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Auschwitz Museum slams tourists for taking ‘balance beam’ photos

Auschwitz Memorial, which preserves the site of the former Nazi death camp, has called on visitors to stop posing for pictures on its railway tracks.

The museum posted the message on Twitter in response to a growing trend of visitors balancing on the beams of the notorious railway tracks leading to the gatehouse of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp in Poland.

The railway tracks are the ones used to deliver people from all over Nazi-occupied Europe to their deaths. The tracks stopped metres from the camp’s notorious gas chambers.

More than 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz. Of the victims, close to one million were Jewish, with many being sent by train.

“When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed,” the memorial’s official Twitter account posted this week.

“Respect their memory. There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolises deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths.”

The tweet has been liked more than 11,500 times.

“This is a very necessary post, our picture taking habits are completely out of control,” one Twitter user named Fransesca said in response.

“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.”

media_cameraThe tracks leading to the entrance of the notorious Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a former Nazi extermination camp and now a museum.

Another person, Moran Blythe, tweeted: “I don’t understand why people use Auschwitz as a photo op or how they take cheerful selfies at a site that saw the murder of thousands of innocent people.”

“Thank you for calling this out. The lack of respect is so sad,” Stephanie Kowalski said.

Dave Collins added: “I’ve visited twice now and on both occasions people were taking numerous selfies and smiling?! Very strange thing to do at such a place.”

Photos, especially selfies, taken at the solemn Auschwitz museum have sparked controversy before.

An Alabama teenager made global headlines in 2014, and attracted death threats and other abuse, when she tweeted a smiling selfie from inside the concentration camp that went viral.

More recently, a British model came under fire for posting on Instagram a selfie at the Holocaust museum in Berlin during a holiday.

The lingerie model had originally posted the image at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe with the caption, “E.T. phone home”.

She later changed the caption to only have the hashtags “#sightseeing #museum #Berlin,” but social media users didn’t appreciate the lighthearted message at a memorial honouring the dead.

“Imagine having such little respect for the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust that you think this is appropriate,” one Instagram user wrote in response. “What an embarrassment of a human.”

Originally published as Auschwitz museum slams tourists

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