Jewish groups demand Poland explain naked game of tag in Nazi gas chamber: After learning 2015 video was shot in the Stutthof death camp in Poland, groups representing Holocaust survivors pen letter to country's president asking who gave… https://t.co/AAnvxnOXjt TimesofIsrael pic.twitter.com/S4E7oKx71K— Jewish Community (@JComm_BlogFeeds) November 29, 2017
A Polish artist was allowed to film naked people playing tag inside a gas chamber at a former Nazi concentration camp. Now Holocaust survivor groups are demanding answers.
A 5-minute video (Warning: NSFW) titled "Game of Tag" shows several men and women, all completely naked, laughing and chasing each other around a concrete gas chamber. The video was shot in two different places: "In the basement of a private home and in a gas chamber of one of the former concentration camps,” said the video caption and was created by Polish artist Artur Zmijewski.
The description states the video attempts to "face the trauma of Holocaust and to radically deal with it."
"This work is full of cruel fun, sadism, nudity and childish carelessness at the same time. It is full of innocence, laughter, juvenile amusement. It was all about the visual reconstruction of a situation. Just as it was back then: naked people in a gas chamber. But instead of horror, we have giggles, toys, erotic games, innocent frolics. What a relief!" it concludes.
It is NOT a relief. The fact that the artist thought depicting the victims of the Holocaust in such a light would be amusing or enlightening is just extremely sickening. One certainly has to wonder whether Zmijewski was quite right in the head.
The not-even-remotely funny video was filmed in 1999 and was later displayed at a 2015 exhibit called "Poland – Israel – Germany: The Experience of Auschwitz" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow.
Researchers have only recently discovered it was filmed inside the Stutthof concentration camp, east of the city of Gdansk in Poland. Jerusalem-based lawyer David Schonberg realized the footage was shot in Stutth of after noticing that clippings from Prince William and Kate's visit in July showed the same stains on the wall , doors at both ends and a ledge along the wall.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial experts confirmed his discovery.
The controversial exhibit was endorsed by the Israeli embassy in Poland in 2015 but it soon requested its removal after it prompted international outrage from various Jewish groups who called the piece of "art" most disgusting" and "revolting," according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Efraim Zuroff.
Although the museum initially shelved the video after the outcry, it soon had it reinstated, claiming the artist Zmijewski's right to "freedom of artistic expression."
Earlier this week, the Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda asking if the artist had asked for permission from the Stutthof administrators to make his video, what were the rules of conduct at the former concentration camp and whether they were enforced.
It also noted that at time, no criticism was heard from Polish official sources, the prime minister's office or any other government representative — or even Poland's Ministry of Culture or Foreign Ministry.
"It was banned in Germany, Estonia took it down when we contacted them. In Poland for some reason, which lost 6 million people — 3 million Jews and 3 million Poles — they didn't get it," Zuroff said.
"This is a problem that needs to be addressed. If people are not sufficiently sensitive to the terrible acts of the Holocaust and do not respect its victims then proper conduct in the sites in Poland cannot be properly secured," Schonberg told BBC.
"This also requires proper scrutiny of these sites and making sure that objectionable materials that are so insensitive to the memory of the Holocaust will not be brought on public display."
Stutthof was the first Nazi camp established outside Germany's borders and was set up in 1939. It was first used to incarcerate "undesirable Polish elements" but by 1942, grew into a concentration camp, which included 39 sub-camps.
The camp housed 110,000 Jewish and non-Jewish people for five years. Around 65,000 prisoners — including 28,000 Jews — were killed by the Nazis there by shooting, hanging, lethal injections, gas chamber, malnutrition and disease.
Stutthof was the last camp to be liberated by the Soviet Army on May 9, 1945.