“When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound” Files: Auschwitz


From The Jerusalem Post:

Israeli tourists who arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Sunday expressed shock and outrage over what appeared to be the placement of showers near the entrance to the site. Asked about the outcry, a spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial told The Jerusalem Post that “no showers were placed at the parking lot of the museum.” “Because of the heat wave in Poland, sprinklers which cool the air were placed near the entrance to the museum. They are located near the area where – in the open sun and without any possibility of hiding in the shade – a queue of people who collect the entry cards to the memorial site is formed. “Among visitors there are many people who come from countries where such high temperatures as we have this summer in Poland do not occur. We have noticed cases of fainting among people. Therefore we must do everything possible to minimize the risks connected with the heat and high temperatures and take care of the safety of health of our visitors. The sprinklers are installed on the days of highest temperatures and removed with the temperature drops.”

“As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” Meir Bulka, 48, told the Post . According to Bulka, he was not the only one deeply disturbed by this unusual scene. “All the Israelis felt this was very distasteful,” he said. “Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick.’” Bulka decided to do something proactive about the situation rather than let it go. He went to the main office and asked the management for an explanation to the strange scene.

“The management decided that it was a good way to cool people off on a very hot day,” Bulka said.

There is something very wrong when those in charge of the Auschwitz historical site decide to erect nozzles misting water downwards at visitors outside the notorious death camp and nobody in involved in the decision detects the obvious problem. Whether the problem is with the administrators, the post-WWII generations, non-Jews, or something else, like Europe and the world, I am not sure. I do know that ethics alarms should have been ringing loudly. Did they malfunction? Or are they not installed?

Clues to what is wrong are suggested by the comments made by Ann Althouse’s readers to this story. I’m still trying to figure them out. Her audience is, I presume, ideologically-mixed, tilting to the left, and on the young side, since she is a law professor and many students read her posts. Is the utter insensitivity bordering on hostility to Jewish sensitivity on the little, insignificant matter of the Holocaust displayed here  attributable to ignorance (an excuse the Polish curators of the museum cannot claim), callousness, distance from the events memorialized, antipathy to Israel or anti-Semitism?

Here are 17 out of the 20 comments so far:

9/1/15, 6:29 AM
Blogger Hagar said…

This is silly.

9/1/15, 6:50 AM
Blogger Expat(ish) said…

Does she object to the pavement and the water fountains and the a/c visitors center?

Good to know that Americans aren’t the only special snowflakes.


PS -If you follow the link the picture that ‘reminds’ people of the showers couldn’t be any more absurd.

9/1/15, 6:51 AM
Blogger rhhardin said…

You’d think that victimhood would work the Islam connection today, not the Germans.

It suggests the lazy outrage or well-worn paths.

Maybe Islam is too touchy to offend.

9/1/15, 6:57 AM
Blogger Bay Area Guy said…

Stop with the symbolism, please. Yes, the showers 70 years ago in Auschwitz were evil, but that has no bearing on showers in general today, jeez.

9/1/15, 7:29 AM
Blogger CWJ said…

I’d like to second Expat(ish)’s postscript. These are not showers. They are misters.

You can react one of three ways. You can enjoy being cooled off. You can notice the superficial similarity and chuckle at what seems a tone deaf juxtaposition. Or you can be predisposed to outrage and stretch the facts to fit. Given that these are visitors to Auschwitz, I imagine an over-representation of the last group.

I presume the management either didn’t have the funds or didn’t have access to the more high-tech rotary fan misting devices I’ve seen here in the states. If they did this would never have come up.

9/1/15, 7:46 AM
Blogger Tank said…

I wish they would, in general, STFU about the Holocaust already. It was a long time ago. The Germans alive today didn’t do it. Teach it as history, but stop looking for a way to scream victim and act all butt hurt every day. God, I hate these f*****g Jews.

It’s a fricking mister designed to keep you cool.

Everyone searching for their victimhood.

Tank (A Jew)

9/1/15, 7:54 AM
Blogger Ignorance is Bliss said…

“… and I told them that there is no way to apologize to the victims of the Holocaust.”

There is no need to apologize to the victims of the Holocaust, they are not the ones taking offense.

9/1/15, 8:06 AM
Blogger Scott said…

They are not showers, they are mist generators. This is an example of an aggrieved minority struggling to take offense at any damn thing. The self-pity is appalling.

9/1/15, 8:10 AM
Blogger Fernandinande said…

Record-Breaking European Heat Wave Forces Ikea to Take Meatballs Off Menu in Poland

9/1/15, 8:27 AM
Blogger Peter said…

These appear to be the usual outdoor misters that are used to provide outdoor evaporative cooling, and in any case they’re outdoors; they seem visually quite distinct from the gas “showers” which, of course, had to be in an enclosed space.

Although if an actual holocaust survivor were to explain how these things somehow related to the mass murders I think I’d pay attention.

9/1/15, 8:30 AM
Blogger Eric the Fruit Bat said…

High school gym class must have been a living hell.

9/1/15, 8:54 AM
Blogger chickelit said…

Heidi Klum should apologize on behalf of all Germans and it go at that.

9/1/15, 8:56 AM
Blogger Mary E. Glynn said…

Is it the descendants of these people who are instituting all the “trigger warnings” on college campuses that we read about?

9/1/15, 9:05 AM
Blogger Mary E. Glynn said…

(I never understood how PTSD skips several generations, but then is transmitted like that. ie/slavery, holocaust, poor legal tx. of women, etc.)

9/1/15, 9:07 AM
Blogger tim maguire said…

I have two showers in my house. I had no idea that made me double-Nazi. They’re coming out today. I may smell a little tomorrow.

9/1/15, 9:13 AM
Blogger traditionalguy said…

The story talks about showers for the new arrivals on the trains. That was only true for the immediate death line of the weak and old or small children that were made to strip naked and then packed into locked ” shower rooms” that had no water from the shower heads but zyglon B gas fumes. Only the line for slow death slave laborers got real water.

It is that gassing that is the icon of Professional Jew Exterminationists. That is why the Hamas today in Gaza also love to use gas on their targets and Syria like Saddam’s Iraq pushed poison gas programs. Spraying water is ok.

9/1/15, 9:14 AM
Blogger Jason said…

Bunch of douches if you ask me.

Yes, there are repeat commenters, but still: that’s 17 out 20 comments ridiculing the idea that hanging  nozzles shooting down spray that visitors to Auschwitz are invited to stand under before filing past the showers that sprayed Zyklon B down on naked Jews marked for extermination is in nauseating taste,  supremely insensitive, and especially offensive to Jewish visitors.

No wonder so many Democrats see nothing wrong with Obama’s Iran deal.


Pointer: Althouse

Sources: Diaspora Althouse



23 thoughts on ““When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound” Files: Auschwitz

  1. I suppose the better option would be large enclosed rooms piping cold air into a room full of peop…

    Oh that might not look good either.

    They failed to consult an architect or their brains on this one.

    There’re a half dozen misting systems and another half dozen better locations to establish cooling ameninities.

    • Tex is right. Being from Arizona, I can tell you, until they crust up with formerly dissolved solids, misters work great. Looks as though they did these on the cheap, hence the awful, awful appearance. Extremely unfortunate. Good idea. Super bad execution. But frankly, I’m not sure even the best, least visible misters would have passed a reasonableness test in that location. Shade structures and water fountains would have been fine. Maybe some evaporative coolers. No nozzles please..

  2. The thought (cooling visitors on a hot day) was a good one. The implementation was either idiotic or intended as a poke at Jewish visitors. I HOPE it was the former. Then again, the commenters sound like a few of my lefty acquaintances, who joke about the Holocaust and 9/11 being different from a cow because both are still being milked.

    • I don’t understand the Left’s insensitivity on this topic at all, especially since the Left has such a strong Jewish component. Is it that the prominent success of Jews everywhere despite centuries of oppression and discrimination is perceived as weakening the arguments of race grievance activists, who claim that blacks share no responsibility for the community’s many social, legal, financial and behavioral problems? It constantly surprises me. Is it that the Jewish culture trains people to be really good at capitalism? Is it anti-religion bias? What, then?

      • Europe has traditionally not been very welcoming to Jews, as you are probably aware – Edward I kicking them out of England, Ferdinand and Isabella tossing them out of Spain under pain of the stake and fire, Russia confining them to the Pale, and so on. The reason they were traditionally moneylenders is that most other professions were closed to them, but Christians were forbidden to charge interest, so it was not a profitable business to be involved in if you were Christian. Some of this oppression started to lift in the 18th-19th centuries, but by then most Jews had come to distrust gentiles, resulting in the closed nature of their society which curried mutual distrust. To this day this distrust continues, and is magnified by the fact that Europe relies on Muslim immigrants for cheap labor, who hate the Jews.

        The left have traditionally been champions of the oppressed, but not of the oppressed becoming un-oppressed, because then they are no longer useful tools, symbols, and dupes of those who would use them to demand contributions and concessions. That’s the dirty little secret of the left, that they exist more to perpetuate their own existence than to help those they claim to help. They can’t stand the fact that the Jews actually built a functioning nation in Israel (and kicked out the west’s attempts to control that state, let’s not forget the King David Hotel, the blowing up of British police stations, etc.) that isn’t really dependent on anyone’s largesse, because those Jews don’t need the left anymore and have pursued policies that are antithetical to the left.

        However, the process of building the State of Israel resulted in a new oppressed nationality calling themselves the Palestinians. Now, there’s really no such thing as a Palestinian the same way there is an American or a Frenchman, since there never was a nation of Palestine. That name was actually a provincial name derived from “Philistine” and imposed by the just-barely victorious Romans in an attempt to wipe away all memory of the kingdoms of Israel and Judea who had succeeded in giving their armies a very hard time, and which the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottomans used because it was conveniently there. What there were were Arabs living among the Jews of Israel who did not want to live under Jewish rule, who also knew the surrounding Arab states of Syria, Transjordan and Egypt were likely to go after Israel once it declared itself a nation. When that attack came, they got out of the way, thinking that Israel would be defeated quickly and they could just walk back in. Well, the rest, as they say, is history, and hey presto, these Arabs became the Palestinians, the left’s new oppressed darlings, and Israel and the idea of Zionism, that there should be a national home for the Jewish people, became taboo in those circles.

        Oh, there are Jews on the left, but none who are pro-Israel, and many who are Jewish by birth only, haven’t seen the inside of a shul since their bar/bat mitzvahs and wouldn’t know a yad from a tekhelet or what they are for. To them Judaism is just spiritualized leftism, if they believe at all.

        • Bingo indeed .. and mazel tov Steve-O! Concise, correct, overarching, and a true condemnation of the Left and its knee-jerk underdogging, both of Palestinian anti-Israeli activists and, by extension as Jack mentioned, defenders of poor Mike Brown. It is part of the story of the Left turning turning twisting back on itself — by definition: committing suicide.

          If I may throw one more factor into the mix: Strange as it may seem in this age of ATMs and EFTs, legends of King Midas notwithstanding, throughout history power, influence, respect and the highest valuation of wealth has defined by landholding. For the most part of the last two thousand years, by law (religious and secular) Jews were prohibited from owning land. And most crafts were closed in guilds, families, apprenticeships. The negative focus today (thanks, Will) is on money”lenders” because it has always been a universally despised occupation, subject to usury, but the truth is not so venial — not having land, Jews became merchants, traders, bankers, businessmen, teachers in effect, the backbone of the middle class. But one did not have to be literally a “wandering” Jew to feel homeless.

          Thus a constant undercurrent of longing for the historic promise of Israel, for what Jews consider their genuine home-land. They got it; they will fight to the death to hold it.

          • Thank you and thank you. BTW, it’s one thing to support one side in a conflict at one time and the other at another because your interests in the outcome shift. That’s realpolitik, which may or may not also be ethical. It’s quite another to change sides just because the side you previously supported starts winning on its own. That’s jealousy, possibly a bit of control freakism, and unwillingness to accept that others have minds of their own at best, neurotic at worst.

          • Funny you mention the left and suicide. I do wholeheartedly believe there’s some sort of self-immolation impulse underpinning the whole thing.

            • ..and we all, them included, and our children, will pay a very, very heavy price for it. They have set us on a collision course with just about everything that shows the potential to destroy us, and it no doubt satiates that impulse. Let’s see how they like it when it all comes to fruition.

  3. Honestly, a combination of attending annual festivals where misters are common and an ignorance of history had me scratching my head on this one until halfway through your post. You’d hope that the people overseeing events at Auschwitz might have some kind of grasp on the history of the place, so I don’t know that I can excuse them, but I can at least understand the initial confusion of the average person. You’d figure after a little explanation, people would get it though… Those comments. Wow.

    As an aside… I don’t know Ann’s demographics, but I think that your typical progressive is self-aware enough not to poke at victim culture, seeing as with every other demographic, they’re major proponents of it. If I had to take an uninformed stab at it though, I’d say that this could be an unfortunate side effect to the conservative response to progressivism’s victim complex, .

  4. If you’ve got the money to lay pipe and set up showers, I don’t see why you couldn’t have just sprung for a nice covered walkway.

    • Yes… they’re losing a lot more money on water bills, particularly during a heat wave when water demand is higher to begin with, when they could set up temporary or seasonal shade fixtures. You could get a tarp and some sticks, and it would look less tacky. Sprinklers just make the air more humid anyway.

    • I had the same reaction, actually…. I think the assumption is partially based on the fact that the left is starting to veer into very anti-semetic territory. Personally I think it’s a bi-partisan bout of retardation.

      • I was mainly responding to Jack’s question about Judaism and the left, which was prompted by my comment that some of the comments sounded like stuff lefty people I know have said. Yup, the left has gone there many times, most notably Helen Thomas’ comment that the Jews need to leave Israel and go home to Germany and Poland and everywhere else. A supremely ugly comment by the most sinfully ugly woman ever to blight this world.

  5. Lefties hate Israel.

    “Israel is the cause of all that’s wrong in the Middle East, don’t you know? They treat Palestinians the same way the Nazis treated the Jews. Blah, blah, blah.”

    So don’t be shocked by this sort of behavior. And yes Beth, they are lefties. Why do you think all the Jewish member of Congress are turning themselves inside out trying to decide on the stupid Iran treaty.

  6. I call bullshit. I wholeheartedly believe they knew EXACTLY what they were doing, unless they have documented proof of severe retardation.
    I’ve noted a disturbing amount of atisemititism among the left wing over the years. I guess they have some sort of special criteria for victimhood.

    • I mean, pretend you’re at this place, and you’re tasked with dealing with this problem. No way. This was a sick joke, with plausible deniability.

      • Thanks. That right there was the argument I needed to defeat the part of me that believes emotional sensitivity isn’t worth it because people are just looking to get offended. You pointed out that these people are professionals who work there. They should be a lot closer to this issue than we would be (and honestly, it probably would have occurred to me as a engineer that misters would be a bit too close to a nerve for anyone even visiting this museum.) Plus, as others here point out, it’s impractical. This is the sort of thing they write comedy skits about; stuff that nobody’s supposed to do in real life.

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