NEW YORK (VINnews) — The German authorities in charge of former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald have demanded that visitors to the site demonstrate respect for all those buried there and not play winter sports at the site, as has occurred recently when the campsite was snowed over. Some visitors were even spotted sledding on mass graves at the site.
Criticizing the “disrespectful” behavior, of visitors, the Buchenwald memorial foundation which oversees the camp asked all visitors to refrain from leisure pastimes at Buchenwald and at the adjacent former subcamp Mittelbau-Dora in eastern Germany.
“Sporting activities are a violation of visitor rules and disturb the peace of the dead,” it said in a statement, warning that its security staff would be stepping up patrols and trespassers would be reported to the police.
The camp has a huge cemetery on the south slope of Ettersberg hill, with a belltower at the top – the area now popular for winter excursions.
Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau, a historian at Buchenwald, told the BBC that sports activities were already banned at the site, yet “last weekend it was used heavily, many sledge tracks were found on the graves, and the car park was full”.
“Now because of the pandemic winter sports facilities are closed in Thuringia [region], so they are using the memorial,” he added.
The director of the foundation, Jens-Christian Wagner, told German news site Der Spiegel that “masses” of daytrippers had gathered at the site over the weekend and most seemed to have come for fun in the snow.
Wagner added that even though people wish to spend time outdoors during the nationwide lockdown imposed on Germany due to COVID-19, the memorial expects people to demonstrate the appropriate respect for the site. Wagner admitted that “as time passes, historical sensitivity is fading.”
More than 76,000 men, women and children died at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora during World War II. They were either murdered by the Nazis or perished through illness, cold or starvation.