First, if you think that treating a post-holocaust story with humor presents a problem, kindly click away. May I suggest our gifted cartoonist JooHoon? Thank you.
I’m the son of a holocaust survivors, and so dealing with the horror with a touch of humor is both my prerogative and my therapy. OK, I hope that covers all the liabilities. Now the news item:
The management of a Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands (no longer in service, please try again at a later time) on Tuesday decided to drop the sale of bits of barbed wire from the camp, because of protests from Jewish groups.
(Had we known it would be so easy, we would have protested back in 1941. Who knew?)
Harry Ruijs, director of the Kamp Amersfoort Foundation, told AFP he decided not to sell 50 pieces of wire for 10 euros ($13) apiece, which he was planning to sell hoping the income would pay for an exhibition of artifacts discovered at the site, around 30 miles south-west of Amsterdam.
“It seems we have hurt some people and it was not our intention at all,” Ruijs said. “That’s why we decided to halt the sale.”
The exhibition which the sold wire was going to fund (at around $500), was intended to “draw attention to the importance of physical evidence whose preservation costs money.”
Artifacts to be displayed at the exhibition included helmets, water bottles and 150 “mysterious name tags in which the names and addresses have been engraved in mirror image.”
(Sounds like they were used to print those names and addresses, but I’m no holocaust expert. The mystery of mirror-image name tags will linger on.)
Jewish organizations expressed outrage on Tuesday, following the announcement of the barbed wire sale.
(There’s a first – Jews upset at a sale.)
“Barbed wire is the archetypal symbol of the concentration camp. It should not be put up for sale at all,” said Esther Voet, deputy director of the Dutch Center for Documentation and Information on Israel (CIDI).
“Imagine if some of these pieces of barbed wire are ultimately bought by a neo-Nazi. That would be horrible,” Voet said.
(Is there a sanctity of concentration camp barbed wire clause I haven’t heard of? If you ask me, let those neo-Nazis contribute their share to the commemoration effort.)
A spokeswoman for the Netherlands’s Central Jewish Council who asked not to be named said that idea was “completely tasteless and lacking in respect for the victims and their families.”
(As opposed to displays of concentration camp artifacts which are tasteful because they’re supported by government?)
Between 35 000 and 40 000 people were processed in Kamp Amersfoort, at least half of whom were deported to Nazi death camps. The current camp manager Ruijs said he consulted former prisoners at the camp and their relatives before the sale and their reactions had been positive.
“We’ll now give away the barbed wire pieces to those who ask for it and had relatives who passed through the camp,” said Ruijs.
But not even an inch goes to the neo-Nazis!