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New Auschwitz ‘showers’ cause visitor outrage

Joe Williams September 1, 2015

Management at the former Nazi concentration camp have caused controversy by installing sprinklers above entrances to the site.

When the team in charge of the Auschwitz Memorial installed sprinklers outside the former Nazi concentration camp, they thought they were helping visitors keep cool in the blistering summer heat – instead, they have sparked outrage.

As temperatures soared in Poland over the weekend, offended visitors to the site compared the cooling misting stations to the death “showers” – used to exterminate members of the Jewish faith, as well as homosexuals and a host of other “undesirables” – at the camp during the Second World War.

“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,” one visitor told the Jerusalem Post.

“Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick,'” he added.

While critics say museum management should have been more sensitive, officials at Auschwitz have failed to see a connection between the misters and the infamous “showers” that were used to slaughter so many.

“Because of the extreme heat wave we have experienced in August in Poland, mist sprinklers which cool the air were placed near the entrance to the Museum,” the Auschwitz Memorial Facebook page said.

“It is really hard for us to comment on some suggested historical references since the mist sprinkles do not look like showers and the fake showers installed by Germans inside some of the gas chambers were not used to deliver gas into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.”

More than one million people, most of them European Jews, died between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Many gay men were imprisoned by the allied authorities after the liberation of the concentration camps as homosexuality remained illegal.

In June, two British teenagers were fined for stealing artefacts from Auschwitz in Poland.

Earlier this year, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg became the first senior politician to back the inclusion of gay victims of Nazi persecution in a national Holocaust memorial.

Speaking to PinkNews on Holocaust Memorial Day, the former Lib Dem leader paid a moving tribute to the gay victims of the Nazis and to the pink triangle which he said has evolved from “a badge of shame” to “an international symbol of freedom and pride”.

More: Auschwitz, Europe, Poland, Poland, World War Two

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