Holocaust-Denying School Board Candidate Shows Up At TC Synagogues

A Holocaust denier running for the Roseville School Board this fall visited two Twin Cities synagogues during the High Holidays in pursuit of his antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

In two separate blog posts, Vaughn Klingenberg wrote that he attended services about a week before Yom Kippur (around the time of Rosh Hashanah) where he distributed papers on the “Big Zionist Jewish responsibility for the Holocaust.” He then wrote that he went to another synagogue for Kol Nidre services. Kol Nidre is a prominent prayer said on Yom Kippur.

TC Jewfolk is not publishing the names of the synagogues for community security purposes, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas confirmed that Klingenberg’s visits happened.

“It is appalling that on the holiest days of the Jewish calendar … that an obsessive Holocaust denier and antisemite who espouses the most vile conspiracy theories would violate our sacred spaces,” said Ethan Roberts, deputy executive director of the JCRC.

“The JCRC is working closely with our community partners and law enforcement to do everything possible to ensure that Vaughn Klingenberg knows that he is not welcome at our houses of worship and Jewish community institutions.”

Klingenberg’s writings on an open-source, “uncensored” foreign policy blog echo some of his comments on a July podcast where he said, “us Holocaust truthers are doing the Jews a favor,” and denied that Jews were gassed to death or that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

He wrote about several conspiracies, such as blood libel, which accuses Jews of killing Christian children and drinking their blood. He also obsessed over an alleged war against non-Jews that echoes similar antisemitic theories that inspired the shooter that killed 11 Jews praying at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

He called Kol Nidre “transparently deceitful, misanthropic, anti-vow,” and sought out several synagogues before settling on the one he claims to have visited. 

Kol Nidre is a legalistic prayer that annuls vows and oaths made during the coming year, recited three times at the beginning of the Yom Kippur service. It evolved as a Jewish response to persecution – a ritualistic way to give peace to Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam. 

“It was a way to absolve ourselves, get right with God, in terms of having to lie about being Jewish because we didn’t have a choice,” Roberts said. He called Klingenberg’s conspiracy theories about Kol Nidre – Klingenberg thinks the prayer allows Jews to cheat and lie with non-Jews – “intentional perversion.”

Klingenberg’s run for school board, where he is one of seven candidates for three open seats, is coming off a legislative session earlier this year where Holocaust and genocide education was mandated for schools in Minnesota.

As part of that effort, community members testified at the State Capitol about the dangers of Holocaust denial – including Dora Zaidenweber, a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor who died Sept. 21.

“We’re just imploring people to pay attention to these races, and not just in Roseville,” Roberts said. “You have a responsibility to vote, you have responsibility to educate yourself about the election to know who the candidates are, and participate.”

Klingenberg’s blog posts speak positively about the Nazi Einsatzgruppen, killing squads responsible for murdering many Eastern European Jews in shooting sprees known as the “Holocaust by Bullets.”

He then proposes a solution to the “Jewish Question” that involves mass sterilization of Jews, stripping Jews of employment, and closing all synagogues.

Klingenberg clearly endorses these plans, quoting himself as saying, “I approve this message.”

Roberts called Klingenberg’s writing Hitler-esque. “Language fails to convey how vile and threatening that rhetoric is,” he said.