Update September 23, 2020: Further details have been added to paragraph six of this article so that it covers Soros’ description of his time in hiding as a teenager.
Social media users have been sharing an image online that makes several disparaging and false claims about George Soros. Some of these claims include Soros being a former Nazi, Soros “swearing to destroy the U.S.A.”, Soros owning ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter, and Soros paying for protesters. Examples can be seen here and here.
George Soros is a billionaire philanthropist and founder of Open Society Foundations. He has been the target of multiple conspiracy theories and misinformation on social media (here). Previous Reuters fact checks debunking claims about Soros can be found here and here.
Open Society Foundations told Reuters via email that the claims made toward Soros in these posts are “false” and “do a disservice to the very bedrock of our democracy, as enshrined in the First Amendment.”
SOROS IS NOT A FORMER NAZI
Reuters debunked a false claim that a photograph shows a young Soros in a Nazi uniform (here). During the time Nazis were active, Soros would not have met the age requirements to be in the Schutzstaffel. Soros and his family were Hungarian Jews who lived in Budapest during the war, disguising their identities for safety. In 1947 at the age of 17, Soros moved to London to attend university (more here).
By the time Soros was 17, the fall of Nazi Germany had already happened. Soros could not possibly have been involved in the Nazi party which was active between 1920-1945. He is also a Hungarian Jew, further disproving this theory. In a 1998 60 Minutes interview (youtu.be/AiqHiQYuoOs) Soros says his father forged his family’s identity to protect them. Soros, as a teenager, was placed under custody of a government official with the premise of being his godson. During this time, Soros witnessed (but did not actively participate in) the confiscation of Jewish property (here). In the interview, Soros says he doesn’t feel guilt looking back at these events, mentioning that he was a child at the time and that he was a “spectator” to something that would have happened regardless of his presence.
SOROS NEVER SWORE TO “DESTROY THE USA”
An older version of the quote attributes it to a Newsweek interview but there is no evidence Soros said this in their archive. One article quotes Steve Bannon comparing politics to war, saying, “They fight, look at [George] Soros and these other NGOs...they destroy you.” The article also states that, according to Bannon, Soros threatened to “destroy him personally.” (here).
SOROS DOES NOT “OWN” ANTIFA AND BLACK LIVES MATTER
George Soros does not “own” ANTIFA or Black Lives Matter.
A spokesperson for Open Society Foundations told Reuters via email: “We proudly support organizations that promote civic engagement and champion the right of all Americans to petition their government for redress of grievances. Those protesting the death of Mr. Floyd and police brutality across the nation do so out of a deep and abiding concern for country; they don’t do so for pay from these foundations or any other, as some cynics claim.”
Black Lives Matter is a largely horizontal, grassroots, global organization (https:// bit.ly/373z22H). Its co-founders, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza started the movement in 2013, after the death of Trayvon Martin. The co-founders recently told the New Yorker that Black Lives Matter “has always been somewhat decentralized” and operates in a horizontal manner: “We have always said the power goes on in the local chapter because they know what is going on”.
The organization recently set up a $12 million grant to help organizations fighting institutional racism, after an upsurge in donations amid the current protests. Beyoncé and Prince are among the celebrities who have donated to Black Lives Matter in previous years (here).
Open Society Foundations donates to groups worldwide (here). Some of their previous donations - including to Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood - have been subject to controversy in the U.S. (here, here). It is unclear if the foundation has donated to Black Lives Matter again in the last month.
Antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” is an amorphous movement whose adherents oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist, often using aggressive tactics, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremists (here). Horizontal in nature and largely lacking official organization, it is unclear how Antifa is funded, if at all ( here ).
SOROS DID NOT PAY FOR PROTESTERS AFTER TRUMP’S ELECTION
Following Trump’s 2016 election win, some far-right claims suggested actors including Soros funded the ‘Not My President’ protests. Open Society Foundations denied paying these protesters in any way (here, here).
Open Society Foundations recently explained in a tweet: “We do not pay protesters. Neither does our founder George Soros. Claims that we do serve to delegitimize those who are exercising their Constitutionally-protected right to protest peacefully and petition their government for redress of grievances.” (here)
False. Conspiracy theories about George Soros visible in this post are unfounded.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.