Auschwitz Memorial managers are fending off a firestorm of criticism for installing mist showers at the former Nazi extermination camp in a bid to cool down visitors during the high summer temperatures in Poland.
The new set-up offended Jewish visitors over the weekend who likened the misting stations to the gas chambers used to exterminate 1.1 million prisoners at the death camp.
Meir Bolka, who had traveled from Israel to the museum, complained about the showers.
“As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” Bolka, 48, told The Jerusalem Post.
Not everyone was upset though, the tourist added, saying there were young people who couldn’t make the historical connection. “But for me it was deja vu of the selection and extermination in the showers,” he said.
The memorial’s management, however, maintains the showers are there for the comfort of visitors, adding they didn’t mean to cause offense.
“It is really hard for us to comment on some suggested historical references since the mist sprinkles do not look like showers and the fake showers installed by Germans inside some of the gas chambers were not used to deliver gas into them,” the museum stated on its official Facebook page. “Zyklon B was dropped inside the gas chambers in a completely different way – through holes in the ceiling or airtight drops in walls.”
But Piotr Kadlcik, the immediate past president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, believes the museum should have come up with a better option.
“The Germans twisted the concept of shower – a source of cleanness and relief – into the equivalent of pure horror,” Kadlcik stated in an interview. “We shall not follow this path.”
Despite the massive outrage, the memorial caretakers have refused to take the showers down.