Polish tourism chief fired after removing Auschwitz from journalists’ itineraries

Marek Olszewski, who has held his post since March, also suggested a similar move for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

By JTA
August 31, 2017 11:29
1 minute read.
The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of Auschwitz

The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017. (photo credit: AGENCY GAZETA/KUBA OCIEPA/VIA REUTERS)

 
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WARSAW, Poland - The president of the national tourist organization in Poland was fired after noting in a newspaper interview that he had removed the Auschwitz memorial from the itinerary for foreign journalists’ visits.

Marek Olszewski, who has held his post since March, also suggested a similar move for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw in the Gazeta Wyborcza story published Wednesday .

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Polish Minister of Tourism Witold Bańka in a tweet the same day said he was firing Olszewski immediately over what he called the “scandalous remarks.” Banka was unaware that Olszewski had removed the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum until the story was published.

Olszewski told the newspaper: “As the head of the Polish Tourist Organization, who loves his country, I want to show its best side, through our monuments, culture, hospitality, wonderful music. Auschwitz is not a tourist product but a place of martyrology, reverie and reflection, and we are promoting Poland as an attractive tourist destination. … I do not need to expose places and events connected with the history of other nations.”

He added later: “It was Poles, not the Jewish elites, that were completely plowed and liquidated during the war. Let us remember that the whole Jewish culture in practice has survived.”

Olszewski, who prior to taking the national post managed holiday resorts and spas, twice ran for mayor of the town of Kamien Pomorski as a member of the right-wing populist Law and Justice party.

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