A statue of Adolf Hitler has reportedly been placed in a building located in what used to be the Warsaw Ghetto. The Simon Wiesenthal Center said the statue, which depicts Hitler kneeling in prayer and is titled "Him," is part of a new exhibition by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
The center issued a statement Thursday calling the display a "tasteless misuse of art."
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted Efraim Zuroff, the center\’s Israel director, as saying that the statue is "a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis\’ victims."
The statue was reportedly placed in the Center for Contemporary Art in Poland\’s capital last month and recently opened to the public. But unlike the museum\’s other displays, the Hitler statue was placed outside of 14 Prozna Street which, 70 years ago, was at the center of the largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi-controlled Europe during World War II.
The art center\’s website described the exhibition: "In a Warsaw ravaged by the cataclysmic 20th century, Maurizio Cattelan\’s works take on a particular dimension; they become an artistic commentary on the Catholic credo. What, in fact, does love thy enemy mean? What does forgive those who trespass against us mean? Evoking the traumas of history, they deal with memory and forgetfulness, good and evil."
Cattelan (52), who resides in New York, is no stranger to controversy. One of his earlier works, called "La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)" shows Pope John Paul II being hit by a meteorite.
In the summer of 1942, about 300,000 Jews were deported from Warsaw to the Nazi death camp Treblinka.