Estonian Holocaust exhibit ‘outrageous and disgusting example of poor taste’

RIA Novosti
A Holocaust exhibition in Estonia mocks the victims of the terrible tragedy and is a totally perverted way to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, says Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem.

RT:What do you think of the exhibition in Tartu, Estonia, opened to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps and which provoked the anger of Estonia’s Jewish community?

Efraim Zuroff: I think this is a totally perverted outrageous way of honoring the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. From what I’ve seen, I’ve seen some clips from the exhibition, from the film… I don’t know where these people got this sense of humor, but, if anything, what I saw is a mockery of the victims of the Holocaust, an insult to any person who understands that the Holocaust is a terrible tragedy.

RT:Among the exhibits there was a video of people playing tag in a gas chamber, how do people react to it?

EZ: If you have a totally twisted mind, then maybe that’s the way you can deal with it. But any normal person, who sees a group of naked adults playing tag in what is supposed to represent a gas chamber will be appalled, will be insulted, will be outraged. And we are talking about Estonia here. This is a country where the Holocaust took place. This is a country where Estonians participated in the murder of Jews. So I would be very skeptical about this whole exhibition. And this is a country, by the way, which is doing its best to whitewash the crimes of the Omakaitse (Home Guard) and security police. This is the last place on earth where humor should be used in dealing with the Holocaust.

RT:You made your statement concerning this exhibition and a lot of people seemed to be concerned. What do you think is going to happen next?

EZ: I have no idea. I will be in Estonia in two weeks and I will make it my business to go there and protest and I would demand that a Court close the exhibition, but I don’t think one statement is going to be enough. I think there has to be sincere outrage and all the local Jewish community in Tartu has already protested and correctly. But we will see what happens. On the one hand there is freedom of speech which is an important value. On the other hand….the freedom of speech is not a freedom to mock the victims of the worst tragedy in human history; it’s not a freedom to incite in an anti-Semitic way. And those people who created this exhibition and the people in Estonia who are staging the exhibition have to rethink their position, but I don’t know if they are capable of rethinking it.

RT:What about the Estonian government, is it ok with such an exhibition?

EZ: First of all I very much doubt whether the Estonian government Okayed the exhibition. I don’t think in Estonia - which is a democracy - governments have to approve exhibitions. That is what happens in dictatorships, like the old Soviet Union for example. One important thing in issuing the statement is that we brought this issue to the attention of the public and I think it’s important that people respond. On the other hand obviously by pointing all these things out it might actually boomerang because people might go to see it which is not our aim. But I hope this is now a question in the public arena in Estonia and I’m sure that many Estonians, not necessarily Jewish, who agree with us that this is really very unsuitable.

RT:So you think it might be closed eventually?

EZ: Let’s speak in a day or two and let’s see what the response will be. My guess is that there will be quite a few wire stories. We sent out statement to wire services, but in any event this is something that is so outrageous, so ridiculous that I’m sure it will attract a lot of attention. I hope that attention doesn’t help this exhibition, and then instead it leads to closing the exhibition. As far as I know…it was banned in Germany and they tried to show that in Germany and it was not shown and that’s the correct decision.

RT:Do you think those video exhibits are really filmed in Auschwitz?

EZ: I have no idea. But it’s not the issue whether it was filmed in Auschwitz or whether it was not filmed in Auschwitz. Even if it is filmed in Auschwitz it doesn’t make it authentic in the sense that this is a legitimate expression of an aspect of the Holocaust. It’s simply disgusting, I hate to think what the relatives and friends and acquaintances of people who were killed in gas chambers will react to see this outrageous and disgusting example of poor taste.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.