'Auschwitz vacation' bus sparks controversy

Faux concentration camp bus advertisement draws criticism in Czech Republic.

David Rosenberg,

Auschwitz
Auschwitz
Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

A Czech tour bus adorned with advertisements which appear to market trips to the Auschwitz death camp like a vacation destination has stirred up controversy, with critics calling the bus decorations insensitive.

The bus, which had a large Star of David painted on the sides, along with scenes from Nazi-era death camps and the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign, also included humorous statements, such as the “Our guides speak Czech”.

Auschwitz bus
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The paintings, which actually constitute a faux advertisement, were originally added for use in a film “Svět podle Dalibora”, which pokes fun at the death camp tourism industry in Eastern Europe.

With the words “Come to Auschwitz: A journey through emotions” painted across the back of the bus, the tour bus’ mock advertisements were used in the film to highlight what filmmaker Vit Klusak sees as the oddities emerging from marketing Holocaust tourism.

But even after production of the film has been completed, the tour bus has not been repainted and remains in service – with the fake Auschwitz ads. Critics say the bus’ light-hearted approach to the death camp is insensitive and that the time has come for the faux advertisement to be painted over.

The bus “advertises a trip to the former death camp as Auschwitz-style adventure tourism,” Prague Jewish Museum Director Leo Pavlat said in an interview with iDnes, adding that the museum had registered a formal complaint with the bus operator.

But the owner of the bus, Svatopluk Strava, says the cost of repainting the bus was prohibitively high, claiming it would cost upwards of $1,670 to remove the offending advertisement.




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