It was the place that brought people to tears. It used to house the hair and belongings of those who were killed in gas chambers. It was a place where people toiled and died during the worst period in history. Now, it has been replaced by a disco – or in American terms, a nightclub.
Polish officials erected a business over an Auschwitz tannery. The new club has been placed one mile from the concentration camp, which has since been converted into a museum.
Though the news drew controversy overseas, there is less buzz in the States. To put things in perspective, let’s imagine that the U.S. government decided to demolish the Vietnam Memorial, the Washington monument, and Arlington Cemetery in order to build the world’s biggest Taco Bell.
According to an Associated Press article, locals claim they are not insensitive about the issue. The owner of the club was quoted as saying the site was the best place for a nightclub because it was a large building with ample parking. Forget what happened, there’s ample parking.
So the question remains, where is the line between commercial progress and historical sanctity drawn? If a tragedy occurs, despite the degree or significance, and enough time passes, is there a point where we can say, “Okay, let’s rebuild and move on?”
For me the answer is no. Neon lights and bow-tie wearing bartenders have no right being in a place where hundreds of people were worked to death. Young people are dancing upon the dead. There is no question about that.
The Holocaust was perhaps the most appalling and shameful aspect of world history. To open a venue like this – a place for young people to grind and drink and forget about their problems while they trample on the memory of those who were forced into labor and eventually into death, is atrocious.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I could enjoy myself in a place like that. Beneath the disco balls, the pounding music and the unaware faces, it is what it has always been – a cemetery. Could you imagine saying to your friend on a Friday night, “I’m bored. Let’s go to Auschwitz.”
It is not just about a nightclub or a concentration camp. It is about a lack of respect and morals that I thought was only rampant in this country. Obviously, I was wrong.
A law passed in the mid-1990s allows restaurants and other entertainment venues to open on the site. So, in a year or two, all that was left will be gone, replaced by a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Gap and the Polish equivalent of a video game arcade.
Would this ever happen here? Absolutely not. For one, we’ve never had a massacre large enough to compare with the Holocaust unless you count the Native Americans, but nobody else has so far.
We slaughtered them and took their land, but people seem to forget about it. Secondly, we’ve got too many political groups and people who like protesting just for the sake of protesting. Thank goodness for that. When I die, no one will be dancing on my grave.