TEL AVIV – A Czech tour bus advertising the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz as an attractive holiday destination has been slammed by Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors.
The bus is plastered with real images of victims of the Nazis as well as a giant Star of David over train tracks leading to the Nazi concentration camp that took 1.1 million lives.
The bus is emblazoned with the camp’s infamous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work sets you free”) and underneath is an invitation to “Come to Auschwitz – A journey through emotions.”
The bus was originally used as a prop by Czech director Vit Klusak in a satirical film on the growing industry of Holocaust tourism.
A Czech tourist company bought the bus after the film’s completion but has so far refused to remove the offensive images.
Erika Bezdickova, whose entire family was murdered in the death camp when she was 13 years old, slammed the tourist company, saying “only a person with no moral decency could make a business out of the Auschwitz catastrophe.”
“I was absolutely appalled when I spotted the bus offering the tours to Auschwitz,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
The Prague Jewish Museum Director Leo Pavlat told local media that he sent a letter to the company asking for the immediate removal of the images.
But so far, bus owner Svatopluk Strava Auto Xaver, who lives in Blucina in the Czech Republic, has refused to comply, saying he cannot afford to have the ad removed.
“I use the bus and I have to somehow earn money,” he said. “To remove the stickers would destroy the paint finish.”
Earlier this month, the city of Kaunas in Lithuania defended the operator of a former concentration camp that is now being used to hold recreational events.
Following an article published last month by JTA about summer camps, barbecue parties, treasure hunts, and camping activities taking place at the Seventh Fort, the site of the bodies of thousands of Jews killed by the Nazis and local collaborators, Deputy Mayor Povilas Maciulis claimed that all the activities were “educational” in nature.