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Photomontages from Holocaust memorial go viral

AP, BERLIN

Two men jump across concrete slabs at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin on Aug. 6, 2010.

Photo: AFP

A series of photomontages showing people striking poses, taking selfies and even juggling at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin before the background changes to show them posing amid piles of murdered victims of the Holocaust went viral on the Internet on Thursday.

The creator, Shahak Shapira, told reporters that he produced the “Yolocaust” Web site after seeing thousands of selfies and other photographs of young, smiling people posing on the memorial to Europe’s 6 million murdered Jews on social media.

The Web site went live on Wednesday and was clicked more than 500,000 times and shared at least 70,000 times on Facebook, Shapira said.

After a few hours, the site collapsed because so many people were trying to access it, he said.

Shapira, 28, a Berlin-based Israeli satirist and grandson of a Holocaust survivor, said the selfies did not disturb or upset him, but he thought it was “a shame that there are people who don’t care.”

“These people should be the ones to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive,” Shapira said.

He picked the word “Yolocaust” because it combines Holocaust and “YOLO” — social media shorthand for “You only live once.”

The 11 colorful images of young people showing their prettiest smiles or posing with selfie sticks turn into a disturbing sight when the background suddenly fades. Instead of the memorial’s tombstone-like slabs, the people are seen smiling against a black-and-white backdrop of starved and gassed bodies.

The Holocaust memorial, which is in downtown Berlin near the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, consists of thousands of concrete slabs installed as an uneven field, comparable to a gigantic graveyard.

It is one of the most-visited landmarks in the German capital.

Since its inauguration in 2004, hundreds of thousands have come to see it.

Critics have complained about some visitors jumping across the slabs and revelers from a nearby night club taking cigarette breaks inside the memorial, saying such behavior trivializes the memory of the millions murdered.

This story has been viewed 2767 times.

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