Indonesian museum Hitler defended as selfie hot spot
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The teenagers smile as they take selfies with a heroically posed Hitler, apparently unaware that the giant backdrop to their happy moment is the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where more than a million people were exterminated by the Nazi dictator’s regime.
It’s a scene that plays out every day at a waxwork and visual effects museum in Yogyakarta. The infotainment-style museum, De Mata, is defending the display as “fun” for teenagers.
Human Rights Watch denounced the exhibit as “sickening,” and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which campaigns against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, demanded its immediate removal.
“Everything about it is wrong. It’s hard to find words for how contemptible it is,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center. “The background is disgusting. It mocks the victims who went in and never came out.”
The waxwork portrays Hitler as an imposing and dominant figure, a far cry from the drug-addled physical wreck who committed suicide on April 30, 1945, as Russian forces overwhelmed the German capital, Berlin.
Behind the waxwork is a giant image of Auschwitz and the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” — work sets you free — that appeared over the entrance to Auschwitz.
To one side of Hitler there’s Darth Vader, and directly opposite is Indonesia’s current president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Warli, the marketing officer for the museum who goes by one name, said he was aware Hitler was responsible for mass murder but defended the waxwork as “one of the favorite figures for our visitors to take selfies with.”
“No visitors complained about it. Most of our visitors are having fun because they know this is just an entertainment museum,” he said.
Warli hadn’t heard of the Simon Wiesenthal Center but said he’d discuss its demand to remove the display with De Mata’s owner, businessman Peter Kusuma, and management.
Cooper said it was inexcusable that a business would intentionally use Nazism and the Holocaust to make money and deplored the “disconnect” with history.
A visitor at De Mata Museum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, walks by the figure of Adolf Hitler displayed Wednesday against the backdrop of an image of Auschwitz-Birkenau.