New York (Feb. 2)
— According to a newspaper report out of England, a new found vacation spot for tired and bored executives resembles something one could only envision as part of the television show “Fantasy Island.” British businessmen are spending $75 for a three-day excursion to a “vacation” camp which is modeled after Colditz, the infamous German POW camp.
The report, which was confirmed by an official at the British agency, Spectrum, which distributed the story, describes in detail what this “vacation” camp is like. Located in southern England, the camp is guarded by 50 armed “Nazi” soldiers, a team of trained attack dogs and is surrounded by 14-foot high barbed wire fences as well as searchlight-equipped watchtowers.
“Prisoners” are transported to the camp by truck, and are medically examined to determine if they can handle life in the camp. The vacationers who pass the exam are given prison fatigues or Allied military garb to wear. Housing consists of hut-like barracks with rags for mattresses and blankets. Meals consist of stale bread and rancid gruel.
The pleasure concept that the camp provides is that upon arrival to the camp, the “prisoners” are issued maps which list four possible escape routes, of which only one is feasible. “Prisoners” can try to escape and those who succeed in getting four miles out of the region of the camp, are considered to have made it to safety.
The task is made much more difficult since a helicopter is utilized to hunt down any “escapees” and catch them before they reach the four mile freedom mark. Those who make it are able to return to their homes. Those who are recaptured, however, are returned to the camp to face harsh interrogation and solitary confinement.
The “commandant” of the camp is quoted in the story as saying that those “vacationers” who are successful in their escape from this life-like POW camp, would most likely have been able to do the same if they were incarcerated there during World War II. This three-day vacation has proven so popular that organizers are considering implementing a three-month version.
VIEWED AS ‘SICK AND MORBID’
A variety of observers, when asked to comment on this vacation spot, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that while the situation is shocking it is hardly surprising. Famed author and Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel called the vacation spot “sick and morbid”. Wiesel, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Memorial Council on the Holocaust, pointed to this as another episode to cheapen the Holocaust.
“It is now touching every area and has even invaded the recreational area. Everything becomes ‘fun’,” he said. Wiesel also commented on the irony of the situation in that these “vacationers” are “trying to vicariously experience things they can’t understand or live.”
A prominent American psychiatrist and analyst of social behavior commented that this could be an attempt on the part of the British vacationers to try to recapture what he called their “lost glory.” Since times for the British are quite difficult today in light of their economic situation, this psychiatrist, who barring a personal examination, prefered to remain anonymous, felt that this could be their way of looking for an “escape” by reliving glorious moments of the past.
Other survivors and social commentators echoed these views. The response to this latest vacation resort was best summed up by one middle-age woman, herself a survivor of Dachau, who said: “If back then anyone had known of anything like this camp in England, no one could believe it. So how can I believe it?”