Who doesn’t wish they were a celebrity? If we can’t be famous than the second-best thing is to be pictured with one.
Indonesia’s De MATA museum is home to nearly 200 life-size wax models of the most famous peoples in history. “We give you the best place to take your picture,” the museum proudly boasts on its website. Kissing Einstein, rocking out with the King of Rock and Roll sounds like something I’d like to put on my bucket list when visiting Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Just a few days ago you could of “Hail Hitler” to the dictator himself. Looking for a perfect backdrop for the gallantly posed fuhrer? How about right in front of Auschwitz infamous sign above the death camp’s front gate “Arbeit Mach Frei”. Since 2014 he was very popular to the selfie enthusiast; so much so that before bowing to international pressure to close the exhibit, the museums marketing director defended the exhibit display as “one of the favorite figures for our visitors to take selfies with”.
“No visitors complained about it,” he said. “Most of our visitors are having fun because they know this is just an entertainment museum.”
There certainly is Anti-Semitism in the world, but it’s mass genocidal manifestation does not exist today as Jews are protected by laws of religious tolerance. Near seven decades have passed since our Jewish home in Israel has been established. “Never Again” will always resonate truth as long as Israel’s flag bearing the Star of David continues to fly.
Unspoken discomfort occurs after admitting a lack of relatability to the merciless act of the Nazis, as in some way it indicates indifference. The world relies heavily on parody to placate these feelings by desensitizing Nazism. The unconscious mind finds it much easier to delegitimize a shameful feeling when the subject matter is less volatile. Nazi parody is just another example of a long list of nefarious periods of history satirized to pacify the unvictimized conscience; enabling society to turn the page on its savage past.
The number of survivors diminishes as time passes; shortly we will have no one to tell us what it really means to ‘never forget’. At the same time, Nazi symbolism continues to be desensitized by parody and comedic satire. Devoid of meaning, a replica of Hitler can be seen as just a famous “bad guy” that’s fun to take a selfie with.
There is a difference between taking a lesson from history when we keep the Holocaust and the deep significant implications of Nazism sacred, and when we do not. It takes courage admitting the inability to relate in the face of a mistaken stigma. It is imprudent to mistake disassociation with indifference when many us have not experienced egregious Anti-Semitism and genocide.
When Nazi symbolism and the Holocaust are subject to humor its lessons lack impact. Rather than using parody to quell the conscience we need to acknowledge our valid disassociation. By doing so, we can keep the Holocaust sacred to seek genuine understanding and incorporate its lessons into the future.
Editor of BJR
Open Dialogue does not seek to be right, rather to understand. There is never a right or wrong answer. Please feel free to leave comments & share your opinions and views.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Buffalo Jewish Review.