Auschwitz Museum issues warning after tourist’s ‘disrespectful’ photo

A photo taken of an Auschwitz tourist posing for a “disrespectful” photo has gone viral, with the museum subsequently issuing a warning that visitors should “respect” the site.

Maria Murphy, producer at GB News, shared a photograph she’d taken of a tourist posing with a smile on her face on the tracks into Auschwitz.

“Today I had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Regrettably it didn’t seem everyone there found it quite so poignant”, Ms Murphy wrote in disgust, adding that as visitors they were asked “repeatedly to be mindful and respectful.”

“You would think this sort of thing wouldn’t need to be specified as a no-go for that criteria”, she said. “The tour had already been going for 1-2 hours. There was no possible way of claiming ignorance.”

Beneath the tweet, many have been recalling similar experiences. “About 20 years ago, I had a couple ask me if I would take their photograph, smiling in front of the Dachau crematorium”, one user replied. “It horrifies me to think how much worse this behaviour must be in the Instagram era.”

“The first time I was there I had to step in and ask a group to stop taking smiling selfies in the gas chamber at Auschwitz”, another wrote. “Ran into a similar issue at Dachau as well.”

The tweet received over 57K likes and was viewed 30.9M times, prompting a response from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Their response – a direct reply to Ms Murphy’s original tweet – issued a firm reminder to visitors to “respect” the “memory” of the victims.

“Pictures can hold immense emotional & documentation value for visitors. Images can help us remember”, the tweet read. “Visitors should bear in mind that they enter the authentic site of the former camp where over 1 million people were murdered. Respect their memory.”

This is not the first time Auschwitz has dealt with inappropriate behaviour from visitors. In January 2022, a 29-year-old Dutch woman was detained by police for making a Nazi salute outside Auschwitz. Charged with promoting Nazism and fined, she had performed the action whilst posing for photographs taken by her husband.

Pleading guilty after being taken into custody, she described the act as an “ill-considered joke.”

Likewise, in 2019 an American tourist was caught trying to steal part of the rail tracks and charged with the attempted theft of an item of cultural importance.

In 2009, the haunting 16-ft wide sign bearing the Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Will Set You Free) was stolen from the front gate and later found cut into pieces. A former Swedish neo-Nazi was subsequently jailed for more than two years.

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