Two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial outside of Krakow, Poland. It was truly one of the most haunting experiences of my life and something I will never forget. It was truly moving and at times disturbing to see the lowest point of humanity and the physical representation of it. When my group and I were finished with the tour, none of us said a single word. We just simply stood outside the front gates, taking in everything we had just seen. Even thinking about it to this day brings me to tears. There are simply no words to describe what I witnessed there.
I think we can all agree that this kind of place that does not belong on a Christmas ornament, but that is exactly what Amazon was selling.
On Monday, December 2, Amazon received quite a bit of well-deserved backlash after releasing ornaments and bottle openers that had images of Auschwitz on them. The ornaments had the words "Krakow, Poland" printed on them, like any other ornament you can get at a tourist site.
But as I'm sure you all know, Auschwitz is nothing like a typical tourist site.
Auschwitz, in its most basic form, is a memorial and a somber place to pay respect to the six million Jewish people lost in the Holocaust. If you are looking for a simple way to remember the events of the Holocaust and those lost in it, Auschwitz is not the place to visit. Visit a memorial in any city or a museum, such as the one in Washington, D.C. Auschwitz holds nothing back in portraying and describing the terrors Jewish people endured throughout the Holocaust.
Auschwitz is a reminder of just how low humanity can sink and how much evil can be stored in one person's heart.
It is not a happy place. No one there, except for the tour guide, even speaks. There's a perpetual feeling of gloom and sadness that spreads throughout the entire camp. It is a moment that everyone can most likely only experience once just because of how strongly it hits a person.
After my group and I were standing outside Auschwitz, we did go to a shop, but not the kind of shop you would think. This shop didn't have T-shirts and magnets which advertised that someone went to Auschwitz. Instead, this shop had books and other materials to educate people on the horrors of the Holocaust so that it may never happen again. As George Santayana once said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Auschwitz has taken great care to ensure that people do not ever forget the horrors of the Holocaust, and it is time everyone else did the same.
To pictures of Auschwitz on ornaments and other merchandise is to cheapen the memory of the Holocaust. To place images of one of the darkest locations in the world on something which can be used so frivolously is of the highest disrespect. Amazon, you must do better.
The Holocaust must never be used to make a quick profit.