A Czech company has come under fire for offering inexpensive day-trips to the site of a former concentration camp in order to sell health equipment.
Aesculab Reisen has been trying to sell $350 “oxygen biogenerators” and health mattresses as tourists are bused from the Czech Republic to Auschwitz in Poland.
Daytrippers are shown a presentation of the health equipment after “a tasty breakfast” and “a fantastic lunch” on the way to the camp. The several hundred-mile round trip costs the equivalent of $4.
The story surfaced after a Czech man, who is not Jewish, took exception to an advertising leaflet distributed by the company in his home town of Hlucin.
“I found a stack of leaflets under the mailbox of our apartment block and I was so angry that I took them all away and destroyed them,” said Tomas Blazka, a salesman. “I don’t agree with the idea of commercializing the Holocaust.”
Petr Horava, who also saw the leaflet, was also angry. “There are lots of companies in this country which try to sell goods on excursions, but as far as I am concerned they are just using the Jewish tragedy to sell their goods,” he said.
Aesculab Reisen, which launched its first trip last week, said it had no plans to drop the excursions.
A sales manager for the company, Lucie Cervenkova, said the firm would continue the trips on a regular basis as long as there is demand.
“We don’t see any ethical problem,” she said. “People who would otherwise not be able to afford to go to Auschwitz can do so because the trip is cheap. All they have to do is listen to a presentation about certain products.”
She said the first trip had been a success. “Everyone found the visit to Auschwitz very interesting.” The chairman of Prague’s Jewish community, Tomas Jelinek, said he did not want to condemn the company without establishing the nature of its trips.
“I support the idea of Czech people going to visit Auschwitz, but I would attack any company strongly if it arranged a tour that was not tasteful or professionally handled with proper lectures and museum visits,” he said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.