Auschwitz Summer Cooling 'Showers' Anger Visitors

"I was in shock. It was a punch to the gut."

At least some visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland were shocked to find what resembled showers installed near the entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp.

During World War II, victims were murdered in gas chambers that they had been told were showers.

"As soon as I got off the bus I walked into the shower contraption," Meyer Bolka, an Israeli visiting the museum, told Ynetnews. "I was in shock. It was a punch to the gut."


The operators of Auschwitz say tourists have fainted in the "extreme heat" hitting Poland this summer, and that the sprinklers were put in to help keep visitors cool as they waited in the queue, which has no shade. 

Local Jewish representatives said that while they understand the reaction, the museum operators were just trying to help visitors.

“In retrospect, a more sensitive construction and location could have been found," Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, told the Jerusalem Post. "However, I am moved by the concern for the welfare of visitors shown by the administration.”


Auschwitz added that the misting sprays do not resemble the Nazi gas chambers: 

"It is really hard for us to comment on some suggested historical references since the mist sprinkles do not look like showers and the fake showers installed by Germans inside some of the gas chambers were not used to deliver gas into them. Zyklon B was dropped inside the gas chambers in a completely different way -- through holes in the ceiling or airtight drops in walls."


But some say this situation could've been better handled.

“We would expect people who deal with, of the Holocaust, especially in a place like Auschwitz, to think before they act and to be more sensitive,” Colette Avital, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, told the Post.

More than 1 million people were killed at Auschwitz during the war. Although most of the victims were Jewish, the Nazis also killed Gypsies, resistance fighters, Soviet prisoners, gays and others at the concentration camp. 

The site is now a memorial to the Holocaust.


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