WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – More than 2 million people from all over the world visited the Auschwitz Museum in 2016.
The 2,053,000 visitors is a record number in the history of the Museum, which this year will mark the 70th anniversary of its creation, the museum said in a statement on its website.
The top ten countries from which visitors came were Poland, with 424,00; the United Kingdom, with 271,000; the United States, with 215,000; Italy, with 146,000; Spain, with 115,000; Israel, with 97,000; Germany, with 92,000; France, with 82,000; the Czech Republic, with 60,000; and Sweden, with 41,000.
The numbers include 61,000 organized tour groups, and individually conducted tours by museum guides for 310,736 people, according to the museum. In addition, some 150 movie crews produced documentaries at the museum and memorial last year.
“In today’s world, torn by conflicts, increased feeling of insecurity and strengthening of populist tones in public discourse, it is necessary to re-listen to the darkest warnings from the past,” said Piotr Cywinski, director of the museum, in a statement announcing the museum census for 2016.
Last week, a Polish organization fighting for fathers’ rights compared Auschwitz to the obligation to pay alimony. On its website the group posted a photo of the entrance gate of the camp, where the sign “Arbeit macht frei” or “Work makes you free,” was changed to “Work on alimony makes you free.”
Fathers are demanding the elimination of the obligation to pay maintenance for those fathers fighting for custody of their children.
The Museum protested on Facebook and asked for the removal of the doctored photo.
“The use and instrumentalization of the tragedy of Auschwitz is sad and inappropriate, and painful for many people, including those who survived the nightmare of Auschwitz,” said the post on Facebook.