Auschwitz “cooling showers” leave visitors steaming

As Poland continues to endure one of the most brutal summers on record, locals are doing whatever they can to beat the heat. In that spirit, the museum administrators at the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz have installed showers at the entrance which spray a fine mist of water to help tourists cool down.

Israeli visitor Meyer Bolka described the sight of the showers as "a punch to the gut."
Israeli visitor Meyer Bulka described the sight of the showers as “a punch to the gut.” (Haaretz)

Some visitors, however, have expressed outrage, immediately drawing parallels between the installation and the mock “shower” chambers which were used to lethally gas some of the Jews, Polish and Soviet political prisoners, Romani, and other “undesirables” killed there during the Holocaust between 1940 and 1945—in total, over a million.

“All the Israelis felt this was very distasteful,” Meyer Bulka, 48, told The Jerusalem Post, who vocalized his distaste to the staff. “Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick.'”

After several complaints to the office, the directors of the memorial and museum apologized for any negative connotations, but so far they have declined to remove the showers.

“We aren’t used to high temperatures in Poland in the summer,” a spokesperson said, explaining why the installation will remain until the heat breaks. They cited several incidents already where tourists have fainted. “Therefore, we needed to provide a response to the many visitors so they can cool off.”

The heat wave is expected to continue until Wednesday, which is likely to bring rain and temperatures back down to 22C (72F).

Other tourists were more sympathetic, noting that people were indeed making use of the showers. One Israeli Facebook commenter wryly warned others “not to fall for the same trick again.” “Sometimes,” another commenter remarked, “a shower is just a shower.”

Auschwitz tourism this year has hit record numbers, with over 250,000 people visiting in the first three months of 2015 alone—a 40% increase over the same period the previous year.

27 thoughts on “Auschwitz “cooling showers” leave visitors steaming

  • August 31, 2015 at 8:00 pm
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    Its funny how Israelis, think this is very distasteful, yet they do organise Miss Holocaust competition annualy.

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    • September 1, 2015 at 5:10 am
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      why funny? say what you mean.

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      • September 1, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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        I think they just did say what they mean, what don’t you get?

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      • September 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm
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        Ok, I will say it. They are the biggest hypocrites ever.

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  • August 31, 2015 at 8:24 pm
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    Paris and London also have heat waves in the summer. Nonetheless, countless visitors stand in line for hours in front of the major tourist attractions without the benefit of showers or air conditionning.. Are there showers in front of the Eiffel Tower, Versailles or Buckingham Palace?

    We know what kind of “showers” awaited prisoners when they got to Auschwitz.

    In the immortal words of Harry Truman “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”

    Once more a stupid tasteless move aimed at turning Auschwitz into a Holocaust theme park.

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    • August 31, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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      You should not worry. These are Polish showers in the German Nazi concentration camp.
      These are not German showers.

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    • August 31, 2015 at 9:55 pm
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      These so-called “showers” are really mist sprayers. In the U.S. you see them at many locations. Usually they’re outdoor events such as weddings and fairs to name a couple. Even the local grocery stores uses them to keep the plants they’re selling outside from dying. There’s a real purpose and usefulness of these mist sprayers, but people will always try to draw their own conclusions. Seems like more people are being allowed to feel hyper-offended by things. Soon we may just ban all 4-way intersections as they resemble a cross.

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    • August 31, 2015 at 11:41 pm
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      Its hot… They provided misting showers to keep people cool rather than lose the visitors.. Can people stop being so whiney???!! I would rather people visit Auschwitz and learn about the atrocities that occurred there, than choose not to come due to the heat. Anyone that disagrees should make sure they drive with windows up and no ac in their car on the way there as those are considered luxuries and the victims of Auschwitz had no access to any luxuries. You know who did..? The Nazis.

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    • September 1, 2015 at 12:25 am
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      Wow come on. These kinds of showers are used all over the place. This isn’t some tacky holocaust joke. Stop trying to make an issue out of something that isn’t an issue. Seriously, you complaining about this is embarrassing.

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    • September 1, 2015 at 8:05 am
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      We’re all quite aware of what they are and why’re they are there. The problem is you’re going to a place were tens of thousands of people were murdered. You’re there to learn about what happened. You shouldn’t be seeking comfort. It should be throughly uncomfortable – just as it was for the poor souls who were worked to death, shot, and gassed there. It’s a place of human misery. If you choose to go there (and honestly, I can’t imagine why, I don’t even like taking the subway near the WTC site) you should put yourself into the mindset of a person who has suffered through that hell. They did not get misters.

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      • September 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm
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        “You shouldn’t be seeking comfort. It should be throughly uncomfortable – just as it was for the poor souls who were worked to death, shot, and gassed there.”

        ??? Except it’s not the “real” thing. And what do you mean by “thoroughly (sic) uncomfortable”? If you take that “just as it was” approach then you should have them turn on Cyklon-B in a regular gas chamber and spend a few seconds (or more?) there with closed doors to see “how it feels”. Maybe they should have SS-officers with loaded guns running around with some German sheppards too to add a level of reality?

        If they didn’t install this (which presumably won’t be there when the heat waves go away) then, presumably some old lady could keel over of a heat stroke and then you’d get a headline of “Holocaust survivor dies in Auschwitz”.

        And it’s not “showers” just mist sprayers. Or if it is then it’s a lot closer to a real shower than what was in the gas chambers.

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    • September 2, 2015 at 12:06 am
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      Misters were installed because some people in ticket line fell out beacuse of heat.
      They are not meant to be attraction providing comfort.
      Some people will always complain merely to get attention.

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  • August 31, 2015 at 11:03 pm
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    I’m divided about this. On one hand, these showers are a pretty good relief to the unprecedented high temperatures in Poland now (I was there in June of 2014, when the mercury hit 33 C). On the other, I sympathize with some folks’ feelings.

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  • September 1, 2015 at 12:23 am
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    These were very popular in Arizona when I lived there, and many restaurants had them installed above outdoor seating. They work very well at cooling but you don’t get wet. The park’s first concern needs to be with people’s safety. The elderly especially are in danger from the heat. People are getting outraged over nothing – the Nazis did not spray a refreshing mist of water on Jews as they came in to keep them cool.

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    • September 1, 2015 at 1:25 am
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      Well said, Amanda.
      Worth remembering though, that Nazi Germany murdered not only Jews (Polish and otherwise), but many others at this place.

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      • September 2, 2015 at 1:18 am
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        Being from a family that lost most of my family and are no Jewish, and having visited Krakow virtually every year in the past 25, this year the heat is way up there. The Polish people are kind and considerate and are thinking only of visitors well being. Myself I was thankful, as I am now in my late 70s and partially disabled, so rather than pass-out I felt revived to enable me to carry on with the visit. Please put things into perspective, awful things happened during the war many people lost their loved ones, not only the Jews, respect what you are seeing and be humble.

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  • September 1, 2015 at 12:24 am
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    What? What? Really? There is political correctness gone mad, and then there is political correctness gone completely and utterly bonkers. It’s been 30 degrees celsius and over for most of the summer in southern Poland, and across the region (and in other parts of Europe) these excellent devices have been keeping people cool. Well, I suppose everyone has the right to feel offended, but that should be no defence in the face of common sense.

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  • September 1, 2015 at 5:36 am
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    This is ridiculous. Those are misters, not showers. They are very common at festivals, public places, etc when it gets unseasonably hot for a location. It’s shameful that some people just have to seek out things to get offended about to feed their constant desire for attention.

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  • September 1, 2015 at 10:21 am
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    Erick Scot There are no needs for showers outside of Buckingham palace , we need some more sunshine:-)) what is your problem ? This showers are all over the world, it all because it is in Poland. There are more important things in our world right now, to concentrate not some showers !!

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  • September 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm
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    Well,the all place remember the bad things, so, lets close Auschwitz, stupid people

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  • September 3, 2015 at 8:13 am
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    anyone else here because of ETC weekly weird news?

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  • September 7, 2015 at 12:08 am
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    Most of these visitors probably went there not even knowing about the misters, but they knew of the heat and went anyway. In this world there are just things ( out of respect for those involved) you don’t shine an unnecessary light. You do things in life because of the experience, but also at your own choosing and own risk. If this was advertised ( and I don’t know if it was) and people still came then they have nothing to complain about. Simple respect, shame on authorities.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 11:39 am
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    There really is no limit to the idiocy of the Poles.

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    • September 7, 2015 at 3:54 pm
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      Trevor, that’s a little harsh. I think that the original intent of the museum was to make visitors more comfortable during an unprecedented heatwave in Poland. They did out set out with the intent to hurt people. When people raised objections, I think that the directors of the museum were probably taken aback by the bad publicity the story engendered around the world. Most likely we will not see “showers” of any kind next summer before the entrance to Auschwitz.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 7:45 pm
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    ignore Trevor Dixon – that’s a well-known troll

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    • September 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm
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      As is Eddie Wilson

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