‘We en­cour­age our vis­i­tors to in­ter­act with the dis­plays’ –Madame Tus­sauds

Staff fail to stop vis­i­tors from mak­ing Heil Hitler salutes next to wax­work

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

AN IS­RAELI mother has de­scribed her shock at wit­ness­ing tourists mak­ing Heil Hitler salutes next to a wax­work of the Nazi leader at Madame Tus­sauds.

The woman vis­ited the at­trac­tion with her hus­band and baby son and said she was amazed by fel­low tourists pos­ing for pic­tures with the Führer fig­ure.

Mu­seum bosses apol­o­gised, but told the Is­raelis that the com­pany was “apo­lit­i­cal” and “ab­so­lutely de­fends the right of our vis­i­tors to make such choices for them­selves, as long as they be­have re­spon­si­bly”.

The mu­seum later back­tracked, ex­plain­ing that it would make ef­forts to stop “in­ap­pro­pri­ate ges­tures”.

But just days later news re­porters from Israel’s Chan­nel 2 wit­nessed vis­i­tors ap­proach the Hitler wax­work and give the same of­fen­sive salute — with­out be­ing chal­lenged by staff.

The Is­raeli mother, who is stay­ing in Lon­don for the sum­mer with her busi­ness­man hus­band and son, and has asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said the family had gone to the mu­seum hop­ing to see mod­els of fa­mous Is­raelis.

She ex­plained: “We saw the singers and foot­ballers and then we saw the politi­cians. I spot­ted the Hitler fig­ure and ev­ery­one was go­ing to have their pic­ture taken with him. We were very up­set. We just stood there amazed at the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing pic­tures, hug­ging him, do­ing Heil Hitler salutes.

“I wanted to tell them what he had done. My grand­fa­ther was in a con­cen­tra­tion camp and all his family were mur­dered there. It’s very per­sonal to us. I thought about my grand­fa­ther and how he would feel.”

The woman, from Ris­hon le Zion, said she did not feel Madame Tus­sauds had ini­tially recog­nised how up­set her family had been.

“They said peo­ple should take re­spon­si­bil­ity them­selves and be­have. I asked them to move the wax­work. I do un­der­stand he is part of his­tory, but maybe they should put him where peo­ple can’t take pic­tures and ex­plain more about the Holo­caust and how Europe suf­fered in the war.”

Af­ter the Au­gust 13 visit, she and her hus­band wrote to the mu­seum to com­plain.

In re­sponse to the re­quest for the wax­work to be re­moved, Madame Tus­sauds spokes­woman Liz Ed­wards replied: “Hitler’s régime rep­re­sents an im­por­tant, al­beit hor­rific, point in mod­ern Europe’s de­vel­op­ment – and is there­fore a very le­git­i­mate part of some of the at­trac­tions.”

Ms Ed­wards ad­mit­ted that vis­i­tors had pre­vi­ously made Heil Hitler salutes, but said: “We apol­o­gised to the Is­raeli family for the up­set of the ex­pe­ri­ence. Had we seen it hap­pen it would have been stopped im­me­di­ately.

“We are just as up­set by what hap­pened as our Is­raeli guests were. We will be more aware of guests be­ing around that fig­ure and staffing in that area. We just have to hope peo­ple use their brains.”

Nev­er­the­less, she also wrote: “We pro-ac­tively en­cour­age our vis­i­tors to in­ter­act with them [the wax­work fig­ures] should they so choose.”

Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust chair­man Lord Jan­ner said he was ap­palled by the in­ci­dent.

“It is up­set­ting and of­fen­sive to see young peo­ple pos­ing in a Nazi salute. Surely Madame Tus­sauds have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure vis­i­tors be­have ap­pro­pri­ately and re­spect­fully.”

Lon­don is one of only two Madame Tus­saud mu­se­ums to dis­play Hitler, out of 12 venues around the world. The other Nazi wax­work is on show in Ber­lin, where meet­ings were held with the Jewish com­mu­nity be­fore it went on dis­play.

The Ger­man venue’s fig­ure is dis­played in his bunker as the war comes to an end. A man was fined three years ago af­ter de­cap­i­tat­ing the fig­ure.

Two vis­i­tors to the wax­works mu­seum ‘in­ter­act’ with the wax­work

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