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Holocaust survivor groups say naked 'Game of Tag' was filmed in Nazi gas chamber in Poland

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Holocaust survivor groups say a naked "Game of Tag" was filmed inside a gas chamber in a former Nazi death camp in Poland. The groups on Wednesday demanded an explanation from Poland’s president as to why a group of artists were allowed to carry out the project. (Image source: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw video screenshot, redacted)

Holocaust survivor groups say a naked "Game of Tag" was filmed inside a gas chamber in a former Nazi death camp in Poland — and the groups on Wednesday demanded an explanation from Poland’s president as to why a group of artists were allowed to carry out the project, the Times of Israel reported.

The Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other groups sent a letter to President Andrzej Duda about the video, which was part of a 2015 display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, the Times said.

Image source: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw video screenshot, redacted

The video made headlines two years ago, but the location of the gas chamber apparently wasn't clear. The Holocaust survivor groups sent the letter to Duda after research found the location was Stutthof, near Gdańsk, the Times reported.

What else did the letter say?

  • The co-signing groups demanded to know if the artists got "permission from the Stutthof administrators to make this video, what rules exist for proper conduct at the site, how these are enforced” and if an investigation regarding the video's creation had taken place, the paper said, citing a statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

What's the background?

  • The video was part of an exhibit titled, “Poland – Israel – Germany. The experience of Auschwitz,”  about the concentration camp's impact on public discourse, the Times reported, adding that the Israeli Embassy in Poland endorsed and sponsored the exhibit.
  • Jewish groups and community leaders protested the exhibit, and the Krakow museum pulled it — but then reinstated it due to freedom of artistic expression, the paper said.
  • The embassy then called for the video's removal after criticism from Jewish advocacy groups, the Times reported.

What did a Nazi hunter say about it?

  • “It is the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in a long time,” Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter told the Jerusalem Post at the time. “They lied about it. It is just revolting and a total insult to the victims and anyone with any sense of morality or integrity.”

Image source: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw video screenshot

How did the museum respond?

  • A museum spokeswoman told the Post in 2015 that the video is “presented in a discrete enclosure bearing the warning: ‘A controversial work, only for adults.’”
  • Museum director Maria Anna Potocka sent a letter at time to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem saying “to read this film as an insult to the victims of the concentration camps we feel is to misinterpret it,” the Post said.

Is the video still around?

  • The video was not found Wednesday in a search of the website for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow.
  • But "Game of Tag" appeared Wednesday as part of an archive on the website for the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
  • The following is a summary of the video (Content warning: Nudity): "The film Berek (Game of Tag) was made in 1999. In it a group of people play a kid’s game. They are naked, they run around, they laugh a lot. But they are also very serious. They know where they are — in the gas chamber of a former Nazi extermination camp."
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