Show some respect! Woman sparks outrage after posing outside Auschwitz ‘gate of death’
As the world pays tribute to those who died in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Auschwitz Museum has spoken out against 'Holocaust tourists' who take inappropriate photos at the site of the former Nazi-German extermination camp.
The criticism comes after an image of a woman posing on the train tracks in front of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland went viral, with many slamming the behaviour of the tourists as being disrespectful.
On Saturday, a producer for UK news channel GB News Maria Murphy posted a snap of the visitors.
Her image captures the moment a man squatting on the railway track takes a photo with his mobile of a woman with a red plaid shirt and dark sunglasses in the other.
The woman is leaning on the tracks, her face turned towards the sun as she grins.
The backdrop for the "fun snap" is the Gate of Death at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where over a million people were killed.
Behind the couple is another woman playing the notorious tourist game of balancing on the rail track.
Posting the snap in a tweet that has been viewed over 30 million times, Murphy wrote: "Today I had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Regrettably it didn’t seem everyone there found it quite so poignant."
Internet users were quick to express their outrage at the couple's behaviour. Murphy noted that during the tour all tourists were asked to be "considerate and respectful."
She also added that she took the photo about two hours after the tour began, dispelling comments that perhaps the couple were not aware of the gravity of their surroundings.
Murphy added in a comment under her tweet that during the tour, tourists were repeatedly asked to be serious and respectful and not to take inappropriate photos.
Although the couple were outside the camp boundary when the photo was taken, it did not stop people from expressing their outrage.
Twitter user @darrengrimes_ wrote “Wtf is wrong with people?!”
@fatfei_ commented: “Shocking. Do they actually know where they are!”
Meanwhile, @tweschaller summed up many other users’ feelings, writing: “this is genuinely shocking”.
Shortly after the image was posted, the Auschwitz Museum posted: “Pictures can hold immense emotional & documentation value for visitors. Images help us remember.
“When coming to @AuschwitzMuseum visitors should bear in mind that they enter the authentic site of the former camp where over 1 million people were murdered. Respect their memory."
Murphy’s photo is the latest example of what the Auschwitz Museum and many others see as troubling and disrespectful behaviour at the site, often later appearing online in the form of tasteless souvenir photos on social media.
For many, the tracks leading to the Gate of Death have become nothing more than an ‘Instagramable’ photo set.
In March 2019, the Auschwitz Museum shared a series of photos on Twitter showing young people balancing on the rail tracks that brought transports of Jews and Poles and other groups of victims to the death camp.
“When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed. Respect their memory. There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolizes deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths,” it wrote.
A year earlier, three girls sparked outrage after a picture emerged showing them doing Nazi salutes at the same spot as Murphy’s photo.
The Racist and Xenophobic Behaviour Monitoring Centre commented on the photo, saying: “The girls’ ‘prank’ proves how education about the horrors of the Holocaust and totalitarian systems is needed.”
Despite repeated warnings from the Auschwitz Museum to be respectful of the site, tourists continue to behave inappropriately, sparking calls for greater education on the horrors of the Holocaust and totalitarian systems.
Speaking in an interview, the museum’s press officer, Pawel Sawicki, said that posting pictures of people disrespecting the site wasn’t intended to shame them “but to raise awareness. People have to be aware of the nature of the place they visit.”