By Marcy Oster
(JTA) — The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum waded into the current debate over tearing down statues of historical figures, noting that there’s a difference between preserving a historic site and statues meant to honor historic figures.
“We can see a lot of ‘Auschwitz’ mentions recently,” the museum tweeted on Sunday. “Remember that a preserved historic site does not equal a statue erected to honor a person. The two have entirely different roles, contexts, messages & meanings. Drawing a simple comparison here is incorrect.”
The tweet appeared to be in response to Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz, who on Saturday tweeted a photo of a quote found on the walls of Auschwitz: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“Leaving most monuments in place while stating the inhumanities associated with them is a better lesson for future generations than tearing them down indiscriminately in anger,” he tweeted.
Luntz later clarified that he was not referring to the statues of Confederate leaders: “I’m seeing lots of backlash so I’ll clarify: I said most monuments should stay, not all of them. Confederate statues shouldn’t be in public squares; statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln should. But the latter are being targeted too, which is absurd.”
Critics pointed out that Nazi camps are maintained to show their horror, while statues of Confederate leaders exist to glorify them. One commenter noted that the Holocaust is remembered in schools, books, museums and storytelling and that slavery and the Civil War should be remembered in the same way. Others noted that there are no statues of Adolf Hitler in Germany.
Main Photo: A view from outside the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland (Alexandre Marchi/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)