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Is it appropriate to sell ice cream directly outside Auschwitz?

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The former Nazi concentration camp museum thinks this is disrespectful and out of context

For about ten days in the Museum of Auschwitz, Poland’s most famous Nazi concentration camp, there was much discussion about the ice cream stand that opened near the entrance. The museum, for example, considers it unsuitable for the setting and disrespectful of its tragic history, but also says it has no legal means of moving it.

The Auschwitz concentration camp, where it was estimated that at least a million people died, can be visited as a museum Since 1946, the year after its prisoners were released at the end of World War II. Hundreds of thousands of visitors go there every year, and recently it has often been at the center of controversy and debates due to its purely touristic approach, and therefore according to some people who visit it lack of respect.

the stall in question sell Both ice cream and wafflewhich are honeycomb chips that are sold in abundance in various European countries, and were set up in early May about 200 meters from the well-known entrance of the Auschwitz Museum, into which trains loaded with deported people entered: mostly Jews, but also Roma and prisoners the war.

Entrance to the Auschwitz Museum (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

The owner of the kiosk is a private individual and the land on which it is set is private: the kiosk has a shocking pink sign that reads “Aiselov”, and in recent days several photos have been circulating depicting him, showing his proximity to the museum entrance.

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The kiosk has been disputed by many residents of the area, who consider it inappropriate to sell ice cream in a place like Auschwitz, which was dedicated by the will of the survivors themselves to and within the memory of the Holocaust. Forbidden Eat, talk on the phone, and in some cases take pictures, always as a sign of respect.

Pausch Sawicki, a spokesman for the museum, described the kiosk as “an example not only of aesthetic bad taste, but also of disrespect for the nearby private historic site”. Tell Sawicki Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the world’s leading press agency targeting the Jewish community, reported that the kiosk had been opened in an area outside the museum’s legal perimeter, and that management could therefore do virtually nothing to close it down or move it away. That’s why Sawicki said he hopes action will be taken by the city authorities.

The mayor of Oświęcim, the Polish municipality in which the museum is located, also intervened in the case, declaring that the kiosk was opened on the basis of an agreement between its owner and the landowner. The electronic magazine Notes from Poland He writes that the city authorities had launched some investigations to understand whether the opening of the kiosk had obtained approval – necessary, says the mayor – from the county government.

city ​​official Then he said for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Krakowska that procedures for moving the kiosk had been initiated, but it was not clear exactly when that would happen.

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Controversies abound about how to experience Auschwitz as a simple tourist attraction: often it concerns the smiling selfies taken by the many visitors in front of the entrance or inside the site, and other times the images of those performing acrobatics on the train tracks they arrive at. The captives were deported. In 2015, there was also discussion about the museum’s decision to install water sprays so that visitors could cool off in the hot months, which, according to some critics, is akin to “bathing” inside the camp, i.e. the gases used to exterminate the prisoners. .

Not everyone agrees that having an ice cream stand in such a place is inappropriate.

Journalist Lev Gringauz, who works for a small newspaper for the Jewish community in Minnesota (USA), pointed out She tweeted that the Minsk region of Belarus, where part of her family was murdered by the Nazis for being Jewish, is very close to a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. “As much as I wish that every place where the extermination of the Jews is remembered was just a memorial, we have to live with the fact that these atrocities were committed in a public place, and that ‘normal’ life continues today, in these spaces,” wrote Gringauz.

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