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article imageAuschwitz generates controversy with 'cooling showers'

By Michael Thomas     Aug 31, 2015 in World
Poland continues to suffer from a brutal heat wave. To help keep visitors cool, Auschwitz — a former concentration camp now serving as a museum and memorial — installed cooling showers near the entrance.
Naturally, some visitors are quite angry, the Krakow post reports. It's not hard to see the cooling showers as an unfortunate reference to one method that killed some of the more than one-million-plus victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Gas "showers" killed Jews, Romani, Soviet and Polish political prisoners and many more.
"As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers," tourist Meir Bulka told the Jerusalem Post. Others called it a "Holocaust gimmick."
Following the outcry online and in the form of complaints to the museum, the director apologized for any negative associations, but has so far not removed the showers because they have indeed been helpful for tourists. Several had apparently fainted due to the heat, and many have taken advantage of the showers' cooling mist.
Some commenters have been supportive of the showers, with one saying "a shower is just a shower."
Controversy or not, it's been a banner year for tourism at Auschwitz. More than 250,000 people visited the museum from January to March 2015, a 40 percent increase over the same period last year.
Poland's weeks-long heatwave is no small annoyance — temperatures are a staggering 10-14 C (15-25 F) above normal, though on Wednesday some rain is likely coming, which will bring the thermometer down to a much more tolerable 22 C (72 F).
More about Auschwitz, Concentration camp, Poland
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