Poland’s chief rabbi on Friday voiced outrage over a statue of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler kneeling at a Holocaust site in Warsaw, part of an installation by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
“When it comes to showing the figure of Hitler, we have an extra special responsibility to be sensitive to those who suffered because of what Hitler created, to Holocaust survivors, to non-Jewish survivors, to those who didn’t survive,” Rabbi Michael Schudrich told AFP.
“To place it right here, on Prozna Street, part of the old Warsaw ghetto, is lacking in that sensitivity and therefore it creates a problem for me,” Schudrich said.
The wax statue depicts Adolf Hitler with a child’s body dressed in a grey suit, kneeling in prayer. It was installed in a courtyard of the former Warsaw Ghetto in mid-November.
Only the back of the statue is visible, and the figure goes unnoticed by most passers-by.
Cattelan was invited to create the installation titled “Him” by Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Art.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem also recently slammed locating the statue “in the centre of what was the Warsaw Ghetto as a tasteless misuse of art, which insults the Nazis’ victims.”
“A ‘praying’ Hitler purposely placed in the centre of the area of the Warsaw Ghetto is a total distortion of the history of World War II and the Holocaust,” Efraim Zuroff, the centre’s director, said in a statement published on its website.
A year after its invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany imprisoned nearly half a million Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto inside a walled-off four-square-kilometre (1.5-square-mile) area of the city, mostly around its traditional Jewish quarter.
About 100,000 were to die inside from starvation, disease or summary execution, while others were deported to death camps. The Nazis razed the site in 1943 after the failed Ghetto Uprising.