A new niche trend has arisen: pensive photos of teens balancing on the cattle car train tracks that lead into the Auschwitz memorial. Makes you nostalgic for the innocent days of concentration camp selfies and innocent games of Swastika beer pong, doesn’t it?
The Auschwitz Memorial Museum has posted a frustrating plea on social media for young visitors to stop using the rails on the train tracks at Auschwitz as a “balance beam.”
“When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed,” a representative for the museum wrote on the site’s official Twitter page on Wednesday morning. “Respect their memory. There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolizes deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths.”
When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed. Respect their memory. There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolizes deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths. pic.twitter.com/TxJk9FgxWl— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 20, 2019
Accompanying the tweet is a series of pictures of young people tripping coltishly down the thin steel rails just beyond the infamous gates of the death camp.
This is not the first, second, or third time that keepers of a Holocaust memorial have put out a frustrated plea for visitors to use more restraint, especially as it pertains to social media. The trend of concentration camp selfies caused a stir earlier in the decade, concurrent with the even more mystifying trend of gay men taking sexual photos at camps and memorials and posting them to dating profiles.
It’s true that the train tracks are iconic and an exciting opportunity for on-the-go exercise. But hey — if Aly Raisman can do two back flips off an actual balance beam and land on her feet, maybe the rest of us can find a narrow object to balance on that didn’t usher innocent people to their deaths.
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny