German-Israeli satirist Shahak Shapira, who set up a website shaming selfie-takers at Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, says he has halted the project for now after a dozen people apologised for their disrespect.
His “Yolocaust.de” website had combined selfies, often with the participants grinning or striking poses, taken at the memorial with graphic images from Nazi concentration camps, including piles of bodies.
“I’m watching you. Stop doing it,” Shapira told Reuters Television.
The memorial, located near the Brandenburg Gate, comprises 2,711 tombstone-like slabs of granite of varying heights. It is often used by visitors for picnics, yoga and other activities that Shapira said he found troubling.
About 2.5 million people had visited his website, he said.
All 12 people whose selfies he used had contacted him and apologised within a week of the images first being uploaded and most had now removed the inappropriate photos from their private websites.
Such photographs were also common at other sites including the Auschwitz and Treblinka death camps, he said.
“It’s about fighting ignorance, making people realise where they are, what this place stands for,” said Shapira, who lost half his family in the Nazi genocide.
Peter Eisenman, the U.S. architect who designed the memorial, said he loved the fact that people sunbathed or picknicked there.
“It is not the camp itself. It is not the sacred ground. It is a ground of remembrance and you can choose to remember in many ways, or not remember,” Eisenman said. “It’s become part of the fabric of the city.”
More worrying, he said, was the growing power of the German right-wing and that such a memorial might not be approved in the first place now.
Friday is an international memorial day for the victims of the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews, 2 million Sinti and Roma people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexuals.
The ceremonies occur on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
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