Poland's chief rabbi has voiced anger over a statue of Adolf Hitler at a Holocaust site where tens of thousands of Jews were once murdered. The statue's public location, a courtyard of the former Warsaw Ghetto, is "lacking in sensitivity," he said.
"When it comes to showing the figure of Hitler, we have an extra special responsibility to be sensitive to those who suffered because of what Hitler created, to Holocaust survivors, to non-Jewish survivors, to those who didn't survive," Rabbi Michael Schudrich told AFP.
The wax statue, entitled HIM, is the brainchild of an Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. It features Hitler dressed in a grey suit, "boasting" a child's body kneeling in prayer. HIM is exhibited in the area in which tens of thousands of Jews were slaughtered and from which hundreds of thousands were deported to death camps by the Nazi regime.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem described placement of the statue in the former Warsaw Ghetto site as a "tasteless misuse of art, which insults the Nazis' victims."
"A 'praying' Hitler purposely placed in the centre of the area of the Warsaw Ghetto is a total distortion of the history of World War II and the Holocaust," the centre's director, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement published on its website.
"To place it right here, on Prozna Street, part of the old Warsaw ghetto, is lacking in that sensitivity and therefore it creates a problem for me," Poland's chief rabbi added.
Only the back of the controversial statue is visible, seen from a hole in a wooden gate, and it often goes unnoticed by passersby unaware of its existence.
Nearly 500,000 Jews were imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, a walled-off four-square-kilometer area of the city, shortly after the Nazis invaded Poland. Hundreds of thousands died of hunger and diseases or summary execution. The Nazis destroyed the area after the failed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.