The teenagers smile as they take selfies with a heroically posed Hitler, apparently unaware that the giant backdrop to their happy moment is the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where more than a million people were exterminated by the Nazi dictator's regime. It's a scene that plays out every day at a waxwork and visual effects museum in Yogyakarta, an Indonesian city better known for its universities, Javanese culture, and as the seat of a historic sultanate, per the AP. The infotainment-style museum, De Mata, is defending the display as "fun" for teenagers. Human Rights Watch denounced the exhibit as "sickening" and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which campaigns against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, demanded its immediate removal.
"Everything about it is wrong. It's hard to find words for how contemptible it is," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center. "The background is disgusting." Warli, the marketing officer for the museum who goes by one name, said he was aware Hitler was responsible for mass murder but defended the waxwork, on display since 2014, as "one of the favorite figures for our visitors to take selfies with. No visitors complained about it. Most of our visitors are having fun because they know this is just an entertainment museum," he said. And an eclectic one at that: To one side of Hitler there's Darth Vader and directly opposite is Indonesia's current president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. Warli says he'll discuss the Simon Wiesenthal Center's demand with management.