- Title: Israeli satirist ends project shaming people taking Holocaust memorial selfies
- Date: 27th January 2017
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (JANUARY 27, 2017) (REUTERS) ISRAELI SATIRIST BEHIND 'YOLOCAUST,' SHAHAK SHAPIRA, TAKING OFF SCARF IN BAR (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI SATIRIST BEHIND 'YOLOCAUST,' SHAHAK SHAPIRA, SAYING: "I mean, taking 'selfies' or taking pictures there is completely legit. But I wish people would put some more thought into what kind of 'selfies' they are doing there. What kind of activities, what kind of hashtags are they going to use. Is it appropriate to do yoga on those stones? Is it appropriate to jump on them? You know, is it cool to do acrobatics on them? I don't know! My goal wasn't to dictate some kind of rules to how they should behave there. I was aiming for giving people this spark and making them think about it and thinking about what is appropriate there and what isn't. You know!"
- Embargoed: 10th February 2017 16:20
- Keywords: Holocaust memorial Shahak Shapira Peter Eisenman selfies Berlin Germany
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY AND NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S.
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY AND NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S.
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Art,Arts/Culture/Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA00360UVZO9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: German-Israeli satirist Shahak Shapira, who set up a website shaming selfie-takers at Berlin's Holocaust Memorial, says he has halted the project for now after a dozen people apologised for any offence caused.
His "Yolocaust.de" website had combined selfies, often with the participants grinning or striking poses, taken at the memorial with graphic images from concentration camps, including piles of bodies.
Yolocaust, which is a play on words from the acronym: You Only Live Once, currently a popular hashtag trend of people showing themselves in 'YOLO' poses, was set up to try and make people stop and think just where they were taking these selfies.
"I'm watching you. Stop doing it," Shapira said, adding that he would be prepared to open his photoshop again if he found more inappropriate selfies around Holocaust memorials and the camps themselves.
The memorial, located near the Brandenburg Gate, comprises 2,711 tombstone-like slabs of granite of varying heights. It is often used by visitors for picnics, yoga and other activities that Shapira said he found troubling.
About 2.5 million people had visited his website, he said.
All 12 people whose selfies he used had contacted him and apologised within a week of the images first being uploaded and most had now removed the photos from their private social media accounts or websites.
Most of the 12 also engaged in correspondence with Shapira, saying they understood the message. One email struck a particular chord with Shapira. From a man who had posted an image of he and a friend jumping off one of the memorial stones with the caption: jumping on dead Jews.
The email apologised for the 'sickening' choice of words and apologised for any hurt caused.
"It's about fighting ignorance, making people realise where they are, what this place stands for," said Shapira, who lost half his family in the Nazi genocide.
Peter Eisenman, the U.S. architect who designed the memorial, said he loved the fact that people sunbathed or picnicked there.
"It is not the camp itself. It is not the sacred ground. It is a ground of remembrance and you can choose to remember in many ways, or not remember," Eisenman said. "It's become part of the fabric of the city."
Eisenman said he had designed the memorial specifically for the Germans.
"I wanted something that when little Fritz went home from school and he said: 'Guess what! We had a field trip to the Holocaust Memorial today.' That his grandparents, or her grandparents who had been involved with the Nazis would be reminded that there was the Holocaust. And that was the thing that it was not for anybody but German people for Germans," he told Reuters from New York.
More worrying, he said, was the growing power of the German right-wing and that such a memorial might not be approved in the first place now.
"The real issue, as I said a couple of months ago, that the right in Germany would not, probably, allow my design to have been made today. And I think that's a key issue. Not whether people are taking 'selfies' and putting them on iconic and cynical images over dead bodies. I think that issue is whether the German right is going to proscribe these kind of things in the future and its proscription that I am against," Eisenman said.
Friday is an international memorial day for the victims of the Nazi genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews, 2 million Sinti and Roma people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people and 9,000 homosexuals.
The ceremonies occur on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None