Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Tour Bus Company Scraps Auschwitz Star of David Logo After Uproar

PRAGUE — The owner of a Czech tour bus that advertised the Auschwitz extermination camp as an emotion-packed holiday destination will remove the vehicle’s controversial design showing oversized pictures of inmates from the Nazi extermination camp and a massive yellow Star of David.

The action comes following an outcry from Czech Holocaust survivors and Jewish leaders.

“I’m taking it off today and tomorrow, and it will be gone,” the owner of the tour company that operates the bus, Svatopluk Strava, told JTA on Thursday. “Most of it has been removed already.”

The design completely covered the vehicle. Along with the inmates’ photos and the Star of David, it featured a picture of the notorious Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free) inscription as well as the slogans “Let’s Go to Auschwitz,” “A Journey through Emotions” and “Our Guides Speak Czech.”

The design was applied in June when the vehicle, owned by Balkanbus, a small tour agency based in Blučina, some 135 miles southeast of Prague, was used as a prop in a “stylized documentary” depicting the life of a Czech neo-Nazi and his family. The film, titled “The World According to Little Dalibor,” includes a scene of the main characters visiting the Auschwitz memorial, according to the film’s director, Vít Klusák.

“While working on the scene, we came across the strange world of the adventure tourism industry in the former death camps,” Klusak told JTA. “Our bus was a critical reflection of this phenomenon. I think it is extremely absurd and tasteless that Auschwitz and Terezín are being advertised just like Disneyland or Niagara Falls.”

After the filming concluded, however, the filmmakers and the bus owner failed to make sure the satirical design was taken down. Klusák said the  producers would pay for the removal, but Strava was concerned the paint on the bus could be damaged in the process and decided to keep the design. He used the bus for several trips to Auschwitz, but soon heard from the Czech Jewish leaders.

“We wrote letters in mid-July to the film production company and to the bus operator telling them that we considered the design of the bus offensive and tasteless, and we asked the bus owner to remove it,” said Petr Papoušek, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Czech Republic. “But we didn’t hear back from either of them, and we were considering legal action.”

The uproar stunned Strava.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be such a scandal,” he said. “I’m no Holocaust denier, I regularly take Czech schoolchildren to Auschwitz, and I always get goose bumps thinking of what had happened there. So I just removed it, and if the paint is damaged, I’ll be considering suing the filmmakers for the costs.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.