FLASHBACK: Founder of climate group vandalizing famous paintings said Holocaust was ‘normal event’

Roger Hallam — the founder of Just Stop Oil, a far-left British climate activist organization — once downplayed the Holocaust as a “normal event” and said climate change was a more serious threat.

Hallam, who also founded the climate group Extinction Rebellion, said in 2019 that there were many other instances of cruelty in human history besides the Holocaust, in an interview at the time with German media outlet Die Zeit, according to The Guardian. After facing widespread criticism for the comments, Hallam noted the climate crisis was another Holocaust on a “far greater scale.”

“The fact of the matter is, millions of people have been killed in vicious circumstances on a regular basis throughout history,” Hallam told Die Ziet in the 2019 interview.

“They went to the Congo in the late 19th century and decimated it,” he continued. “[The Holocaust was] almost a normal event. Just another f—ery in human history.”

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Roger Hallam, the founder of Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, gives a lecture on climate change in September 2021.
(Extinction Rebellion UK/YouTube/Video Screenshot)

The climate activist was then roundly condemned for the comments which critics said were insensitive and unhelpful. The German branch of his group Extinction Rebellion even ripped Hallam, tweeting that it would distance itself from his “belittling and relativizing statements” about the Holocaust.

Hallam then backtracked, saying he did not mean to downplay the Holocaust, but he added that climate change poses a greater threat to humanity than the slaughter of millions of Jewish people in the mid-20th century.

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“I want to fully acknowledge the unimaginable suffering caused by the Nazi Holocaust that led to all of Europe saying ‘never again,'” Hallam said. “But it is happening again, on a far greater scale and in plain sight. The global north is pumping lethal levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and simultaneously erecting ever greater barriers to immigration, turning whole regions of the world into death zones.”

“That is the grim reality. We are allowing our governments to willingly, and in full knowledge of the science, engage in genocide of our young people and those in the global south by refusing to take emergency action to reduce carbon emissions.”

Handout photo issued by Just Stop Oil of two protesters who have thrown tinned soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s famous 1888 work Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, Friday Oct. 14, 2022.
(Just Stop Oil via AP)

Hallam’s groups, meanwhile, have pushed for extreme measures to fight global warming and reduce emissions. Both Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have engaged in and staged civil disobedience protests to oppose new oil leasing and energy development.

Just Stop Oil has made headlines in recent months for blocking traffic in busy cities and vandalizing famous pieces of artwork in museums. Last month, two activists affiliated with the group dumped tomato soup on a Vincent van Gogh painting worth millions of dollars at a museum in London.

“You will only be successful when you break the rules and break the laws,” Hallam wrote in an essay in April 2021. “You will start to be successful when you throw off the outlook of life of older people.”

“You need to realize that you are going to get harmed anyway,” he continued. “Putting yourself in harm’s way is in fact the only way you can reduce the far greater harm coming down the line. When you act, your despair will lift in resistance to the death which is planned for you.”

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Hallam implored his followers to “keep going day after day” and to never stop.

Just Stop Oil, however, has received major funding from Aileen Getty, an heiress to the Getty Oil fortune. Getty was the founding donor of Climate Emergency Fund, a California-based organization that funds the so-called A22 Network, an umbrella group that includes Just Stop Oil and similar civil disobedience groups in 10 countries including the U.S., Germany, France and Canada.

Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion did not immediately respond to requests for comment.