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Local tour bus advertising Auschwitz draws outcry from survivors

A bus in the Czech Republic advertising the Nazi death camp Auschwitz as fun holiday destination seen on an Auto Xaver bus. Photo: autoxaver.com

Bus owner says the paint job would be too expensive… ugh.

By BOHEMIST STAFF

PRAGUE – A prop bus bearing a satirical advertisement of the concentration camp Auschwitz has drawn the ire of Holocaust survivors after it was sold to a tour company in the Czech Republic for actual use, according to international media.

Adorned with the camp’s notorious sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work sets you free”), a large Star of David and images of real Jewish victims murdered by Nazi Germany, double-decker bus sells the concentration camp as a fun holiday destination, emblazoned with the text “Come to Auschwitz — A journey through emotions,” and “Our guides speak Czech!”

Insensitive? You bet. But that was the idea when the bus was originally made as a film prop for a satirical movie by Czech director Vit Klusak that analyzes the emerging Holocaust tourist industry in Eastern Europe. That is until it was sold to a local tour company who left the disturbing decorations intact.

The story, which appeared on the Daily Mail website yesterday,  garnered the collective voice of Holocaust survivors, who were not pleased to hear that the bus was currently in use.

Angry Erika Bezdickova – who lost her entire family at Auschwitz when she was just 13 – said: ‘I was absolutely appalled when I spotted the bus offering the tours to Auschwitz.’

She added: ‘Not as an event for the people who are interested in the history, but as entertainment.

‘I think that only a person with no moral decency could make a business out of the Auschwitz catastrophe.

‘Not only is it reprehensible, but those responsible should be punished too.’

The Prague Jewish Museum Director Leo Pavlat speaking to local media said that the images must be removed and had sent a letter to the owners.

The new bus owner Svatopluk Strava Auto Xaver, in Blucina has refused to act on the complaints, stating that he cannot afford the new paint job the removal would cost.

“I use the bus and I have to somehow earn money,” he state. “To remove the stickers would destroy the paint finish.”

Today, the story appeared in media all across Israel.

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Bohemist is an upstart news outlet serving the Czech Republic. Feel free to write us at editor@bohemist.cz.

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