Java museum removes Hitler model 

A visual effects “museum” in Indonesia that encouraged visitors to take selfies with a wax model of Hitler against a backdrop of the Auschwitz death camp has removed the exhibit. 

It shows the infamous sign above the camp’s front gate: “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free).

The De Mata Trick Eye Museum’s marketing officer said the statue was removed after protests from Jewish and human rights groups.

Pictures on social media show numerous people posing with the fibreglass statue, including a group of boys in orange uniforms performing a Nazi salute.

Human Rights Watch denounced the exhibit as “sickening” and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which was established to hunt down Nazis and now campaigns against anti-Semitism, said it should be removed.

“Everything about it is wrong. It’s hard to find words for how contemptible it is,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the centre. “The background is disgusting. It mocks the victims who went in and never came out.”

The museum in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta opened the Hitler exhibit in 2014 and it originally said no visitor had complained about the model.

De Mata’s website describes itself as a 3D art museum where visitors will not get bored and can take selfies with more than 100 statues of political leaders, superheroes and celebrities.

It said the exhibit was “fun” and one of the most popular models in the museum. Other waxworks include Darth Vader, Steve Jobs and a leather-clad Scarlett Johannson.

“I can confirmed that the statue has been removed,” said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch.

“We welcomed the decision because, regardless the intention, depicting Hitler as if he were a respected figure is in bad taste.”

Harsono suggested the model pointed to anti-Jewish feeling in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Most of Indonesia’s Jews arrived from the Netherlands, West Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe and today they form a small community of about 100 to 500 of mostly Sephardi descent.

A Nazi-themed cafe in the West Java city of Bandung closed in 2013 following criticism of its Nazi decor, including a giant Hitler portrait and numerous swastikas.

It reopened in 2014, with a broader Second World War theme but some Nazi decoration was retained.

It was closed down in January, with the owner blaming lack of custom.

In 2014, a music video made by Indonesian pop stars in support of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto carried Nazi overtones.

 

The De Mata Trick Eye Museum’s attempt at Hitler. Picture credit: YouTube