New students at one of Great Britain’s most elite universities were upset after they received a welcome packet that had a picture of the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp on the cover.
Students at Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College received the packets upon moving in. The packets featured information about a welcome service at the college’s chapel, which included a famous picture of the Auschwitz sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei”—work will set you free.
“The students who have seen that are understandably upset,” one student told Metro.
“I’ve no idea what the possible aim of it is,” another student told The Sun. “Is it some kind of sick joke about entering university and having to work hard?”
The college’s dean, Rev. Jeremy Caddick, explained to Metro that the welcome service’s sermon would be about Auschwitz, the Holocaust and the concept of self-sacrifice.
The picture “is there because some of the choir went on a trip to Poland,” Caddick explained. “It included a visit to Auschwitz. The sermon is a reflection of that. The point of putting the picture there is that it is an iconic image of evil.”
“We understand that without context this image may have upset people and we apologize for its use in a way that’s caused distress,” a school spokesman said in a statement. He added that the photo selection was explained during the service.