BERLIN – Jewish groups expressed outrage Tuesday at an oversized urn placed in front of the German parliament that those behind it claim contains Holocaust victims' remains and is meant to highlight the dangers of far-right extremism.
The International Auschwitz Committee condemned the action by the Center for Political Beauty, which unveiled the urn near the Reichstag building Monday, calling it a “pillar of resistance.”
“Auschwitz survivors are aghast at this installation, which hurts their feelings and the eternal peace of the dead of their murdered relatives,” the organization said.
The Center for Political Beauty, a Germany-based activist group known for provocative stunts, said the urn contained remains that it had unearthed from 23 locations near Nazi death and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Ukraine. Soil that the group said contained the remains could be seen in the transparent orange urn, which is about the size of an oil drum, set atop a metal pillar.
“We only looked for earth-covered human remains that were hidden by the Nazis in the surroundings of the former death camps.”
The group, whose members consider themselves political artists, said it wants to show that in Germany “the legacy of the Holocaust is rendered void by political apathy, the rejection of refugees and cowardice.”
The urn serves as a warning in times of growing far-right extremism of how conservative forces in Germany helped pave the way for Adolf Hitler's fascists to come to power in 1933, the group said.
Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, said moving the remains of the dead is forbidden according to Jewish law.
“The human remains of Holocaust victims are especially holy and require the greatest care and sensitivity,” Schudrich told the AP.