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May 15, 2023 3:30 pm

‘Tasteless and Embarrassing’: Auschwitz Museum Criticizes Ice Cream Stand Outside Former Concentration Camp Entrance


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The sign “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes you free”) is pictured at the main gate of the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland. Reuters/Pawel Ulatowski

An ice cream stand set up outside the former site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland has been slammed by the historical site’s museum as “tasteless” and disrespectful.

Bartosz Bartyzel, a spokesperson for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, told the Polish newspaper Gazeta Krakowska that the stand outside the entrance of the former death camp “is an example of not only aesthetic tastelessness but also a lack of respect for a special historical place located nearby.”

The ice cream stand, which has the words “ice love” on it, appeared nearby in front of the camp’s main gate late last month. Bartyzel said it stands on private property, outside the Holocaust Memorial’s protected zone designated by law, so the museum cannot have it removed, though it remains offensive. “Unfortunately we have no influence on it,” he added. “We trust that the competent local government authorities will solve this embarrassing problem.”

Dagmar Kopijasz, of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site Foundation, reportedly told the state news agency Polish Press Agency (PAP) that nearby residents were also “upset” about the ice cream stand and think it “looks awful.” PAP noted that a portable toilet was also set up nearby the stand.

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Oświęcim Municipality Mayor Andrzej Skrzypiński was quoted by PAP confirming that it was built on private property.

“A contract…has been concluded between its owner [of the land] and the owner of the stand,” he said. “However, we do not know whether the owner of the stand can operate at this location. This is because the local zoning plan requires the consent of the governor of the province. We are investigating this issue.

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