Auschwitz Probably Shouldn’t Have Installed Mist Showers for Tourists

To prevent panic among naked prisoners on their way to die, Nazi guards promised group showers. But after the steel doors closed, Zyklon B pellets would drop into the chambers, filling them with noxious fumes that spared no one.

A flower is attached at a barbed wire fence at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the 'March of the Living' at in Oswiecim, Poland on April 16, 2015. The annual march honours Holocaust victims at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI        (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A flower is attached at a barbed wire fence at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the 'March of the Living' at in Oswiecim, Poland on April 16, 2015. The annual march honours Holocaust victims at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A flower is attached at a barbed wire fence at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the 'March of the Living' at in Oswiecim, Poland on April 16, 2015. The annual march honours Holocaust victims at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

To prevent panic among naked prisoners on their way to die, Nazi guards promised group showers. But after the steel doors closed, Zyklon B pellets would drop into the chambers, filling them with noxious fumes that spared no one. Millions of Jews died this way during the Holocaust, many of them at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in Poland — an enduring symbol of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

The camp has since become a museum, drawing visitors from around the world. Some of them were more than a little upset to find that, somewhat shockingly, mist showers had been installed there to keep tourists cool in the hot Polish summer.

“They looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” tourist Meir Bulka, 48, told the Jerusalem Post.

To prevent panic among naked prisoners on their way to die, Nazi guards promised group showers. But after the steel doors closed, Zyklon B pellets would drop into the chambers, filling them with noxious fumes that spared no one. Millions of Jews died this way during the Holocaust, many of them at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in Poland — an enduring symbol of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

The camp has since become a museum, drawing visitors from around the world. Some of them were more than a little upset to find that, somewhat shockingly, mist showers had been installed there to keep tourists cool in the hot Polish summer.

“They looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” tourist Meir Bulka, 48, told the Jerusalem Post.

Bulka was wrong in that assumption, according to a post on the museum’s Facebook page: “…the mist sprinkles do not look like showers and the fake showers installed by Germans inside some of the gas chambers… Zyklon B was dropped inside the gas chambers in a completely different way — through holes in the ceiling or airtight drops in walls.”

Bulka wouldn’t have any of it. “I told them that there is no way to apologize to the victims of the Holocaust,” he said.

The showers might have been in bad taste, but they weren’t built to offend: just to provide a small comfort to people who traveled far to bear witness to a ghost camp that stands in memory of the great horror humans proved themselves willing and able to inflict.

Still, a good rule of thumb for the museum moving forward: Don’t install real showers at a site memorializing a genocide committed partly in fake showers.

Photo credit: Janek Skarzunski/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter: @bsoloway

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