(January 31, 2019 / JNS) Plans to build a sausage museum at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald has prompted outrage over Germany’s apparent “lack of historical awareness.”
A group called Friends of the Thuringer Bratwurst had released plans to relocate the Bratwurst Museum from its current location in Holzhausen to Muehlhausen, where a theater and a hotel are also in the works to be constructed.
Muehlhausen was the site of a couple subcamps of Buchenwald where prisoners at these particular locations would manufacture aircraft parts.
Rikola-Gunnar Luettgenau of the Buchenwald memorial foundation said this plan shows a “lack of sensitivity” and a “lack of historical awareness.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told JNS: “This is a shameful assault on memory. Apparently, some in Germany remember too well how to forget their responsibilities to history.”
“There can be nothing uglier than taking hallowed ground that is dripping with Jewish blood and turning it into a museum of sausage-making,” said Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth.
“This is in the poorest taste imaginable. In Washington, there is in old adage that politics is like making sausage—it’s ugly,” Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), told JNS. “However, there can be nothing uglier than taking hallowed ground that is dripping with Jewish blood and turning it into a museum of sausage-making.”
“If they need to make a museum there, it should be of the atrocities that had occurred on that very soil,” she continued. “Without a memory of that, there are no lessons for civilization, and all of those Jewish souls would have perished in vain.”
National Council of Young Israel president Farley Weiss joined the opposition and said to JNS that “we oppose the building of this sausage museum. The only museums that should be built at concentration camps should deal with what happened at those camps. This proposed museum is inappropriate, and the project should be relocated.”
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs and a daughter of Holocaust survivors, told JNS: “This move of a sausage museum to Buchenwald is an unthinkable, cruel action by people who lack sensitivity and respect for the pain and suffering and collective memory of the Jewish people. As studies show a disturbing lack of understanding about the Holocaust, it is crucial that sites such as Buchenwald be preserved, and used to educate and inspire future generations to say no to evil.”
Not the first controversy over such hallowed grounds
Amid the outcry, the local mayor is having discussions with the region’s Jewish community in addition to the memorial foundation.
German public broadcaster MDR reported that Friends of the Thuringer Bratwurst was unaware of the location’s past, but said it was open to commemorate the history appropriately.
Out of the almost quarter of a million prisoners, approximately 56,000 people were killed at Buchenwald between 1937 and 1945.
This is not the first time an attempt has been made to turn a Nazi concentration camp into something not reflective of its past.
For example, Carmelite nuns took over a building at Auschwitz in Poland in 1984 that stored the Zyklon B gas the Nazis used to kill Jews.
Local authorities, with the backing of Polish Cardinal Franciszek Marcharski, granted the nuns a 99-year lease to transform it into a convent, where the nuns “sought to pray for the souls of the murdered.” It was not until pushback, led by prominent Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, N.Y., that Pope John Paul II ordered the nuns to leave, shutting down the convent.
CBS News’s Edward R. Murrow was the first reporter at Buchenwald after it was liberated by U.S. troops: “There surged around me an evil-smelling stink, men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death already had marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked out over the mass of men to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were ploughing. … But the manner of death seemed unimportant. Murder had been done at Buchenwald. … If I have offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I’m not in the least sorry.”