the history, but we must sensitize them that repeated references to Hitler and the Holocaust are deeply offensive and insensitive.”