Social media is still all a-Twitter with comments about the latest attempt by the Auschwitz Holocaust memorial museum to cool off visitors to its site. The museum, which issued a statement explaining its position, appears to be digging itself further into an already difficult situation.
In an attempt to reduce the risk to tourists from one of the worst heat waves ever to hit Poland, the site installed a long length of misting shower heads right in front of the death camp.
It is the first sight to greet visitors to Auschwitz, and has shocked many to their very core.
But the Auschwitz Holocaust memorial museum explained in a statement this week that the showers were simply a “public safety measure.”
“We must do everything possible to minimize the risks connected with the heat and high temperatures and take care of the safety of health of our visitors,” museum officials said in a statement posted to Facebook. “The health of visitors is for us the priority during the time of these extreme heats and the sprinklers have been really helpful. The sprinklers are installed on the days of highest temperatures and removed with the temperature drops.”
Tourists making a pilgrimage to the Auschwitz death camp found the reasoning to be bizarre.
One visitor told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site, “It was a punch to the gut.”
More than a million Jews were exterminated at the site by the Nazi regime during World War II, the vast majority murdered in facilities where they were told they were entering ‘shower rooms.’ The “showers” were lethal gas chambers from which the bodies of Jews were then dragged to crematoria for efficient disposal.
Countless visitors come to the camp, among them many Israelis and other Jews, including those who lost relatives in the Holocaust.
Israeli high schools have adopted the custom of bringing eleventh grade students to the Nazi death camps on a special field trip each year called “March of the Living,” to teach them about this part of their history. Special preparations for the trip begin months before the students’ flight to Poland.
Numerous visitors who have been to the site have also posted about the experience on the Google-plus social networking site as well.
Hana Levi Julian