In today’s social media-crazed society, many people feel the need to broadcast themselves to the world every chance they get.
However, the Auschwitz memorial in Poland is reminding its visitors that the site of a former concentration camp might not be the best place to pose for that creative Instagram picture.
Last week the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum’s official Twitter page called out some visitors who weren’t exactly respecting the memory of those who were killed at the site, writing, “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/TxJk9FgxWl— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 20, 2019
The tweet showed some visitors posing for pictures while balancing on the train tracks that lead into one of the most infamous Holocaust camps.
It didn’t take long for the tweet to gain traction and get picked up by other news sites.
The New York Post picked up the story and called to mind another time a visitor to Auschwitz wasn’t exactly honoring those who were lost.
In 2014 a young woman named Breanna Mitchell took a selfie inside the former concentration camp, sparking outrage online.
According to Newsday, Mitchell said she took the selfie because she had studied the Holocaust with her father who had recently died, and that the trip actually meant something to her.
After the uproar, Mitchell told YouTube show TakePart Live that she “didn’t do anything differently because she didn’t mean any harm.”
Auschwitz’s Reminder Made News Around The World
The BBC has an article on the tweet with this quote from someone who responded to it: “This is a very necessary post, our picture taking habits are completely out of control. I may be visiting in the summer. I will make sure I am aware of your photography policy. Thank you for the essential work you continue to do. Without our historical memory we are nothing.”
Twitter user @PBandini74 also chimed in, saying, “When I visited, there was a young lady having her photo taken outside the main gate into Auschwitz I, with various poses, smiling and hair-flicking! The lack of respect is earth-shattering.”
Another user, @L0gicalth0ughtz echoed the general sentiment of commenters saying, “Super upsetting. It’s not even a place where a single smile should be cracked. If you go to a place like this which should overcome you with emotion, and you’re thoughts are to take selfies and dance on the same tracks that led so many to their deaths, you don’t belong visiting.”
It wasn’t just people agreeing with the Auschwitz Memorial’s tweet in the comments, though. There were those who thought the pictures really weren’t that big of a deal.
User @cgstohl had this to say: “Not everyone is at the same place in their journey towards maturity and understanding. Also, different people deal with uncomfortable emotions in different ways-such as laughing at a funeral. Instead of criticizing-educate.”
So far, the tweet has only gone more viral, with more than 44,000 retweets as of this posting.
Photo Credit: Albert Laurence / Unsplash