Auschwitz Visitors Outraged by Heat-Wave Showers

Management says it's just trying to keep people cool
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2015 6:30 PM CDT
Updated Sep 5, 2015 7:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some Jewish tourists are none too pleased with a new addition at the historical Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland: sprinkler showers. This at a place where more than a million Jews, Soviet war prisoners, and Gypsies were murdered, often in poison-gas chambers that they believed were shower facilities, the New York Post notes. "I was in shock," says Jewish tourist Meyer Bolka. "It was a punch to the gut." Bolka tells Ynet News that younger Israelis enjoyed the misting devices near the entrance—Poland is having a heat wave, after all—but older visitors didn't like it: "I think that in a place like this they should have thought about the type of connotation this would raise," he says. The showers were set up to cool off visitors waiting in line outside. (See a tweeted photo of the showers here.)

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"We would expect people who deal with the Holocaust, especially in a place like Auschwitz, to think before they act and to be more sensitive,” the chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors tells the Jerusalem Post. The museum says in a statement that "the health of our visitors is for us the priority during the time of these extreme [high temperatures] and the sprinklers have been really helpful," but they will be taken down when temperatures cool down. Haaretz reports that angry tourists posted an image of the misting devices on Facebook, where some commenters expressed outrage but most cracked jokes, like one who advised people "not to fall for the same trick again." (Click to read about how Holocaust survivors' trauma may live on on their kids' genes.)

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