By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
WARSAW, Poland – Italian artist, Maurizio Cattelan, revealed his latest work of art, a statue of Adolf Hitler praying on his knees, in the former Warsaw Ghetto. The statue is placed in an area where so many Jews were murdered under Hitler’s regime.
Cattelan’s new exhibition, “Amen,” displays most of the exhibits inside a museum, which is elsewhere in Warsaw. However, only the praying Hitler has been placed in the middle of the former Jewish ghetto.
The figure depicts a body of a schoolboy kneeling in prayer, and the head resembles Hitler’s. The statue is visible only through a hole in a wooden gate.
Before the statute was installed in Poland, the statue was shown in galleries. The statue was strategically placed at the end of a long hallway with its back to viewers. Viewers could only see Hitler’s face when they approached the artwork.
Cattelan’s work has drawn many visitors and sparked various conflicting reactions. Historians and artists attempt to decipher whether Cattelan’s controversial art piece is a legitimate art exhibit or an offensive provocation.
Some believe the kneeling statue is actually vulnerable. However, others believe the kneeling Hitler might evoke sympathy in the viewer.
A Jewish advocacy group stated the statue is “a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis’ Jewish victims.” Furthermore, Efraim Zuroff, the group’s Israel director, said, “As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler’s only `prayer’ was that they be wiped off the face of the earth.”
Fabio Cavallucci, director of the Center for Contemporary Art, said, “There is no intention from the side of the artist or the center to insult Jewish memory. It’s an artwork that tries to speak about the situation of hidden evil everywhere.”
Cattelan’s exhibit aroused great interest from all over. Hundreds arrive every day to look at the praying figure. Two women stated, “We want to believe that the statue is intended to show Hitler repenting or apologizing for his evil actions.”
Another viewer commented, “Why did the artists decide to put a praying child here? Is he praying for those who lived here? It must be a Christian, because Jews do not pray on their knees.” However, when this particular viewer was told that the “child” was in fact Hitler, she said angrily, “Hitler did not have the right to ask for forgiveness.”
The Hitler figure has raised such high emotion that regardless of there being no public access to the exhibit, the museum’s management has mounted 24-hour security around it.
For further information, please see:
NBC News – Statute of Hitler praying is displayed in former Warsaw ghetto to controversy– 29 December 2012
The Guardian — Controversy over Adolf Hitler statue in Warsaw ghetto – 28 December 2012
The Huffington Post — Maurizio Cattelan’s Statue Of Praying Hitler In Ex-Warsaw Ghetto Sparks Emotion – 28 December 2012
The Jerusalem Post – ‘Kneeling Hitler’ placed in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto – 26 December 2012