A family-orientated tourist attraction in the city of Birmingham, northern England, has been slammed for a "bizarre" children's display featuring a "mini-Auschwitz" model concentration camp.
The model Nazi death camp – which comes complete with grim-looking barracks, barbed wire, cattle-carts, watchtowers and a machine-gun-bearing SS jeep – is part of an otherwise unrelated display at the Wonderful World of Trains and Planes center.
The center itself is promoting the exhibition as "A model world of excitement waiting to be explored, and promises to "take you on a journey of adventure past, present and future."
Matt Lawson, a lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, slammed the exhibit as "downright bizarre".
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, he said the decision to include a model death-camp is "a step too far and I really don’t understand the thought process. Did someone wake-up one morning and say, ‘you know what this place needs…’"
"I think the Holocaust is a vital part of kids’ education," he acknowledged. "But I also think that during a light-hearted, family day out to suddenly be confronted by a model of a concentration camp is bizarre.
"If it was a prisoner-of-war camp, maybe it would be OK, but this is a concentration camp.
"Thankfully, it’s a static display. Imagine if the train was moving. I do think it’s very unusual, I do think it’s out-of-place."
But the center's managing director Peter Smith defended the display, claiming he hadn't received a single complaint.
"The Holocaust was only possible because of trains," he insisted, and noted the positive reactions he had received from visitors, some of whom had been visibly moved by the exhibit.
But holocaust survivor Mala Tribich begged to differ, branding the decision to include the display as "frivolous".
“What are they trying to say? They used trains in wartime and trains played a very big part in the Holocaust, they could not have done what they did without trains," the 84-year-old survivor of Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps told the Mail.
"They were moving millions of people, but then you have to show the whole exhibition in a different context," she challenged. "As it is, it is useless, frivolous, even."
A member of Birmingham Central Synagogue concurred.
"I’m sure it has been done for all the right reasons, but not providing a full account of what happened and why, after drawing people’s attention to it, is an omission."