Naked gas chamber film alarms Jewish groups

Naked gas chamber film alarms Jewish groups

Jewish groups have demanded an explanation for a Polish video artwork showing naked people playing tag inside a Nazi gas chamber.

Holocaust survivors have written to Poland’s president Andrzej Duda asking if the 1999 film at the Stutthof concentration camp, where 65,000 people were killed during the Second World War, was given official approval.

Artur Żmijewski’s film, Game of Tag, was displayed at Krakow’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2015 as part of an exhibition about the Auschwitz death camp.

No details about where it was filmed were given at the time, but the work was condemned as “revolting and a total insult to the victims” by Jewish leaders in 2015.

This July, following a visit by Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, analysts compared the film of Prince William to the Polish video.

It has now been revealed that it was filmed at Stutthof, about 20 miles east of Gdańsk on the Baltic coast, according to the Times of Israel.

The Organisation of Holocaust Survivors in Israel and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which was formed to hunt down Nazi war criminals, are asking the Warsaw authorities about the management of the former concentration camp, which houses a museum.

Their letter asked whether the artist obtained “permission from the Stutthof administrators to make this video, what rules exist for proper conduct at the site, how these are enforced”.

It said “no comment or word of critique was heard from Polish official sources regarding the video, neither from the prime minister’s office, nor from any official or government representative”.

The video was filmed in 1999 and displayed in 2015 at an exhibition called “Poland – Israel – Germany. The experience of Auschwitz”, profiling the camp’s impact on contemporary discussions.

The exhibition was endorsed and sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Poland but, after criticism by Jewish organisations, it called for the video be removed.

Jerusalem-based lawyer David Schonberg first spotted that Żmijewski’s video was shot in Stutthof after noticing the same stains on the walls, ledge, plughole in the centre and doors at each end.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem confirmed the allegation.

“It is the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in a long time,” said Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Centre’s most senior Nazi hunter, in 2015. “It is just revolting and a total insult to the victims and anyone with any sense of morality or integrity.”

Poles arrested in Gdynia, September 1939. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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