An Italian artist’s exhibition that includes a statue of a kneeling Hitler placed at the former location of the Warsaw Ghetto has angered Polish Jews and Christians alike.
Maurizio Cattelan, creator of the exhibition named “Amen,” is already known for controversial artistry. One of his most famous works, “La Nona Ora” (“The Ninth Hour”), shows Pope John Paul II being struck by a meteorite. A description on the website of the Center for Contemporary Art about his new exhibition states that “in a Warsaw ravaged by the cataclysmic 20th century, Maurizio Cattelan’s works take on a particular dimension; they become an artistic commentary on the Catholic credo.”
“What, in fact, does love thy enemy mean?” the description says. “What does forgive those who trespass against us mean? Evoking the traumas of history, they deal with memory and forgetfulness, good and evil.”
Critics say that the Hitler statue provokes mercy for the notorious dictator, which creates mixed feelings in the viewer and can be interpreted as highly offensive. Only a few days after the statue was erected on Warsaw’s Prozna Street, an unidentified person covered its face and hands.
“We want to believe that the statue is intended to show Hitler repenting or apologizing for his evil actions,” said two 81-year-old viewers, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Hitler did not have the right to ask for forgiveness,” another passerby said.