(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish leaders and victims of the Auschwitz death camp have recently condemned a Czech tourist company's bus that displays the site as an attractive holiday destination.
The coach's exterior displays photographs of victims of the concentration camp as well as a giant Star of David over the train tracks that led to the Nazi concentration camp that took 1.1 million lives.
The tour bus also bears the slogan - "Come to Auschwitz- A journey through emotions," the Daily Mail
reported this week.
The bus was originally used as a film prop by Czech director Vit Klusak. Klusak, who reportedly used the bus in a satirical film on the tourist industry built around the former Nazi death camp in Poland. The bus was reportedly later sold to the Czech tourist company.
Erika Bezdickova, whose entire family was killed at the death camp when she was 13, condemned the use of the bus in the tourist company's fleet.
"I was absolutely appalled when I spotted the bus offering the tours to Auschwitz," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
She further mentioned: "only a person with no moral decency could make a business out of the Auschwitz catastrophe."
Prague Jewish Museum Director Leo Pavlat speaking to local media said that the images must be removed, adding that he had sent a letter to the owners.
The new bus owner Svatopluk Strava Auto Xaver, in Blucina, Czech Republic, has refused to heed to the calls, stating that he cannot afford the new paint job the removal would cost.
"I use the bus and I have to somehow earn money," he stated. "To remove the stickers would destroy the paint finish."
Earlier this month the city of Kaunas in Lithuania defended the operator of a former concentration camp where recreational events are held near the graves of thousands of Jews killed by Nazis and local collaborators.
The defense came this week from Deputy Mayor Povilas Maciulis, following an article published last month by JTA about summer camps, barbecue parties, treasure hunts and camping activities taking place at the Seventh Fort. In 2009 the city privatized the site, which is run by a nongovernmental organization, the Military Heritage Center, headed by 37-year-old amateur historian Vladimir Orlov.
JTA contributed to this report.