Warsaw Hitler statue controversial

Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM
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WARSAW, Poland, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A Warsaw statue depicting a praying Hitler is valuable in that it shows how evil may be disguised as a "sweet, praying child," Poland's chief rabbi said.

The statue, titled "Him," by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was erected in the Polish capital where an estimated 300,000 Jews either died from disease or hunger in the ghetto or were sent to their deaths in concentration camps during World War II's Holocaust, London's The Guardian reported Friday.

The statue, showing Hitler on his knees praying, may be seen only from a hole in a wooden gate, and only the back of the small Hitler figure is visible, the Guardian reported.

The statue has attracted many visitors since its installation last month, but Jewish advocacy groups, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles decry its placement as "a senseless provocation that insults the memory of the Nazis' Jewish victims".

"As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler's only 'prayer' was that they be wiped off the face of the earth," said Efraim Zuroff, the group's Israel director.

"There is no intention from the side of the artist or the center to insult Jewish memory," said Fabio Cavallucci, director of the Center for Contemporary Art, which organized the installation of the artwork.

The exhibition's organizers said the statues' purpose is to make people reflect on the nature of evil.

Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, said he was consulted on the artwork's placement, but did not oppose it as it set forth a powerful moral question by provoking the audience.

"I felt there could be educational value to it," Schudrich said.

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