December 29, 2012

Adolf Hitler praying statue causes controversy in Warsaw

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The work, "HIM" by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, has drawn many visitors since it was installed last month. It is visible only from a distance, and the artist doesn't make explicit what Hitler is praying for, but the broader point, organisers say, is to make people reflect on the nature of evil.

One Jewish advocacy group, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, this week called the statue's placement "a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis' Jewish victims."

"As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler's only 'prayer' was that they be wiped off the face of the earth," the group's Israel director, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement.

However, many others are praising the artwork, saying it has a strong emotional impact. And organisers defend putting it on display in the former ghetto.

Fabio Cavallucci, director of the Centre for Contemporary Art, which oversaw the installation, said, "There is no intention from the side of the artist or the centre to insult Jewish memory."