Auschwitz Memorial: Millions Died Here, Don't 'Pose' For Instagram Shots
The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland has been forced to remind people not to use the concentration camps where more than one million people died for their social media posts.
Taking to Twitter, the Auschwitz Memorial posted four photos of people balancing along the train tracks at Auschwitz II–Birkenau -- the same train tracks bearing almost a million Jewish people, and tens of thousands of Polish people, Roma people, LGBT people, and disabled people.
"When you come to Auschwitz, remember you are at the site where over one million people were killed," it said.
"Respect their memory. There are better places to learn to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolises deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths."
In another tweet, it confirmed these images had been found on social media, but asked that visitors to behave in a respectful manner at all times.
"While of course the images we presented have been found in social media, we rather ask for general respect and thoughtful behaviour at the site of the memorial -- no matter if it is photographed or not."
Visitors are allowed to take photographs, but are asked to "observe the appropriate solemnity and respect".
"Photographs taken at Auschwitz by visitors can commemorate the victims and help us to educate about the history of Auschwitz. Indeed, a 'picture can be worth a thousand words'," the museum said.
It's not the first time tourists have been asked to show more respect at Auschwitz. In 2018, Jewish groups and charities asked people to stop taking selfies inside the former camps, while others were remonstrated for taking pictures of themselves inside the gas chambers.
"People need to think about where they are and take themselves back to that point in time when these camps were the sites of murder and genocide," Lilian Black, chair of the Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association, told The Metro at the time.
"Think of the thousands of dead emaciated bodies that lay where you are stood. ‘It is offensive to people such as myself, whose grandparents and aunties actually perished in these horrible places. There is no sense of dignity about a selfie."
There's also been debate around the appropriate way to behave at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, a collection of more than 2,700 concrete slabs of different heights designed for people to walk through and confront the atrocity in a personal -- and forcibly individual -- way.
In 2017, Israeli-German artist Shahak Shapira chose 12 selfies taken at the site -- selected from thousands on Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and Grindr -- and doctored them into images from concentration camps.
He titled his project Yolocaust, a portmanteau of 'you only live once', a.k.a. 'YOLO', and Holocaust. It went viral, with his website viewed more than 2.5 million times in the space of a few short days.
"I felt like people needed to know what they were actually doing, or how others might interpret what they were doing," Shapira told the BBC.
It reached all 12 people whose photos had been chosen, almost all of whom reached out to Shapira, apologised, and removed their selfies.
"[I feel] kind of sick looking at it," one person wrote to Shapira, whose photo was among the 12.
"I didn't mean to offend anyone. Now I just keep seeing my words in the headlines ... I am sorry. I truly am."
Shapira since deleted the photos but left the website live with a message about his project.
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